I was first introduced to this fruit on a very hot summer day in Sringeri, a hill town from coastal Karnataka where a bunch of us from the 600 and odd cadets were chosen to trail the community services as part of youth development, volunteering camp in India called NCC-National Cadet Corps.
After experiencing the serenity of nature and wilderness both alike, we were summoned to a homestay cottage to experience the divine nature and hospitality of the unknown hosts.
They welcomed the tiring and the not so tiring souls to quench their existing thirst by offering this cherry-looking red drink called kokum sherbet, a drink made from fruit concentrate. That was decades ago, and I haven't turned back from it yet and not yet.
Kokum is a species belonging to a tropical plant family called Garcinia that contains HCA-Hydroxy citric Acid, a known serotonin booster and is known as Garcinia Indica in English.
There are many different methods to use Kokum. In coastal India, it is dried to add flavour to other dishes. Some use it as a sweet-sour agent in place of tamarind. Some use it to enhance the heat of the spices in a dish. While some prepare a concentrate by turning this into a syrup making a refreshing drink, others like me prefer to use it in its most natural form by either brewing or infusing it directly into water and steeping it overnight.
It is best served at room temperature with a little pinch of Himalayan salt or rock salt to take away the bite that comes from the tangy-tartness of the rind. Here is how we make it.
Steeping Time -12 HRS
Total Time-12 hrs plus 5 mins
5-6 pieces of dry-wet kokum rind
2 cups cold water
Himalayan salt to taste
1 tbsp honey, optional
¼ tsp cumin seed powder, optional
Step 1: Add water into a serving pitcher and soak the kokum pieces into the water to steep overnight.
Step 2: Season the drink with a pinch of salt and sweeten it with honey.
Step 3: Divide the drink in two serving glasses and serve at room temperature.
Stevia syrup is the best alternative to honey and can be enjoyed chilled.
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