Kokum is a versatile Indian specialty spice which ranks highly by both culinary and medical standards. The major culinary uses of kokum are as a garnish for curries and in the preparation of syrups.
Kokum has an agreeable flavour and a sweet, acidic taste that enhances coconut-based curries. Kokum has the same souring qualities as tamarind, and the two are sometimes used interchangeably. Adding a few pieces of kokum to a curry while cooking gives the pleasant fruity flavour and agreeable acidic bite so characteristic of South Indian dishes.
Kokum is especially used with fish curries, three or four rinds being enough to season an average dish. The skins are not usually chopped but are added whole to the dish. It is used in vegetarian dishes of potatoes, okra or lentils and is also used in chutneys and pickles. Kokum is frequently used in Gujarati cooking to add flavor and tartness to dal.
The famous Malvani Solkadhi, a type of curry usually had with rice or sometimes drunk after meals, is made from coconut milk and kokum. Solkadhi is renowned for its digestive properties. Deeper colour of the rind indicates better quality kokum. Kokum petals can be very strong, so add only a few at a time. It will keep in an airtight jar for about a year.