Sunday, October 14, 2012

All About Cochin Goraka

This fruit’s also better known as the “false mangosteen,” “yellow mangosteen,” “rata,” “egg tree fruit” and “gamboge,” but I think cochin goraka just sounds better. It almost sounds like a martial arts move.

Indian names include: bhavishya, kalakhanda, pichchalabija, tamala and vakrashodana, dampel and jharambu.

Origin of Cochin Goraka
Cochin goraka is an Indian fruit, originating in the north. It’s in the mangosteen family, although by the looks of it, it resembles more of the “mango” than the “steen.” It’s quite surprising the two are related given the marked differences in color, appearance, skin and nutritional value.

Today the fruit grows throughout South Asia, particularly in India, Malaysia and Burma. Australia and Florida gardeners grow false mangosteen as well.

Availability of Cochin Goraka in India
This fruit grows wild in the north near the Himalayas and the hills of the southern region. Because it thrives in tropical and subtropical temperatures, many regions are suitable for this fruit to grow. Regions in which it thrives include the Himalayas, Sikkim, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Meghalaya.

The sour mangosteen is a low-maintenance crop: it yields fruit twice a year and a single tree bears plenty of bulb-shaped fruits. As a bonus, its flowers are highly aromatic.

Where to find False Mangosteen in India
Vendors sell cochin gorakas sell in the local villages more often than the bustling suburbs. Though the fruit is reasonably well-known in India and its cuisine, it’s not a staple nor is it readily found in the markets.

Checking for Ripeness in Cochin Goraka
Cochin goraka is a vibrant yellow, pale orange or dark yellow fruit when ripe; the skin is shiny, smooth and free of marks and blemishes.

Taste of the False Mangosteen
Cochin goraka is a breakfast fruit in some regions. Reviews seem to vary on the taste of this unusual fruit: though the pulp is very juicy, the taste is acidic and sour. Some people enjoy eating the bittersweet fruit from the tree, but those accounts are fewer than those who say it’s unpalatable without adding heaps sugar. Another comparison has been made to the loquat. The texture of a cochin goraka resembles a mangosteen: fleshy, hydrating, and can be broken down with only the tongue. It has a strong lemony flavor with the flesh getting sweeter closer to the fruit.

Nutritional Value of Cochin Goraka
The nutritional value for this particular type of mangosteen is unknown, though it likely contains high levels of ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Health Benefits of the False Mangosteen
The dampel fruit has many uses in Ayurveda: it is cooling, an antihelmitic, cardiotonic, used as a digestive aid, emollient, cholagogue, and demulcent. False mangosteen sherbert also combats biliousness.

The Chinese laud the fruit’s ability to expel worms and food toxins

Scientific studies indicate great health benefits associated with the sour mangosteen. The book, “Edible Medicinal and Non-Medicinal Plants” cites studies mentioning the following:
--Cochin goraka has a high amount of antioxidants
--Polysoprenylated benzophenones and benzophones found within sour mangosteen display anticancer activities
--Xanthones in the fruit may counter neurodegenerative disorders and have an antiproliferative effect on prostate cancer
--Extracts from the fruit displayed antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities in rats

How to Open/Cut:
The skin is edible, but inside remains 2-4 brown seeds (usually two) that require removal. They’re scooped out quite easily.

Sour Mangosteen Recipe Ideas and Uses:
--False mangosteen serves as a tamarind substitute
--It’s common to make vinegar from the fruit
--When salted and dried, it can be added to sauces for a fruity, acid flavor.
--Sour mangosteen accomplishes many purposes in curries: it reduces the oily, fatty flavor and also adds a lemony zest to the dish. Adding slices of the fruit counterbalances the richness of coconut curries quite nicely.
--Indians and Indonesians commonly pickle this fruit
--It’s also common to make a sorbet from the juicy flesh
--Church members in the Philippines took dried mangosteen rind, pounded them into a dried pulp, and sold them as nutritional capsules.
--When ample sugar is added, the blended fruit goes well in pies and cakes
--Its acidity makes it an ideal fruit for jams and chutneys
--The sour mangosteen serves as a nice substitution for lemons in any lemonade recipe
--Australians managed to make a butter recipe from false mangosteens. Given that it’s not vegan, though, I won’t post it.
--It can also make a nice dessert wine, according to one Australian winery.

Jam from

Personal Experience:

Random Facts:
The dye of this fruit is used to make watercolors and monk robes. “Gamboge” is actually a watercolor classification to indicate a golden-yellow color.

Scientific Name:
Garcinia xanthochymus
Garcinia tinctoria
Randia fitzalanii

A 1943 "LIFE" magazine ad.
Not a hint of racism or anything.

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