December 30, 2010

Feasting for a good beginning - Urad Kokum Chi Dal

Growing up, very little was known to me about these tangy, purple berries called "Kokum" which are native to India and very widely used in Konkani cooking. It was only until, Manisha blogged about this 'tadpole-like' guessing game, I came to know there existed such a thing called Kokum.

Since then, my hands were itching to get hold of these tiny  beauties and finally I did. A little google search would enlist the numerous medicinal properties that this fruit has. :-)

Kokum can be added to our regular dals, vegetables or curries, as a healthy replacement to tamarind or lemon, due to its high antioxidant properties. It is also very colorful when added as strips to salads or any yogurt-based dish(es) and renders a little tangy flavour along with the reddish purple colour.

If you wish to know more about this fruit, you should read this fantastic post by Shilpa.

Kokum is now readily available in most of the Indian stores, here in US.

...and here is how it looks -

dried kokum phool

According to this article on epicurious, lentils are one of the lucky foods to be consumed for a good new year start -

"Legumes including beans, peas, and lentils are also symbolic of money. Their small, seedlike appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with financial rewards in mind. In Brazil, the first meal of the New Year is usually lentil soup or lentils and rice, and in Japan, the osechi-ryori, a group of symbolic dishes eaten during the first three days of the new year, includes sweet black beans called kuro-mame." .. read more

So, Today's recipe features lentils (so that we too can have a lucky start for 2011) - "Urad Kokum Chi Dal" is adapted from the curry bible - 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. This is a delicious accompaniment to both fluffy rotis & a bowl of hot rice. The creaminess of urad dal intermingled with tartness from kokum and a slight hint of chillies play very well. Our taste buds were very happy when I had this with brown rice on one of those chilly weeknights.

Urad Kokum Chi Dal

Adapted from Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries

Ingredients -

1 cup urad dal (cream-colored, split black lentils)
4 pieces of dried black kokum pieces
1 tbsp ghee or oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
4-5 fresh green chillies (I used the Thai variety, stems removed & thinly sliced. add more if desired)
3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1/4 cup shredded coconut (I used frozen, thawed slightly and then MW for 20 secs. fluff with fork)
salt - to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric
fresh curry leaves - 10-12

Preparation -

1. Place the lentils in a medium sized sauce pan, rinse & drain them thoroughly until the water is relatively clear. Add 3 cups of water and  Bring it to a boil (uncovered) over medium heat. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on the surface. Stir in turmeric and kokum pieces, cover the pan and cook on a medium-low heat for abotu 20 mins, until the lentils are a little tender.

2. Meanwhile, heat ghee or oil in a skillet, add cumin seeds, until they start to sizzle. (~ 10 seconds). Add in green chillies, garlic and saute until lightly browned. (~ 1 to 2 minutes). Mix in tomato pieces, shredded coconut, salt & curry leaves. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are completely mushy, but slightly chunky. (~ 3 to 4 minutes). Set aside the skillet.

3. Now, once the lentils are ready, add the sauce prepared in Step 2 and Stir. Pour 1 cup of water into the skillet to get those extra bits stuck at the bottom, ( I love those, they taste so yummy!) and pour the water back into the lentils. Cover the pan and simmer on medium heat until the sauce is thickened. (~ 10-12 minutes). 

4. Remove the kokum pieces and it is ready to serve with rotis or brown rice.

Check out how other blogger friends say about our *kokum* -

Nupur's Masoor Shengdana Amti (Lentil stew with Peanuts)
Musy's post on Kokum with links to many other ways to use Kokum
Red Chillies - Sol Kadi/Konkani style Kokum Kadi
Manasi's Kulith Pithla
Deesha's Kokum Tambli

Hope you are all ready for a fun New Year's Eve tomorrow. Don't forget to have one or more of these lucky foods on Jan 1st so that you can a good (read lucky) start to 2011.

[Update] - Sending this bowl of piping hot dal to Priya's MLLA 30 event, originally started by Susan of "The Well Seasoned Cook".

until next time,


  1. Hi Siri,Thats one bowl of comforting dal.I have never used kokum till now.will try to get them when i go back to india..Bookmarked this recipe :)

    And wishing you a very happy new year and may you be blessed with all that is best and beautiful in life :)

  2. happy new yr 2011
    dal looks delicious

  3. Wishing u a happy and prosperous new year to u and ur family..Comforting dal..

  4. One of my friends gave me kokum that she brought back from India, but I never got to use it. Will make this lentil dish tomorrow, may I'll get lucky too :-)
    Wish you and your family a very Happy New year.

  5. The photo you have published as Kokum is a wrong one. This appears as Artocarpus lakoocha, another savouring agent.If you want, I can send you a good pic of fresh Kokum fruit - Garcinia indica.

    - Shree Padre

  6. PJ - Thanks PJ. I never used(actually seen would be a better word) kokum before this PJ. But, it was one surprising & tangy discovery. Hope you do too, soon.

    Priyanka, Priya - Thanks. Wishing you a very Happy 2011 too.

  7. Pavani - Hehehe, lucky and also it is good for our tummy too Pavani. ;-). Wishing you a very Happy and Prosperous 2011.

  8. Shree - Thanks for your f/b. But, the photo that is published is in fact - dried Kokum Phool. I confirmed that from the package and also through one of my kannada friends who stay near by :-). Sometimes the photos can be quite deceptive and similarly looking. Happy 2011.

  9. A very Happy new year to you n ur family , loved going thru ur wonderful blog !!!

    - Smita
    (fun foods for little eaters

  10. That definitely looks like one delicious dal! Have a great New Years!

  11. Thanks for your Loving wishes, Siri! :)

    Have a fantastic year ahead!! :)

    Urad dal, kokum curry is totally new to me!Makes a comfort side dish for sure!

    bharathy :)

  12. Happy New year siri and S. We are just getting back to the normal routine and checking mail with one hand :)

    Will mail u later, just checkin mail today...

  13. Lovely recipe. 660 curries is one of my favorite cookbooks. Best wishes for the New Year.

  14. Looks yummy! My first time here!


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