Sol Kadhi

It was a fantastic Saturday evening. We left the cocktails to Dad. Mum made some Kolambi Pulav (prawn/shrimp rice). I made the Sol Kadhi. And we grilled some fish.

The key ingredients in Sol Kadhi are coconut milk and kokum. Kokum, botanical name Garcinia Indica, is a tropical fruit grown in coastal Maharashtra and along the stretch all the way to Mangalore. Kokum is also called Sol in parts of Goa and Maharashtra which is why the drink is called Kokum Kadhi or Sol Kadhi. The fruit is pink, almost resembling a plum. And what goes into the recipe is it’s dried outer skin, which is also called aamsul. Kokum typically has a slight sour and spicy taste to it and when mixed with food, yields a dark red colour. It is a preferred substitute for tamarind in several Indian curries, more so Konkan cuisine.

While a few Indian recipes that call for coconut milk can be made using a mix of coconut milk powder (which is readily available at stores) and warm water, this recipe demands using freshly made coconut milk.

Ingredients:
1. 1 coconut, freshly grated
2. 12-15 kokum halves
3. 2 teaspoons garlic paste
4. 2 teaspoons green chillies, ground to a paste
5. salt to taste
6. 2-3 cups water

Method:
1. Bring some water to a boil.
2. Empty the water out into a tall vessel and add the grated coconut to it.
3. When the mixture has come down to room temperature, lay out some muslin on another tall vessel. Divide the coconut and water mixture roughly into three or four portions. Put the first one into a food blender and add the chillies, garlic and kokum to it. Blend for a couple of minutes. Pour the mixture out into the muslin and strain it. The muslin acts as a fine sieve and lets the coconut milk (now flavoured) seep through. Squeeze out the excess fluid and keep the dry coconut aside.
4. Strain the juices/milk out of the other portions of coconut milk in a similar manner. Of course, now, you don’t need to add more kokum or spices. You did that just one time in step 3, where you used all the spices and kokum in a single step.
5. You know you’ve extracted as much coconut milk as possible when you pop some of the ‘waste’ coconut into your mouth and it is hopelessly dry and awful, almost tasteless.
6. As a rough measure, one coconut – a sphere about 4 inches in diameter and 3 cups of water gives me about 6 cups of sol kadhi, possibly a little more.
7. Add salt to taste. Feel free to add some more kokum or chillies to suit your taste.
8. Mix well and refrigerate before serving.
9. Garnish with a few sprigs of coriander.

A lot of people give the sol kadhi a tadka. I’ve never tasted sol kadhi like that. I’ve come to love the plain kind I’ve grown up drinking.

Now, sol kadhi is a refreshing drink, if you’d like to call it that. It’s a cold soup, if you please.

Sol Kadhi goes best with really spicy Konkan food – fried fish and chapatis. Or clams cooked in coconut and spices. Or even spiced prawns, fried. Since we had already put a whole fish on the grill, we made prawn rice instead.

It’s a simple recipe: Ghee. Add whole spices – black peppercorn, a bay leaf, some whole cardamom. Add some ginger, garlic, green chillies and onions and saute. Follow with diced tomatoes and cook until they’re done. Add to that shrimp, marinated in salt, turmeric, red chilli powder and dhaniya powder. Toss around for a while. Add in some basmati rice and water. And cook to goodness.

That with the sol kadhi is divine. D-I-V-I-N-E.

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