6. As a skin nourisher: Kokum seed contains twenty to twenty-five percent oil. This oil is edible. It remains solid at room temperature as it has a relatively high melting point and is known as kokum butter. Kokum butter is very good for treating cracked heels and is believed to promote skin elasticity, prevent dryness of skin and restore damaged skin. It is refined for use in the cosmetic industry and it is blended with other ingredients to make lotions, creams, soaps and other toiletries. It can be easily spread, is non-greasy and easily absorbed by the skin. It is less prone to oxidation and contains vitamin E (which is an anti-oxidant) and is sometimes also used as a substitute for cocoa butter.
7. As a confectionary ingredient: The high melting point of kokum butter is ideal for use in the manufacture of chocolates in the warmer climates.
Kokum is an important ingredient in the kitchens of southern and western India. It is used as a souring agent. It is sometimes used as a substitute for tamarind. Kokum fruits are dried and the rind sold. It is dark purple in colour, sticky and with curled edges. The darker the colour of the rind the better is the quality of kokum. It can be stored in an airtight jar for about a year. It goes well with coconut based curries and vegetables like okra, potatoes and brinjals. It is used with fish curry and lentils and is great in chutneys and pickles.
Here are some recipes using kokum that you can try:
1. Sol Kadhi or Kokum Juice
Ingredients: 10-15 pieces of kokum, 2 green chillies – finely chopped, 1.5 cup coconut milk, salt, a sprig of coriander. For tempering: 1 tbsp. oil, 1 tsp. cumin seeds, 1 tsp. mustard seeds, 10 curry leaves, 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped, 2 whole red chillies.
Method: Soak the kokum rinds and green chillies in a cup of water for an hour. Crush the rinds (with your hands for best results) once well-soaked. Add another cup of water to the extract which should be reddish pink in colour. Add the coconut milk to the extract. Add salt to taste and keep aside. Heat oil in a pan, temper with cumin and mustard. Then add chopped garlic, curry leaves and red chillies. Fry for a minute and pour over the kokum extract prepared earlier. Garnish with coriander and serve chilled. This spicy sour juice is served with lunch or dinner and is a digestion aid and coolant besides being a palate cleanser.
2. Kokum Rasam
Ingredients: 7 or 8 pieces of kokum, a large piece of jaggery, 0.5 tsp. mustard seeds, 0.5 tsp. cumin seeds, 3 whole red dry chillies, 10 curry leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp. ghee, a pinch of asafoetida, salt to taste.
Method: Soak kokum in a cup water for half an hour. Add two cups of water to the soaked kokum and boil for about ten minutes. Add salt and jaggery and boil some more. Adjust the seasoning and add water if it is too sour. Heat ghee in a pan and when hot, temper with cumin, mustard, asafoetida, garlic, chillies and curry leaves. Pour the ghee on the rasam and cover immediately. This goes well with steamed rice.
3. Lentils with Kokum (Goan style)
Ingredients: 2 cups toor dal, 2 kokum pieces, turmeric powder, salt, 1 cup grated coconut, 1 onion, 1tbsp. cumin powder, 4 garlic cloves. For tempering, 0.5 tsp. mustard seeds and cumin seeds, curry leaves, garlic, 2 green chillies, a pinch of asafoetida, 2 tbsp. ghee or vegetable oil.
Method: Cook the toor dal in a pressure cooker with salt and turmeric for four whistles. Blend together coconut, onion, garlic and cumin seeds to form a paste. Add the paste and kokum pieces to the cooked dal. Add some warm water to adjust the thickness and keep on heat for some more time. Temper with ghee, cumin, mustard, curry leaves, green chillies, garlic and asafoetida. Pour this over the dal. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice or roti.
4. Kokum Sherbet
Ingredients: Kokum pieces – 1 cup approx., 1.5 cups sugar, 1 tsp. cumin seeds, black salt to taste, few mint leaves, pinch of citric acid
Method: Soak kokum in enough water to just cover them and keep aside for an hour. Add sugar to a cup of water and heat to make a syrup. Take the kokum and grind in a mixer with a little water to make a paste. Add the paste to the cooled sugar syrup. Strain through a strainer and discard the pulp left behind. Add cumin powder, black salt, citric acid and mix. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can add mint leaves to the sherbet before storing. To serve the sherbet, add two tbsp. sherbet mixture to a glass and form a juice with chilled water. Decorate with mint leaves and serve.
A few things to remember if you are eating food containing kokum. Avoid taking milk and milk products for an hour after eating kokum in any form. If suffering from a cough, then, too, kokum is to be avoided.