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  • Kudampuli (Gambooge)

    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!!

    Kudampuli Fruits

    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.

    Kerala Fish Curry
    Meen Peera (Fish with Grated Coconut)

    Bitter Gourd and Dried Shrimp Stir Fry

    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.

    Category: Ingredient Guide

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    45 Responses to “Kudampuli (Gambooge)”

    1. Nags
      April 3rd, 2008 @ 10:00 pm

      oh lovely ode to this shrivelled yet expensive fruit. nice one Sig :)

    2. Swati
      April 3rd, 2008 @ 10:49 pm

      Nice one Sig… :) you rock…

    3. A-kay
      April 3rd, 2008 @ 10:55 pm

      Never heard of this before. Is it available in the desi stores here?

      It is available in Seattle desi stores, so I am guessing it must be available at least in major cities

    4. sra
      April 3rd, 2008 @ 10:57 pm

      Ok, I only began to guess but could only reach “it grows in Kerala”. :grin:

    5. arundati
      April 3rd, 2008 @ 11:21 pm

      the green ones look very pretty indeed!! are they used in the green state too for cooking?? and hey i too thought kokum and kudampuli are the same….thanks for the info….

      Some folks use the green fruits in place of mango in some curries, a fact I just learned from my mom after your question :) So thanks for asking the question, I learned something new…

      • Thomaskuty Palaparampil
        August 23rd, 2011 @ 1:22 am

        I am from central kerala.we never use the green one for curries.Only riped /with dark yellow colour can use in the place of mango…for chutnies & curries.Take the fully riped Kodampuli,open,remove its seeds,cut the outer parts in to pieces,boil some water with little salt,remove the water bowl from stove and put this kudampuli in to the water keep it for 1 hour ,drain the water ,now this kudampuli peices are ready to add to any chutney type dishes.If you use the green one it will be Bitter-Sour mixed taste and its ha s TAR will affect your teeth ,

    6. Kaykat
      April 3rd, 2008 @ 11:39 pm

      Smarty pants! I never would’ve guessed. Unfair keralite advantage. *grumble* *grumble*!


    7. Padmaja
      April 4th, 2008 @ 12:11 am

      Sig!! I have many friends who are keralites here and I have seen them using this in all their sea food dishes. It gives a unique flavour and taste to the dish right!! Lovely dishes!! :drool:

    8. sia
      April 4th, 2008 @ 12:12 am

      i have never seen it. we use kokum in cooking. can you eat its seeds? this is really new to me.

      As far as I know (that means as far as my mom knows ;) ) no, the seeds are not eatable…

      • sunny
        July 31st, 2009 @ 10:15 am

        The pulp over the seed is similar to mangosteen and has a sweet sour taste. I loved to eat it when I was a kid visting grand parents in kerala. But too much can give a stomachache

    9. Anu
      April 4th, 2008 @ 1:52 am

      Hi Sig…i never knew abt this :grin: :…plain tamarind is what i know…this time when i visit India plan to get some of the few ingredients which are much talked abt here !!!! :smile:

    10. indosungod
      April 4th, 2008 @ 4:19 am

      Never would have guessed that one :)

    11. sunita
      April 4th, 2008 @ 4:36 am

      We have something similar, or maybe this is the same…I haven’t seen the young fruit…only in it’s wrinkled form and found it very hard to explain to the shopkeepers. But judging by the way it looks, and the method of using it along with the taste, I’m pretty sure that it’s the same. I’ve been looking for it for ages…didn’t know it’s other name till now.We too make fish with it…but a very light and sour dish.Thanks dearie! Which reminds me, I need to ask Dinesh to get some from home, he’s going for a week!

      Wow, I won’t be surprized if it is the same, with so much similarities in our cuisines. On a google search I found the mention of ‘thekera’ as a Kokum cousin being used in Assamese cuisine, probably this is what you are referring to? I couldn’t find any info on whether it is the same as Kudampuli… Please post a picture if Dinesh can find some from India…

    12. richa
      April 4th, 2008 @ 4:55 am

      aha! now it is all coming back to me :grin:

    13. shyam
      April 4th, 2008 @ 5:17 am

      Wow, I didnt even know about this fruit – neither in its green avatar nor as the dried verson. Never ever seen it either. Fantastic! Are you growing it? How cool!

      :) No I am not growing it, it grows in warm tropical climates in Kerala, Sri Lanka etc… The picture was taken in Kerala…

      • sunil
        October 19th, 2011 @ 11:00 am

        i grow it

    14. Ramya's Mane Adige
      April 4th, 2008 @ 6:02 am

      I would never have been able to guess!!!! Loved the pic though.. How did uu get hold of it?!?!?

      I found the tree in Kerala, and the dried version is always in stock at home… :)

    15. Uma
      April 4th, 2008 @ 7:24 am

      I saw your guessing game yesterday, Sig! But couldn’t dare to guess it, as I never saw it before. So, this is another kind of tamarind, ha! You are good at these games. Thanks for introducing a new variety. :smile:

    16. Cham
      April 4th, 2008 @ 7:41 am

      I use the dry version of kudampuli and now i know how the fruit will look like :wink:

    17. Asha
      April 4th, 2008 @ 7:58 am

      Are you sure the picture of the green one is Kudampuli? It’s look different from the actual kudampuli, especially the leaves

      Hi Asha, good to see you here after a looong time.. How have you been?

      Yes, I am sure it is kudampuli, I had a lot of local witnesses attesting the fact :)
      The long leaves that you see in the picture are from some other plant… I took a hurried picture somewhere in Kumarakam, and that bush had lot of different plants intertwined… You can see the kudampuli leaves also in the pic…

    18. mallugirl
      April 4th, 2008 @ 8:22 am

      first time that i am seeing a photo of the young puli. thanks for that and ur collection of kudam puli recipes.

    19. Manasi
      April 4th, 2008 @ 8:43 am

      Ohh… never heard of this! Is it closer to ‘kokum’ or tamarind in taste?

      I have only had kokum in solkadi, it was very mild… so I am going to say tamarind, though the taste is quite different… Still if I have to substitute kudampuli in a recipe, I will use tamarind.

    20. Suganya
      April 4th, 2008 @ 9:26 am

      Our Indian grocer is hopeless here. How I wish to lay my hands on these wrinkled beauties.

    21. Revathi
      April 4th, 2008 @ 12:38 pm

      Hmmmm since it is also puli I thought it would be similar to tamarind. Interestingggg one. Where did you get the picture of the young plant???

      I took the picture in Kerala…

    22. musy
      April 4th, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

      Beautiful ode to Kudampuli, Sig! Are you already back? Looks like you had a lovely trip :) .


      Nope, still here, I am having a lovely trip :)

    23. Reena
      April 4th, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

      Sig, I was in Seattle 2 weeks back. I was busy and it totally skipped my mind that you live there. We were driving around Pikes market and I remembered you mentioning it. :razz: Next time I will let you know.

      I wasn’t there… so I will forgive you.. :) Let me know next time…

    24. Cynthia
      April 4th, 2008 @ 4:45 pm

      Thanks for an interesting and informative introduction to a new ingredient.

    25. Mamatha
      April 4th, 2008 @ 6:06 pm

      I never would have guessed that. I’ve seen the dried version once before and it looked like yours but I really would like to see this one (from Inji Pennu’s blog)in all it’s metallic blue glory:

      I’ve never seen a metallic blue version!!! It is normally black…

    26. RedChillies
      April 4th, 2008 @ 7:39 pm

      Jeez, I did not know that kokum looked like that in ‘his’ youth. The dried kokum that I use does not look wrinkly at all :roll:
      But the pictures are beautiful!

      Repeat after me… KOKUM is NOT KUDAMPULI… KUDAMPULI is NOT KOKUM :D

    27. Miri
      April 8th, 2008 @ 2:55 am

      I have been trying to explain to people the green fruit which i loved to eat when I was younger…in Mumbai and Chennai. Didnt know what it was called and definitely didnt know it was kudampuli and that it dried up like this!! Thanks for the info!

    28. shilpa
      July 3rd, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

      Oh oh…I had not seen this post. I am glad to see the kudampuli fruit. Its gorgeous. And I love your reply to comment #26 :grin:

    29. shibu jacob
      May 23rd, 2010 @ 2:25 am

      Hi Sigma, very funky name. Thanx for confirming that kudam puli and kokam are not the same.My wife always was very vociferous about this but I was cynical about her belief.Yes a lot of cookbooks do perpetuate this myth about kokum being same as kodam puli. Ta

    30. P.P.Radhakrishnan
      September 15th, 2010 @ 3:42 am

      There is a similar fruit in the Konkan Region(Manglore side) and they call it Ottamba.Can you confirm that it is same as Kodumpuli

    31. Thomaskuty Palaparampil
      August 23rd, 2011 @ 1:35 am

      I am from central kerala.we never use the green one for curries.Only riped /with dark yellow colour can use in the place of mango‚Ķfor chutnies & curries.Take the fully riped Kodampuli,open,remove its seeds,cut the outer parts in to pieces,boil some water with little salt,remove the water bowl from stove and put this kudampuli in to the water keep it for 1 hour ,drain the water ,now this kudampuli peices are ready to add to any chutney type dishes.If you use the green one it will be Bitter-Sour mixed taste and it’s TAR(Kara in Malayalam) will yellowish (in colour) your teeth ..atleast for some time.

    32. sunil
      October 19th, 2011 @ 10:59 am

      Try kerala fish dish with this, awesommeeeeeeeeee

    33. food
      July 12th, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

      food science and technology

    34. S.Iyappan
      March 19th, 2013 @ 4:10 am

      Kudampuli reduce the belly, good for stomach and cure the ulcer.

      March 22nd, 2013 @ 8:52 am

      Hello, its pleasant article concerning media print, we all be aware of media is a wonderful source of facts.

    36. krishan
      May 5th, 2013 @ 10:59 am


    37. carrie
      June 2nd, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

      DOES anyone know where I can buy this fruit at online or in a store?

    38. Peter
      June 9th, 2013 @ 2:11 am

      Hi Krishan,
      I live in London. Do you have any idea where I can buy Kudampuli here?. Thanks in advance.

    39. JOANIE
      June 20th, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

      Does anyone know from where I can buy KUDAMPULI online ???

    40. Peter
      June 25th, 2013 @ 8:45 am

      I eventually found some in a Sri Lankan store in South Harrow (London) under the name Gorakka (or Goraka). You might be able to find specialist Sri Lankan suppliers near you. Good luck.