Saturday, July 5, 2008

Kerala cuisine: Kudampuli for good taste, better health

Is kokum (cocum) and kudampuli the same?

Many people seem to think so. But they are different though belonging to the same family. The former is used in Marathi and Konkani cuisine. The scientific name for kokum is Gracinia indica. Some of the other names are amsul, katambi, panarpuli and mangosteen. Photo on the left shows two kokum fruits

Kudampuli (kudam = pot + puli = sourness) is an essential ingredient in many Kerala fish and seafood recipes, and is also used in some vegetable preparations. It is Garcinia cambogia but commonly referred to as Fish Tamarind, Malabar Tamarind or Kerala Tamarind. Other names include Gambooge, Brindal Berry, and Gorikapuli.


The kudampuli tree can grow to a height of 50 feet but starts yielding when they are much smaller. The green fruits turn golden yellow as they ripen. They look almost like a tiny pumpkin. The fully ripe ones fall down, usually at night, and are picked up in the morning. Or one can shake the branches to get them. I have not seen anyone climbing a kudampuli tree to pluck the fruits.

The collected fruits are washed and opened. The seeds inside are coated with creamy flesh. They are edible but too sour for normal palate. It looks almost like the inside of mangostein fruit. I am not sure whether butter, like in the case of kokum, can be made with it.

The thick rind is sun dried and also smoked. When the process is completed, the end product looks almost black. (If the essence is extracted, the remainder would appear brown or less intense in color.) It is then rubbed with a little salt and oil and stored in jars. The shelf life is long. A number of sites on the Internet provide recipes using kudampuli.

The kudampuli pieces in a dish are not eaten. Their function is to blend the flavors and to act as a preservative. A curry known as ‘meen pattichathu’ made with kodampuli would last for a few days without refrigeration. In fact the full bloom of taste is reached only by the third day. Kudampuli imparts its medicinal values to the food while cooking and in storage.

What are the medicinal properties of kudampuli? An effective ingredient in kudampuli is hydroxycitric acid (HCA). In Ayurveda kudampuli is used for treating stomach ulcers, arthritis, some uterine problems, to promote digestion and as carminative and antiseptic.

There are claims that kudampuli may reduce cholesterol levels. It is also widely accepted as a weight reducing agent; several anti-obesity formulations containing dried and ground kudampuli rind are available in the market. New research indicates that kudampuli may be useful in diabetes management as well.

(See: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050523092407.htm)

Kudampuli is yet another of nature’s gifts to man.

(Photos from Olavipe by me. Copyright reserved. Click on images for enlarged view.)

Ends.

Also see:

Kerala food: Peechappam, a forgotten item?

Photos: Kerala fruits

18 comments:

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Anonymous said...

You have inadvertantly posted the photo of mangostien as Kudam puli in the first photo

Abraham Tharakan said...

anonymous, thank you for the comment. I have mentioned that the first photo is of kokum. As far as I know, kokum is not kudampuli. It is my understanding that kokum (Garcinia indica) is also known as mangostein. Please correct me if I am wrong.

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

Kudampuli - tamarind in a pot?

I was very happy to read that your blog was featured in the Cochin edition of The New Indian Express on July 4 - coincidence indeed. Congratulations.

Happy Kitten said...

Wow.. so much info on our common "kudampuli"..and I thought kokum was same whenever I tried sharing the recipe of the "red fish curry" wth my Goan friends.

As for the photos, I will be soon seeing the same scene in Hubby's place...

and as you said, no one climbs the tree!

Sunita said...

On the other hand, it is supposed to be bad for asthmatics, according to the 'vaidyar' at Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala.

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Abraham Tharakan said...

That's it, Raji - tamarind in a pot!

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thanks for the comment, Happy Kitten. I too used to be under the impression that kokum and kudampuli were the same.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Sunita, thanks for the information.

sherin said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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zian said...

Sir,
I really liked your article about kokum and kudampuli. It is a really helpful information. Every one was keep asking me about the difference Now I got a great website to forward to them. Keep up the good work!
Once again thanks a lot for sharing.
Zian

Abraham Tharakan said...

Sherin, thank you.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Zian, I am glad that you found the post useful. Thank you for comenting.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Tharakan, There are several Garcinia species. Mangosteen is not Garcinia Indica. Garcinia Indica looks similar but smaller with glossy reddish rind, the rind is sour and use by the Konkan region to acidify their dishes and to make Solkadi.(Rind of Mangosteen is very bitter due to Tanins). The picture is of Mangosteen Fruit. There is plenty of confusion about Kokum and Kudampuli.

Priya Deshingkar said...

When I was doing fieldwork in the Western Ghats it was disturbing to see that contractors were cutting down Garcinia trees instead of shaking them to harvest - not sure if that was indica or Campogia

deej said...

From where can we get this kudampuli plant ?