Garcinia atroviridis (asam gelugor)
THERE does not seem to be an English name for this fruit, which is commonly used in South East Asian cooking.
The fruit is native to Peninsular Malaysia and is used mainly in curries, soups and stews as a souring agent.
It is cultivated mostly in the northern states of the country for culinary and medicinal use.
The perennial Garcinia tree is also found in the southern region of Thailand.
The asam gelugor tree is a member of the Garcinia family and is a close cousin to the sweet-sour mangosteen and kokam ( Garcinia indica), an evergreen tree native to India.
Kokam is a souring agent that is milder than tamarind.
The small round asam gelugor fruit is also known as asam keping (with reference to the dry fruit slices) while in Thailand, it is called madan.
Often found as dry slices, the fruit, recognisable from its flat round surface with ruffled edges and sharp distinct taste, is extremely sour and is not eaten fresh.
Theripe fruits are bright orangeyellow, which are then sliced and dried, resulting in thin shrivelled dark rimmed earthy-hued slices.
The fruit is said to be rich in antioxidants and there is good news for those seeking to shed some pounds as researchers at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia say that asam gelugor helps convert fat to energy.
Souring agent: The dried asam gelugor or asam keping helps add punch and flavour to soups, curries and stews.