Tag Archives: kokum

Kokum, Konkan’s wonder fruit

Come summer and I crave a glass of refreshing tangy kokum sherbet. And of course, no Malwani or Goan meal is complete without a glass of sol kadi for me, made from kokum, coconut milk, ginger, et al.

Kokum cooler

Kokum is an amazing purplish red sweet and salty fruit, also called garcinia. It is a popular souring agent in the Konkan region and I cannot do without it in my kitchen.  I love the fact that it is multi-faceted and lends itself to so many dishes. But yes, it should be fresh. The flavours are completely different when it is not fresh and appears dehydrated.

Whole dried kokum can be used in curries. I cannot imagine my fish or prawns curry without the tangy kokum or even my dry bhindi or ladies fingers, for that matter.

But I must confess, I learnt about kokum fairly late in life, when I got married to a Goan. In Kolkata, where I grew up, we had never heard of kokum, let alone use it. For us, tamarind was always the souring agent.

Halwa-Fish-Curry

In all curries where coconut milk is added, I tend to use kokum. I once sampled the most unusual kokum coconut chutney at Park Hyatt Goa. The taste still lingers in my mouth. It was exceedingly well-made.

It is called Bhinda in the Konkan region. I am somehow fascinated by the colour of kokum apart from its flavour. People in Kerala use it as well. In Maharashtra, moong dal amti with kokum and goda masala is legendary. It is a must try.

Kokum is used for its unique flavour and peculiar sourness that it gives to the dishes and hence used in Konkan Cuisine. A chef once told me an interesting way that kokum is used. Yes, Kokum butter, prepared from seeds is used in confectionery preparations. Some chefs have created unique European dishes using Kokum too.

Karavalli-Food-festival-image

Apart from its utility in the kitchen, kokum, owing to its anti oxidant and anti fungal properties, teats sores, prevents infection, improves digestion, treats constipation, and application of direct Kokum on skin removes all kinds of rashes and allergies.

Although it is available freely in Mumbai too, I still prefer getting my stock of kokum from Goa. It is fresh and flavoursome and I can be sure of the quality. Madgaon market is my favourite place to pick the best kokum.

So try using kokum in your culinary experiments, if you have not already. It is bound to tease your taste buds.

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Goenchi kodi : My fav Goan fish curry

 

I am a true blue Goan. Can never tire of a Goan fish curry even if I have it number of times in the week. So all it needed was a little persuasion from Chef Sunita Lopez at Zuri White Sands Goa (whee I am currently) and I found myself willingly giving the nod to try their version. The Goa rice and fish curry served was delectable. One of the best I have ever sampled.

The masala paste which formed the base of the curry was unique and that’s what sets it apart. Garlic, turmeric, red chillies, coriander seeds, were definitely the spices used, no different from what I use when I make it, but yet it tasted different. I also add green chillies and ground cumin. All these spices have to be ground to a paste along with coconut. And yes,  Kashmiri chillies are a must for their colour.

Kokum is typically the souring agent I use. That is crucial to the taste. Kokum is more commonly used, yet in summer, some people use raw mango or bimli as well. That lends a special flavour to it.

In South Goa one tends to use less of coconut and the chillies are more fiery. This is what gives it the local flavour. North Goans like us, cannot do without their Kashmiri chillies or the long chillies which are less pungent.

The coconuts that grow so abundantly in Goa form a generous and integral part of our food. In the fish curry, one should use it ground to a fine paste. In case you don’t have fresh coconut, substitute it with coconut milk. But that changes the texture of the curry too.

Onions and tomato,  cut lengthwise should be sauteed, before the masala (mentioned above) is added.

The fish can be any sea fish but must be firm and robust.

 My Recipe :


1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds
8 dried red Kashmiri chillies
½ tsp turmeric
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3cm root ginger, peeled and grated
3 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
Fresh coconut
2 fresh green chillies, slit lengthwise
400g fish – any sea fish like Rawas, Pomfret

  • To make the masala, grind all dry spices, along with coconut in a food processor.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the onion. Fry until soft and lightly golden, add tomatoes, then stir in the masala mix. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, until the aroma of spices pervades your nostrils.
  • Add water and bring to boil. Add the chillies and kokum. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the curry has thickened slightly.
  • Add fish and cook for a few mins.

 This is best eaten the next day as the masala then coats the fish well

Can never have enough of it : Goan cuisine

I am married to a Goan, enjoy Goan food at home, can cook loads of Goan dishes myself, yet, can’t have enough of it. Simply love the cuisine. So, I happily trooped off to sample the Goan food festival at Lake View Café at Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel last week for dinner. A pity the festival ended last Sunday.

 Have never seen such an interesting use of ingredients like Coconut Milk, Tamarind, Spices, Kokam, as in the festival.  I personally relish sea food, chicken in Goan cuisine, but,  was pleasantly surprised to find that the Mergolho (pumpkin and papaya curry) and the breadfruit curry could be so delicious. Am hooked onto it now.

The soul kadi was a tad too milky. Too much of coconut juice and less kokum. The ambotik with plain steamed rice was a treat, as was the sannas with sorpotel. The chicken cafreal was well made and the succulent pieces of chicken simply melt in  the mouth. The clam chops with mango chilli sauce weere to die for, something which I have never tasted before. Truly unique. Prawn balchao was yummy though I tend to have it as a pickle rather than a starter.

Bebinca (layered caked made with flour and coconut milk), the ultimate Goan favourite dessert, without which any celebration is incomplete, was there. But I am not a great fan of it. Dodol (toffee like sweet made up of rice flour) and Doce (fudge made up of gram flour)  too were on offer but I loved the cashew doce. It was unusual and well made.

A special Feni Muddle bar had been set up at the hotel which was serving exotic Feni cocktails, but I decided to give it a miss. Had a busy working day the next morning.

Chef Danish was there, ever-smiling and ready to serve us with warmth. The highlight of the festival was Jacinta aunty, from Goa who was flown in especially to give authenticity to the masalas, used in Goan food. She did a great job. Her son Michael was assisting her. Apparently aunty goes regularly to the Goa Marriott and Spa too, to grind masalas. She has the midas touch.