Many people seem to think so. But they are different though belonging to the same family. The former is used in Marathi and Konkani cuisine. The scientific name for kokum is Gracinia indica. Some of the other names are amsul, katambi, panarpuli and mangosteen. Photo on the left shows two kokum fruits
Kudampuli (kudam = pot + puli = sourness) is an essential ingredient in many Kerala fish and seafood recipes, and is also used in some vegetable preparations. It is Garcinia cambogia but commonly referred to as Fish Tamarind, Malabar Tamarind or Kerala Tamarind. Other names include Gambooge, Brindal
The kudampuli tree can grow to a height of 50 feet but starts yielding when they are much smaller. The green fruits turn golden yellow as they ripen. They look almost like a tiny pumpkin. The fully ripe ones fall down, usually at night, and are picked up in the morning. Or one can shake the branches to get them. I have not seen anyone climbing a kudampuli tree to pluck the fruits.
The collected fruits are washed and opened. The seeds inside are coated with creamy flesh. They are edible but too sour for normal palate. It looks almost like the inside of mangostein fruit. I am not sure whether butter, like in the case of kokum, can be made with it.
The thick rind is sun dried and also smoked. When the process is completed, the end product looks almost black. (If the essence is extracted, the remainder would appear brown or less intense in color.) It is then rubbed with a little salt and oil and stored in jars. The shelf life is long. A number of sites on the Internet provide recipes using kudampuli.
The kudampuli pieces in a dish are not eaten. Their function is to blend the flavors and to act as a preservative. A curry known as ‘meen pattichathu’ made with kodampuli would last for a few days without refrigeration. In fact the full bloom of taste is reached only by the third day. Kudampuli imparts its medicinal values to the food while cooking and in storage.
What are the medicinal properties of kudampuli? An effective ingredient in kudampuli is hydroxycitric acid (HCA). In Ayurveda kudampuli is used for treating stomach ulcers, arthritis, some uterine problems, to promote digestion and as carminative and antiseptic.
There are claims that kudampuli may reduce cholesterol levels. It is also widely accepted as a weight reducing agent; several anti-obesity formulations containing dried and ground kudampuli rind are available in the market. New research indicates that kudampuli may be useful in diabetes management as well.
Kudampuli is yet another of nature’s gifts to man.
(Photos from Olavipe by me. Copyright reserved. Click on images for enlarged view.)