Kokum Saar ...... A Tangy Appetizer ....
The word Kokum when said instantly brings to mind kokum sherbet and kokum kadhi. Kokum known as Garcinia indica, is a plant in the mangosteen family (Clusiaceae), commonly known askokum, is a fruit-bearing tree that has culinary, pharmaceutical, and industrial uses. Kokum is largely grown in the western coast and is abundantly available in the konkan regions especially in Goa. This plant is a native of Southern region of India and somehow the distinct taste of the kokum did not allow it to go places. That is why there is no suitable name given to it in English. Both fresh and dried kokum are used extensively in the southern regions. They are also dried and stocked for future use. The dried kokum is used to flavour as well as give the tangy taste to the dishes. The darker the colour of the kokum the better it is known to be. It also acts as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacteria and anti-carcinogenic agent.
This fresh / dried fruit when consumed in the form of sherbet during summer months is considered to be a coolant and remove excess heat in the body. The dried kokum skin which is dark blackish in colour can be used in preparations of saar, curries, fish curries etc. I have already posted the famous Maharashtrian Kokum Kadhi prepared using kokum along with coconut milk. So also the famous Kokum chaas of Mardol Temple that is served everyday during both lunch and dinner. I have also posted some fish curries where I have used kokum as the souring agent. This one is a very simple saar without any other added ingredient to it except chillies for spiciness. But the taste of this spicy saar is so awesome that, in my home we serve this just as it is as an appetizer though it can be served with pulav or rice too.
Wash 10-15 semi dried kokums to remove dirt stuck to it if any and add it to 4 cups of water and bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for a good 10-15 minutes. Now add in 3-4 green chillies slit lengthwise or cut into rings, 1 more glass of water as the water will have reduced in quantity and simmer further for another 10 minutes. Add in salt to taste and remove from fire and keep aside for some time. Add 2 tblsp of finely chopped coriander leaves for garnishing and serve either hot or cold as an appetizer.
** Note : You can season this saar with Jeera in ghee. But I like to keep this sometime free off seasonings. The choice is yours. Both versions taste good.