Posted on | April 3, 2008 | 45 Comments |
Not many people have seen me in my youth, they like me old and wrinkled. Can you believe I was ever this good looking!!
When I grow up, they make me up to look like this! Now do you know who I am?
Yes, I am Kudampuli, as some of you correctly guessed!
Kudampuli (scientific name: Garcinia cambogia) also known as Gambooge, Malabar Tamarind, Fish Tamarind etc is an essential ingredient in all the seafood loving kitchens in Central Kerala, the coastal South Indian state. As the name suggests (Puli = sour in Malayalam), the dried fruit is used as a souring agent in Kerala’s famous fish curries and other seafood preparations.
Kudampuli is known for its medicinal values in Ayurveda. It helps to promote digestion, and a decoction (kashayam) made out of it is used against Arthritis and some uterine deceases. It is also known to cure ulcers.
The green fruit shown in the first picture is a young version, it will turn yellow when ripe. Once fully ripe, fruits are collected, cut in half, deseeded and are sun-dried for a day. The sun-dried fruit halves are smoked till black, and are rubbed with a mixture of salt and oil before transferring to earthenware pots and tightly sealed. These will stay fresh for years. Before use, wash the pieces under running water quickly to remove any dust accumulated from the drying and smoking process, then soak these for 10 minutes in water. Kudampuli pieces are added along with the water in which it was soaked in to curries and it gives a delicious sour taste that is so unique.
Kudampuli is sometimes referred to as Kokum in some of the cookbooks from Kerala, so for the longest time I was under the assumption that Kokum and Kudampuli are the same. But Kokum (Garcinia indica) used in Marathi and Konkani cuisines is a different fruit, these two are not interchangeable in recipes.
Here are some of my recipes using Kudampuli.
Prawn and Mango Curry
Kudampuli can also be used in some vegetarian curries using vegetables like plantain, colocasia, taro etc. I will soon post a vegetarian recipe using Kudampuli.
Availability in the US: Kudampuli is available in the Indian grocery stores in Seattle, so I am guessing it will be available in other places too at least in the US. Sorry, I am not sure about other countries.