The sweet side of souring agents – health benefits

by Sanjeev Kapoor

These sour, tangy, khatta and chatpata souring agents may not the prime ingredient in a recipe, but their touch of acidity is essential to round off and balance any good dish. The glorious, addictive taste isn’t all they offer, a bunch of health benefits are in store too. Take a look

Green mangoes (kairi/ amchur)Ripe mangoes are a universal favourite, but the green raw ones have their share of fanatics especially in South East Asia. Amchur or raw mango powder is what gives so many dishes especially North Indian ones that delicious smack of tang.

  • Good source of Vitamin C and A
  • Healthy probiotic fibers help to treat gastro-intestinal disorders.
  • Helps treating morning sickness and sun strokes.
  • High in vitamin c cures scurvy and blood disorders.
  • Is a great tenderizer as it helps break down enzymes in food faster.


Tamarind (imli)is sort of a translation from the Persian "Tamar-I-hind," meaning "date of India". Tamarind contains tartaric acid (as opposed to citric) which makes it rich in anti-oxidants. A good source of dietary fibre, iron and zinc, it tastes great in dal, stir fries and with legumes.

  • Helps in lowering cholesterol levels
  • Protects from Vitamin C deficiency
  • As a good source of antioxidants, tamarind helps fight against cancer
  • Blood purifier and mild laxative


Lemon Juice (nimbu)- The most widely used souring agent in the world, lemons provide not just tang but also a zing of freshness that instantly lifts a dish. With a high concentration of citric acid it compliments sweet and savoury dishes with bonus points for being ultra-healthy.

  • Provides immunity against cold
  • Helps fight cancer with its 22 anti-carcinogenic compounds.
  • Anti-ageing, antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Is great for healthy skin, hair, teeth and nails.
  • Lemons are brilliant for cleaning up cooking stains on chopping boards and utensils.


Bilimbi – This one is almost exclusive to South East Asia and some parts of Africa and South America. The bilimbi fruit is bright green, juicy and of course really tangy. Tastes a lot like Indian gooseberry or amla and is often eaten with just a sprinkle salt and red chilli powder.
High concentration of oxalic acid which is useful for cleaning and bleaching.
Laxative and cures problems of the stomach
Helps cure fever, cough and inflammation.
The leaves help to cure itching, acne and skin eruptions.
Controls cholesterol


Yogurt (dahi)– This worldwide super food is often used in India as a souring and thickening agent in curries and marinades.
The probiotics in yogurt helps curing Diarrhea, constipation and other digestive disorders.
Good source of potassium, calcium, magnesium and vitamins B2 & B12.
Helps in losing weight and increases immunity
Benefits for hair and skin
Acts as a tenderizer for tough meat and even gets rid of some of the fishy smell from seafood.
 Browse through sanjeevkapoor.com for chatapata recipes and food trivia.
 

Recommended recipes-

Kairi Ki Dal,  Raw Mango Rice,  Sol Kadhi,  Solkadi,  Thai Style Tamarind Prawns,  Dahi Quinoa,  Tamarind Leaves Chutney,  Kairi Murg,  Lemon Possets,  Lemon and Coriander Hummus

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.