Dried Split Fruit [Wild Mangosteen (English); Amsool, Aamsul, Kokum, Kokam, Katambi, Panarpuli, Kudam Puli, Ratamba (India); Bindin, Biran, Bhirand, Bhinda, Bhrinda, Brinda (Konkani); Murugala hannu (Kannada); Goraka (Sri Lanka); Garcinia indica]

Kokum is a purple fruit used as a souring agent, usually in dried form, though a soft salt preserved form is common in India. It is common along the western coast of India where the tree is native, and takes the place tamarind fills elsewhere. It is used in other regions as well, particularly Sri Lanka and Malaysia where it is used in fish curries and is said to slow spoilage.

In general, whole pieces of the dried fruit rind are added to curries and similar dishes. It is also used, often in syrup form, to flavor summer beverages. The photo specimens, obtained from an Indian market in Los Angeles, were up to 1-1/8 inches in diameter.   Photo © cg1.

Oil extracted from the seeds remains solid at room temperature and is called Kokum Butter. It is used for confectionery, cosmetics, medicinals and as a moisturizer for dry and cracked skin. Various parts of the fruit and plant are used medicinally.

Buying:   Dried Kokum can be found in specialty markets serving and Indian community. It may not look like the photo because it may also be split lengthwise with the seeds scraped out.

Cooking:   Kokum is often soaked in water for about 1/2 hour, with seeds removed. Other ingredients are then added and cooking is started. The kokum pieces are usually removed before serving (sometimes they are removed right after soaking).

More on Mangosteens.

Ripe Fruit [Gambooge, Brindleberry, Malabar Tamarind, Asam fruit; Kujee Thekera (Assam); Vadakkan puli (northern tamarind), Kudam puli (pot tamarind), Citrin Fruit; Kodumpulli, Fish Tamarind (Kerala); Punampuli, Kudampuli (Kodava); Goraka (Sri Lanka); Garcinia gummi-gutta formerly Garcinia cambogia]

Native to Indonesia but now grown in other regions, this fruit, when mature, is orange or yellow with sutures, resembling a miniature pumpkin, though shape may vary. It is used as a souring agent in curries, particularly in Kerala, the far southwest coast of India. Like Kokum it is sold in both hard dried form and soft salt preserved form, and is more citrusy than Kokum. It is also used, especially by the Kodava (Coorg) people, to make a strong dark vinegar called Kaachambuli. Recipes calling for Gummi-Gutta may ask for "a few petals". The dried fruit splits along the sutures into these "petals".

Gummi-gutta is also now grown in south and central Africa. In the West it was recently strongly hyped as a weight loss aid, but formal studies have shown it no more effective than a placebo, and there is some risk of liver toxicity.   Photo by Lalsinbox distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Buying:   Haven't found any of this yet, but I'll be looking.

Cooking:   This product is used pretty much the same as Kokum, described above.

Subst:   Kokum, which is easier to find in North America, can be substituted with some difference in flavor. Kokum is more plum like, Gummy-Gutta more citrusy.

More on Mangosteens.

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