Gamboge is a medium evergreen, shade-loving, relatively slow growing tree naturally found in the local tropical rainforests of Sri Lanka. The tree is small to medium sized with horizontal or drooping branches. Its bark is blackish and rough with dark-yellow latex.The leaves are dark green, relatively thick and shiny. The leaves grow to be 5-13cm long and 2-8am broad. Goraka flowers are white blooms from February to April. The fruit is yellow, purple or red with 7–13 very deep vertical grooves. The flesh of the fruit is mild to distinctly acidic. Six to eight seeds, 2.5 cm long and 1.6 cm wide cling to the flesh of the fruit.
Goraka has been used in Sri Lanka since ancient times for culinary and medicinal purposes. The young Goraka fruits are green in color and it will gradually turn yellow when ripe. Once fully ripe, fruits are collected, cut in half, deseeded and sun-dried for a day. The sun-dried fruit halves are smoked till black, and are rubbed with a mixture of salt and oil before transferring to earthenware pots and tightly sealed. These will stay fresh for years.
The Goraka fruits are too acidic to be eaten raw. They are valued for their sundried rind which is widely used in Sri Lankan and Indian cooking. The ingredient is used in place of lime and tamarind in Indian sub continental cooking and is commonly known as Gambooge, Malabar Tamarind and Fish Tamarind. It is an essential ingredient in all the seafood loving kitchens in Sri Lanka. The dried fruit is used as a souring agent in South Indian and Sri Lankan famous fish curries and other seafood preparations.The dried Gorakarinds are used along with salt for washing seafood prior to cooking. Goraka is known to destroy histamine in fish by 80%. Gorakais also used as a preservative. Goraka is a key ingredient in preparing "Fish abulthiyal" which has a shelf life of about 7 days in room temperature. Goraka also improves the hardiness of the fishpieces.
Goraka has become the latest novelty to hit the health industry and has become in demand all over the world. Recent clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of Goraka in tackling weight loss and boosting the immune system. The famous Dr. Oz has also featured Gorakaas an effective fat burner that people around the world can use to lose their unwanted weight. Various parts of Garcinia Cambogia are used in Ayurveda for its therapeutic and antiseptic properties. It is used to promote digestion, and a decoction made out of it is used against Arthritis and some uterine deceases. It is also known to cure ulcers, weak gums and bowel complaints. Theleaves, bark and the flowers are used for treating fractures. It is also used in veterinary medicine. Goraka helps to boost the immune system, lower elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and help to protect the body against cancer.
Overseas, Goraka is made into liquids, capsules,tables and sold as a dietary supplement. Modern research is increasingly using Goraka as an active ingredient in preparing special blends that help weight loss, detox and rejuvenate the body. Goraka is also been used in food fortification especially in milk foods such as yoghurt.