Tag Archives: tangy

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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A Little Bit of Gujarat On My Plate

The sweet-sour taste of Gujarati food is what draws me to it and always has. I love the way, the hint of sweetness, enhances the other latent flavours. With my fetish for this cuisine, I found myself heading to Sofitel Mumbai BKC for their Padharo Gujarat food festival complete with dance, folk music, puppet shows et al

Tuskers, the all vegetarian restaurant at the Hotel which boasts of a separate kitchen to ensure the purity of vegetarian food, played host to this food festival. Quite naturally, all the Gujarati food was strictly vegetarian and yet, lip-smacking.

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The well-arranged thali, was a treat for the eyes. Farsan in a Gujarati meal is always the highlight and the vatana ghugra and khaman dhokla served to us were no different. Delectable flavours of the starters paired with tangy chutneys was the perfect beginning to our meal. Prepared by 2 Home Chefs Neha Varma and Urmila Gohil, along with the Maharaj Jankidas Vaishnav, at Tuskers, the meal was bound to be a unique experience. And it was.

The aam panna was refreshing and energized us completely.

Neha Varma  one of the Home Chefs told me, “Working at Sofitel Mumbai BKC, was as comfortable as my own home kitchen and that helped me serve up the right balance in the cuisine. Gujarati cuisine has a sweet touch and the combination of flavours is designed to please every palate.”​  There could be no greater compliment for the Hotel, I thought.

Gujarati Specialists

The Phangavela Mug-Mut No Salad was fresh and wholesome. Something that I enjoy wholeheartedly. For the mains we were served, an array of Gujarati delicacies. Ringna-Batata Sambharyo, Surti Kadhi, Undhyo, sev tamatar, dal, theplas, bajra rotla and of course khichdi. The delicate flavours of each dish were distinct and no where did the spices over power the taste buds. They gently teased the palate, leaving us craving for more. With so much of variety, of course no monotony would have set in and the brilliant Home chefs ensured, none did. Each dish was different and had its own identity. The food was home style, with less or negligible oil and the ingredients absolutely fresh.

The surti kadi and undhyo were two dishes which were outstanding, as far as I was concerned.

The desserts, after the sumptuous main course, sadly did not match up to our expectations.

The service was warm and hospitable, in keeping with the Gujarati household culture and Sofitel Mumbai BKC’s tradition.  A thoroughly enjoyable evening, well spent over a heart-warming meal.

On till February 28, make your way quickly and savour this authentic meal.

Rating: 3.5/5