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What are these salty sour black pellets?


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I bought these at an Indian Grocery store. They were not named or described, except with the brand or maker - Jay Andeshwar. They are salty - like they are made with black salt - Kala Namak as they are sulphury too. They also may have sour plums (or any other sour fruit like tamarind) and a few spices. Each pellet is about 1/2- 3/4 inch long and about 1/4 inch in diameter. Most of us thought they were horrible. I sort of liked them in a strange way.

I want to know what they are (what are they called?), what's in them, and why would people eat them (are they medicinal for instance)? Thanks!

Indian pellets.jpg

Edited by loki (log)
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I'll take a SWAG at it(SWAG = scientific wild a$$ guess) - salt cured wild purple mangosteen pulp


"Kokum Phool - [Wild Mangosteen (English); Amsool, Aamsul, Bindin, Biran, Bhirand, Bhinda, Bhrinda, Brinda, Kokum, Kokam, Katambi, Panarpuli, Kudam Puli, Ratamba (India); Goraka (Sri Lanka); Garcinia indica]

Split dried fruit

Kokum is purple fruit used as a souring agent, usually in dried form, though a soft salt preserved form is common in India. It is common along the western coast of India where the tree is native, and takes the place tamarind fills elsewhere. It is used in other regions as well, particularly Sri Lanka and Malaysia where it is used in fish curries and is said to slow spoilage.

In general, whole pieces of the dried fruit rind are added to curries and similar dishes. It is also used, often in syrup form, to flavor summer beverages. The photo specimens, obtained from an Indian market in Los Angeles, were up to 1-1/8 inches in diameter.

Oil from the seeds remains solid at room temperature and is used for confectionery, cosmetics and medicinals. Various parts of the fruit and plant are used medicinally."

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They are called CHOORUN, derived from the Sankrit cUrNa, crushed. They can be made from various things, but include a sour liquid base which is sun-dried along with rock salt, various whole spices [e.g. carom seed], and jaggery, the lot pounded together and rolled into tiny round pills or those balls.

Pomegranate juice and base is a favorite, and accounts for the purplish tinge. This pomegranate is the wild Himalayan type, whose dried "seeds" are used as a souring agent. Juice pomegranat.es may be included, depending on price point. In some choorun, you can clearly feel the seedy residue in your mouth: that is part of the joy. The sweet-sour-salty-pungent balance is the FUN in choorun, and is VERY popular outside schools. They are also said to aid digestion!! The little black balls are particularly good for this, and the purple balls that stain your tongue & fingers good for fun during school breaks.

The juice of Citrus jambhiri,a wild lemon, and the pulp of aonla/amalaki, Emblica officinalis, can be employed in manucturing choorun of various types.

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks - so far so good. The Kokum may be valid - but these items are not just dried kokum. I actually bought some of these too - to go into some dishes that call for them. I was never able to obtain them where I live. But these fruits do grow in the area where the little pellets are found (the state of Gujarat)...

CHOORUN - YES! but... I found the term spelled Churan more commonly. Means - like you said a school-time snack - that is not a sweet. However this term is not just for these pellets, but for all sorts of snacks.

I found this term - daleem. Seems to mean a rock salt (black salt) and sour fruit ball - with some spices like asofoetida and ajwain, etc. But this term may be only a slang term?

But then - I searched for this term and came upon:


This seems very close in 'look' to the ones I found, but there is little description of them.

The Harde refers to the plant Terminalia Chebula - and it's the fruits that are used.

I think this may be close to the answer. I don't think that this fruit is all that is used as it seems not to be sour or particularly tasty - but may provide the nearly black color. Pomegranate is a likely candidate for the sourness.

Now to confuse things more - the term Goli or Golli has come up - which as I interpret it - refers to a sort of pill made rather primitively from ground herbs, spices, sugary substances, and/or salts. These are for various ailments or digestion, but are also a sort of snack (like cough drops were for my generation of kids in the US).

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I always thought that churan was the powder (often ayurvedic formulas come in churan form, to be taken with ghee or milk or some other substance as medicine) and if it was made into a pill it was goli. Jeera goli is one common goli. They look like this to me, only not very round.

ETA: You know, I think I am thinking of churna, which is the ayurvedic formula in powdered form. Confusingly I have heard and seen people use churan instead, maybe a mis-spelling or another term. Either way, I can see how these are relate to them, and they do seem similar to goli.

Edited by Jenni (log)
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Daleem is the Bengali for pomegranate. Now we are getting into the regional terms for the SAME ALL INDIA RAT DROPPING things, hence all the confusion & heart burning!! So then,

Daleem is that pomegranate base we spoke of, so beloved in Bengal & elsewhere. In Bengainl, the older generaton will call it Daleem Hojmee, i.e. pomegranate digestive, to give sober ladies & widows the excuse to snack on the same stuff terminally naughty children are told to stay away from, or they will catch typhoid from the toon-toonwala. This is the man who brings a glass case full of dried & spiced Zizyphus nummularia, tiny wild jujubes, sweet-sour, sun-dried, oily, and mainly seed, but oh-so good when you are little! Also, fresh Spondias mombin, the hog-plum, mainly fibrous flesh, turned to magic with the miraculous powder carried ONLY by that mysterious tribe of toon-toon walas [so named, because because like the Pied Piper, they carry attach little tinkly bells to their persons]. Much else, including magical tops in amazing colors, spun with string, and glass marbles, and such wonders, all carried in the compass of a shallow, flat glass & wooden case not a meter long, propped up on a wicker stand.

Back to Churan which I spelt Choorun merely to communicate its phonemes. It begins life as a powder or moist base. From there it can be made into the moist round balls, elongate drier thingies, or there are other formulations that appear in the shape & size of peppercorns, & large peppercorns. GOLI means ball, or round shape. In Bengal, in various local carnivals their is a bewildering variety of HOJMI GOOLI, the Bengali phrase. Some have a whole CUMIN or CAROM seed at their center. This, I suppose, gives them their "digestive" property! Some are more sweet than others, or sour or salty, dry or crumbly.

Go to a BENGALI centric [not Bangladeshi! although I don't know if they stock those things]grocery store in the US/UK and ask if they stock CHUTNEY LOZENGES. The good stuff from Kolkata is wonderful for those with a taste for such things. Or ask a friend returning from Kolkata to get you some + DAW SEN's Sweet Mango Pickle, Chutney, & Curry Pastes. After the absolute garbage purveyed by a famous & ubiquitous brand out of UK, please try some good stuff. Sadly, Bengalis lack initiative & organizational drive to market these things globally.

Likewise, very high quality Sugar Date Palm Syrup [Nolen Gur] will leave many wondering why people have praised Maple Syrup to the skies:ignorance is bliss, I suppose. So will Date Palm Patali, far far superior than the finest maple sugar. The problem is uneven quality control.

Terminalia chebula: HARITAKI in Sanskrit, a famous stomachic & digestive;

renowned Ayurvedic dictum:

yadyapi kupitA mAtA nodarasthA haritakI :

even if a mother ever become enraged [using a literary trope, i.e. Indian moms are supposed to be all-forgiving] (at you), HARITAKI in the stomach will never upset (it).

Along with the AMALAKA/AMALAKI, Phyllanthus officinalis, [Emblica], Haritaki, is an important component of a set of stomachics & astringents called TRIPHALA, [three fruits] used for digestive purposes, and used in churan. The Sour & sweet hides the astringency. Carom is a carminative, and makes you burp; it is VERY popular in India, and culturally, burping is a very polite, and important part of dining & post-prandial etiquette.

In the Mahabharata, there is the famous episode of a sage known for his wicked temper & savage curses, arriving suddenly at the leaf hut where the exiled princes, the Pandavas, where eking out a living amidst great danger. With his flock of disciples, he demanded to be fed. The 5 Pandava brothers shared but a single wife, a remarkable woman, named Draupadi. In despair, she called upon Lord Krishna, who appeared and consumed the single morsel of rice left in her kitchen and burped in satisfaction. At this, the guests were filled to satiety, and recognized the error of their ways.

Burping is a silly word in English and has idiotic connotations. In Sanskrit, the term is UDGAAR, and the nuances are extraordinarily different. It implies satisfaction with the host, and the carminatives like fennel & carom, & churan, offered, after meals, especially betel leaf, and the elaborate service accompanying it, have great social & religious significance. Betel leaf is an obligatory item in most religious & social ceremonies, & this churan ties in with the digestive aspect of the post-prandial betel & its socio-religious place in the culture. Not just India but S.E. Asia.

When you hear rojak in Indonesia, you are hearing ROCAKA in SANSKRIT, the same idea as chaat, a sweet-sour element to stimulate DIGESTION in a hot climate, stimulate ruci, appetite!

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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