Kokum is a dark purple/almost black fruit native to India and is commonly used as a “souring agent” especially in Goan, Konkani & Maharashtrian cuisines. Kokum is usually sold in its dried form - it is then soaked in warm water & the resulting liquid or juice is then added as a souring agent in many dishes. But if you are unable to find kokum in your area, you can easily use tamarind as a good substitute.
Kokum has many health benefits as well, playing a strong role in both cardiovascular & digestive wellbeing. It also contains helpful antibacterial, antioxidant & anti-inflammatory properties.
My Kokum Fish Curry is simple to prepare & absolutely delicious to eat. It’s a really nice way to try kokum & add this unique ingredient to your pantry.
You can make this dish using any firm fish such as tilapia, cod, flounder, salmon, halibut, mahi mahi, sea bass, swordfish, sole, grouper, snapper… You could also make this recipe using really any seafood or shellfish. Try it with chicken, vegetables, extra firm tofu or any combination of your favorite ingredients.
KOKUM FISH CURRY
4 large boneless/skinless fish filets, cut into 1½” size pieces
2 dried purple kokum petals
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1” piece of ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
½ cup freshly grated coconut
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
½ tsp ground coriander powder
salt & pepper, to taste
½ tsp black mustard seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
3-4 dried red chilies, to taste
5-6 fresh curry leaves
pinch of asafetida (hing)
2 tbsp coconut oil (or you can use vegetable or canola oil)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
First, soak the dried kokum petals in about ¼ cup of warm water for at least 30 minutes. Set aside until needed.
Using a food processor or blender, grind the onion along with the garlic cloves, ginger & grated coconut into a thick paste adding water as needed.
In a large deep pot on medium high heat, add 1 tbsp of the coconut oil. When hot, add in the spices (turmeric, red chili powder, ground coriander powder, salt & pepper). Mix well and after about 30 seconds or so carefully add the ground onion mixture. Let cook until just lightly browned & then add in the kokum water. Bring to a gentle boil, adding more water if needed. Then add in the fish pieces, cover, reduce the heat to low and let simmer gently for about 6-8 minutes or until the fish is completely cooked yet still tender. Do not overcook.
Meanwhile, in another small saucepan on medium high heat – add the remaining 1 tbsp of coconut oil. When hot, carefully add the black mustard seeds and allow them to splatter. Then quickly add the cumin seeds along with the dried red chilies & asafetida. Let sizzle for about 30 seconds or so & then pour this entire hot oil mixture over the fish curry. Garnish with the cilantro leaves and serve as part of any delicious Indian meal.