Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Presents from Pooja

Arusuvai Friendship Package from Pooja

“Oh my! She shouldn’t have to” I thought while opening the parcel.

Aachari, garam and jaljeera - three types of masala powders, all homemade. Hazelnut chocolates. Stainless steel pepper mill and saltshaker. And a greeting card.

When I first started food blogging, I knew it was something I would enjoy, but I had no idea how much fun it could be. Neither a sweet talker nor a social butterfly, essentially a social hermit and a solitude seeker, I have never expected neither attention nor affection. But that’s exactly what food blogging has brought to my life. It has been an Arusuvai kind of experience. (Arusuvai means six tastes in Tamil and refer to theepu-sweet, karam-hot, kassappu-bitter, pulupu-sour, uppu-salt, tuvarpu- like umami, a special taste that one gets from raw vegetables and herbs.)

Without a doubt, one of the best aspects of this arusuvai experience has been the surprise gifts that led to special relationships. It happened again last week. Pooja of My Creative Ideas has sent me a friendship package. I’ve been following Pooja’s writings since she started her blog. Cheerful personality, creative nature with childlike innocence. It’s impossible not to be charmed by Pooja’s passionate flair and delightful exuberance.

Thank you dear Pooja, for this special arusuvai friendship package!

Here is what I have come up with Pooja’s Aachari masala (pickle masala powder). I’ve put together six tastes in an attempt to create an Arusuvai experience, and it has turned out to be a memorable success.

Cucumber-Mint Relish
Cucumber-Mint Relish with Pooja’s Aachari Masala
~ A Convergence of Arusuvai Friendship


1 palm-length cucumber (Moroccan/Indian variety), cut to thin rings
2 sprigs fresh mint – leaves plucked
¼ cup - kokum water
¼ cup - limejuice
1 tablespoon - jaggery gratings
½ teaspoon - Aachari (Pickle) masala
¼ teaspoon - salt

In a cup, take kokum water, limejuice, jaggery, aachari masala and salt. Mix with a spoon for few minutes until jaggery dissolves.

In a shallow serving bowl, place cucumber rounds and mint leaves in layers. Pour the juice. Top with mint leaves. Refrigerate or place in a cool area for about ten minutes. Serve as a light snack or as a side dish to main meal. Munch on a piece of cucumber and mint. Then sip a teaspoon of juice. Sweet, sour, bitter and spicy with some tuvarpu (umami), this cucumber relish will be truly an arusuvai experience.

Kitchen Notes:
Aachari Masala (R/C Pooja) - Dried red chilli, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, Nigella seeds and garlic. Skillet roast in few drops of oil. Add salt and powder them together to fine.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Limes/Lemons, Mint, Cucumbers, Kokum (Amsool) (Friday April 18, 2008 at 10:31 pm- permalink)
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Kokum (Garcinia Indica, Amsool)

Kokum (Amsul, Amsool, Sol)
Kokum (Amsool, Amsul, Sol)

The kokum tree is a graceful tropical tree and grows in the Konkan, Malabar and Kanara regions of Western India that are gifted with rich soil, adequate rainfall and very good sunshine. Kokum tree reaches a height of 10-15 meters, has dark green foliage and a pyramidal shape. The tree blooms from November to February and the fruits ripen in April-May. The kokum fruit ratamba looks similar to small variety plum, and has dark purple color when ripe. Fruits are harvested when ripe and only the rind is preserved by drying in the Sun. That is Kokum. Sometimes salt is rubbed onto the rind to speed up the drying process.

Just like tamarind, kokum is mainly used as a souring agent. Kokum has a fruity and tangy flavor. Kokum fruit is considered to act as a Cholagogue, and is also used in treatment of skin rashes caused by allergies. Kokum fruit is steeped in sugar syrup to make Amrut-Kokum, and is used to avoid sunstroke.

When buying kokum, look for soft, pliable rinds. Good quality kokum is dark purple in color. I have seen Kokum with white crystals on it and it just means that too much salt was used in the drying process. No worry. Just wash the kokum rinds in cold water before using.

Another avatar of kokum is Kokum Butter, an excellent emollient, and is now used by the cosmetics industry for lotions, creams, lip balms and soaps. Kokum butter has a relatively high meting point, considered one of the most stable exotic butters (Shea butter, cocoa butter, etc) and hence doesn’t need refrigeration. It is extracted from the kokum seed and is supposed to reduce degeneration of skin cells and restore elasticity.

Ayurvedic medicine considers Vrikshamla, Sanskrit name for kokum, to be pitta pacifying and uses the fruit, root, bark of Kokum tree to treat acidity, pitta related allergies and some abdominal ailments.

Konkani cuisine has given the world an amazing gift of Sol Kadhi, an appetite arousing drink prepared with kokum and coconut milk. Sol kadhi involves almost no cooking. Some enjoy Sol Kadhi with rice and roti, but I love to drink it just by itself.

Sol Kadhi Ingredients
Coconut Milk, Green Chilli, Kokum, Cilantro, Cumin and Jaggery

Sol Kadhi

5 or 6 Kokum
1 cup coconut milk (Homemade, or Canned unsweetened type)
1 green chilli
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
Sugar or jaggery, and salt - to taste
2 fresh sprigs of fresh cilantro

Soak Kokum in a cup of warm water for half an hour, to soften and to release juice.

Grind green chilli and cumin to fine paste.

Once the kokum water turns pink, take it in a big cup or glass. Add coconut milk. Stir in sugar or jaggery and salt to taste. Also the cumin-chill paste. Mix. Garnish with cilantro leaves and drink immediately. Do not leave kokum soaked in as it will make the sol kadhi sourer than normal. (Some also like to add a pinch of grated ginger and garlic.)

During winter, I warm up the sol kadhi for few minutes and enjoy it as a soup. During hot summer months, I prefer to take it at cold or at room temperature.

If you have never tried Kokum before, then Sol Kadhi would be a good start. The agreeable flavor and sweet, acidic taste will get you hooked on this amazing Kokum drink.

Sol Kadhi
Soul’s Awakening in Baby Pink ~ Sol Kadhi

By Anjali Damerla

Previously on Anjali’s Supreme Spice Series: Herbs and Spices

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Coconut (Fresh), Herbs and Spices, Anjali Damerla, Kokum (Amsool) (Thursday January 24, 2008 at 12:42 pm- permalink)
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