Sunday, October 14, 2012

All About Cochin Goraka

Though related to mangosteen, Cochin gorakas do not share mangosteen’s sweet, friendly flavor. Instead, the fruit has a sour, acidic bite that enhances the flavor of sherbets and curries. With over 240 fruits in the Garcinia genus, the substantial variety between them is unsurprising.

Origin of Cochin Goraka

Cochin goraka originates in the region spreading from India to Thailand, and south to the Malay Peninsula. Today, the fruit grows throughout South Asia, particularly in India, Malaysia and Burma. Australia and Florida gardeners also grow false mangosteen as an ornamental tree.

Availability of Cochin Goraka in India
Cochin goraka grows wild in the north near the Himalayas and the hills of the southern region. The fruits flourish in tropical and subtropical conditions, and thus, many of India’s states are conducive to growing the fruit. Regions in which Cochin gorakas thrive include the Himalayas, Sikkim, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Meghalaya.

The sour mangosteen is a low-maintenance, prolific crop: it yields fruit twice a year, and when in season, the trees explode with bulb-shaped fruits. As a bonus, Cochin goraka’s flowers are highly aromatic.

Where to find False Mangosteen in India
Vendors sell Cochin gorakas in the villages more often than in India’s frenetic urban cities. Though the fruit is reasonably well known in Sri Lankan cuisine, Cochin gorakas are not a staple in India, nor are they easily found in markets.

Checking for Ripeness in Cochin Goraka
Cochin goraka may be vibrant yellow, pale orange or dark yellow when ripe. Its skin is shiny, smooth and free of marks and blemishes.

Taste of the False Mangosteen
Cochin goraka has an acidic, sour taste with a strong lemony flavor. The flesh near the core, however, is sweeter and more palatable. Cochin goraka’s pulp resembles mangosteen with its fleshy, hydrating juiciness.

Reviews vary regarding the unusual fruit’s appeal: Though a minority enjoy eating the bittersweet fruit out of hand, most recommend adding sugar to improve its pungent taste.

Health Benefits of the False Mangosteen
In Ayurveda, sour mangosteen acts as a coolant, anthelmintic, cardiotonic, digestive aid, emollient, cholagogue, and demulcent. Cochin goraka sherbet also combats biliousness. In traditional Chinese remedies, parts of the plant are used to expel worms and clear food toxins.

Scientific studies reveal several great health benefits associated with the sour mangosteen:
--A 2009 study from the Chinese Journal of Chemistry identified five beneficial xanthones along with the seven known compounds, thus showing Cochin goraka to be a potent source of antioxidants
--A 2005 study published in the Journal of Natural Products found that the fruit’s benzophenones display anticancer activities against colon cancer cells.
--Xanthones in the fruit may counter neurodegenerative disorders and have an antiproliferative effect on prostate cancer
--As per a 1980 study published in Current Science, extracts from the fruit displayed antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities when tested in rats.
--A 2007 study published in Chemistry and Biodiversity indicates that xanthones in the tree bark exhibited cytotoxic activity against breast cancer cells and lung adenocarcinoma.

--A 2005 report published in Studies in Natural Products Chemistry cite a list of benefits deriving from cochin goraka’s compound, benzophenone: it is an antioxidant, antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-cancerous and anti-HIV.

How to Open/Cut:
The skin is edible, but two to four brown seeds (usually two) in the center require removal. The flesh is scooped out quite easily from its thin yellow skin.


Cochin gorakas have a long shelf life, keeping for up to 21 days at room temperature. In cool stage, the fruits last an extra three weeks. The juice maintains its integrity when frozen, although it should be extracted from the fruit before freezing.

Sour Mangosteen Recipe Ideas and Uses:
--In Indian cuisine, false mangosteen serves as a tamarind substitute
--Dried sour mangosteen is a stock ingredient of Asam laksa, a fish-based soup that ranked seventh on CNN Go’s 2011 list of the World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods
--Locals make vinegar from Cochin gorakas
--When salted and dried, the fruit rinds add a fruity, acid flavor to sauces.
--When added to curries, sour mangosteen accomplishes many purposes: it reduces the oily, fatty flavor and also adds a lemony zest. Most cooks also use it to counterbalance the richness of coconut milk.
--Indians and Indonesians commonly pickle this fruit by sautéing chunks of the fruit in oil, garam masala, mustard seed and fenugreek. It is then served alongside rice.
--Make a sorbet from the juicy flesh: Blend the pulp with water and mix with sugar syrup. Freeze, and then process through an ice cream maker, food blender, or hand blender. Serve rounds of the sorbet in the Cochin goraka shell if desired.
--When ample sugar is added, the blended fruit goes well in pies and cakes, and may also be folded into cheesecakes
--Its acidity makes it an ideal fruit for jams and chutneys
--Sour mangosteen juice serves as a nice substitution for lemons in any lemonade recipe.
--Australians manage to make a butter recipe from false mangosteens.

--Cochin gorakas also make a nice dessert wine

Jam from

Flavor Complements:
Fruits: Bilimbi, Burmese grape, cashew apple, elephant apple, garcinia cambogia, kokum, kiwi, lemon, lime, lakoocha, mango, orange, passion fruit, pineapple, pomelo, sea buckthorn, sweet lime, tamarind

Vegetables: Agathi, amaranth, asparagus, beetroot, tomato, bell pepper

Herbs, Spices, and Oil: Lemon juice, lemon zest, limejuice, coconut milk, sugar syrup, coconut oil, salt, pepper, lemongrass, garam masala, barbeque, tamarind paste, mustard seed, fenugreek

Random Facts:
The fruits also make a dye for watercolors and monk robes. The watercolor classification, “gamboge,” indicates a golden-yellow color.

A 1943 edition of “Life” magazine displayed a semi-racist ad portraying a partially nude Indian woman holding Cochin goraka—the advertisement is for plastic wrap, with the company claiming the fruits could stay fresh in transport from India to the US.

In some regions, locals eat Cochin goraka as a breakfast fruit.

Scientific Name:
Garcinia xanthochymus
Garcinia tinctoria
Randia fitzalanii

Other Names:
False mangosteen
Yellow mangosteen
Mysore gamboge
Sour mangosteen
Dampel (Assamese)
Chalata (Bengali)
Aruak (Garo)
Jharambi, tamal, tumul (Hindi)
Devajarige (Kannada)
Anavaya (Malayalam)
Thehmusaw (Mizo)
Tapinchha (Oriya)
Bhavishya (Sanskrit)
Paccilai (Tamil)

Cikatimranu (Telegu)
A 1943 "LIFE" magazine ad.
Not a hint of racism or anything.