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Updated: March 8, 2014 23:12 IST

Season for jackfruit tales

Usha Ramani
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Huge Jackfruits hang near Ramachandrapuram on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Photo: P.V.Sivakumar
The Hindu Huge Jackfruits hang near Ramachandrapuram on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Photo: P.V.Sivakumar

A lingering smell that pervades the entire household, easily drawing us to the store room, without a doubt. For that’s where the jack of fruits is stored. Its porcupine-like exterior would have assumed a greenish-yellow hue. A whiff of chill air always remains locked in the room, with streaks of sunlight falling on the floor through the crevices of the roof.

April is the time of Vishu, the Malayalam New Year’s Day — also the time of the Tamil New Year. This is when the jackfruit is felled from the tree and dragged into the store room. Grandpa used to tell me that was the right time to have the fruit pared off the tree so that it begins to ripen in the store room. He wanted to take full responsibility: which meant cutting it, deftly-tearing apart the humungous fruit into equal halves, dealing with the gooey mess of the sticky interior with the aid of coconut oil smeared on the palms.

Quite a ceremonious ritual this used to be each year. As kids we only stood aside as spectators until the fruit was fleshed out completely. Sometimes crunchy, sometimes very soft and slimy, the flesh is worthy of the arduous cleaning process.

After the flesh was plucked out, there was more work: it had to be deseeded. Grandpa somehow believed we kids could lend a helping hand in the deseeding operation. Little did he realise that we were there only to pop them into our mouths. Of course the moment he saw our mouths bulging with the flesh and seed, some chiding used to ensue. All this, so that a variety of edible items could be prepared for the whole family. Nonetheless, eating the flesh before it was dispatched to the kitchen was delightful.

The crunchier lot of the flesh is usually reserved for fritters. The flesh is sliced and then fried until golden yellow with light brown edges, in some salt-laden coconut oil. Slurp! It is one of my favourite snacks. In fact I prefer this one to its cousin of the fritter family: banana fritters. The wobbly flesh is meant for some jam-like preparation.

This is made by sautéing the flesh in jaggery and ghee. Over the flame, a jam-like concoction thickens over time. It is even preserved in stainless steel or glass jars to make payasam.

The seeds are not binned; rather, they are spread out in a large tray and left to dry in the sun. Once dried, the skin of the seed is peeled out and used in regular cooking. There are standalone recipes made just with the seeds: they are pressure-cooked and then sautéed in coconut oil, with some pepper and salt tossed in at the end.

Keywords: jackfruitVishu

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Apart from being super delicious, jackfruit is also very health-friendly
(except for diabetics). It is great for the digestive system. I wish it
were more easily available where I live.

from:  Bhavin
Posted on: Mar 11, 2014 at 12:36 IST

I can simply remember those early days in Kollam, my native, house filled with the aroma of CHAKKA, here in Delhi we only get the raw which is used for curry, but i like it most when its ripe and sweet.
Plenty for everyone entire season.
Great Fruit.

from:  Saju
Posted on: Mar 10, 2014 at 22:10 IST

Nostalgic, brought those old scenes back - good narration

from:  Alagendran
Posted on: Mar 10, 2014 at 17:09 IST

Wow, this is a beautiful article, takes me back to my childhood days in
Thrissur !!!

from:  BVR
Posted on: Mar 10, 2014 at 16:29 IST

usha........ good work

from:  remya
Posted on: Mar 9, 2014 at 11:02 IST

The writer has expressed the views on the sweet dishes from jackfruit. I used to enjoy the
CHAKKA MOLAKESHYAM prepared by mother, when she was alive. I used to prefer this
particular curry for my meals, and it is easy to prepare that as well. The PODI THUVAL is
another side dish, which was another favorite. The keralites generally prefer the JACK
FRUIT CHIPS as well to the banana chips, when jack fruit is available in the market . But
due to the felling of trees everywhere, the number of jack fruit trees(PULAVU) are on the
descent. What to do?

from:  Chandra das c p
Posted on: Mar 9, 2014 at 08:06 IST
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