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Friday, May 22, 2009

Jackfruit - The Super(b) Fruit

Shobha visited her aunt(atthai) in Saibaba Colony last week and was gifted a large chunky jackfruit. The atthai has a few jackfruit trees in her compound and tends to their nutrition requirements meticulously. As a result the trees bear fruit for about 3-4 months every year.
The cutting & hacking, removal of the thick prickly skin & removal of the velvety yellow fruit & ejection of the seeds is an expert job and this duty is normally handed over to Shobhas father. But notwithstanding his "expertise: this process leaves behind quite a mess which requires articulate clean up. This time around we were lucky - our newly appointed man Friday appeared to be an expert too on this subject. He was excited at seeing the jackfruit and immediately took the fruit away to a remote corner and went about the task of skinning the fruit. He did this with such clinical precision and did not leave behind any kind of mess.
The skin had been neatly chopped away, the sticky interiors were expunged, the velvety fruit sliced open & seeds removed and the fruits deposited attractively in a steel bowl.
Some people love both the aroma & the taste of jackfruit - Shobha & her father fall in this category. Others like me are neutral to smell but like the taste of the ripe fruit. A third category like Guhan find both the smell & taste disgusting & nauseating - Guhan is very clear - its either he or the jack fruit, both cannot coexist in the same room - so make your choice !
The jackfruit tree bears fruits in the trunks or near the base of older branches from where the female flowers emerge in the first place. Given that jackfruit is the heaviest among the tree borne fruits, reaching up to 35 kg in weight, it is possible that the trees bear them in the trunk or older branches that are strong enough to hold the fruit.
Origin: The jackfruit is believed indigenous to the rain forests of the Western Ghats of India. It spread early on to other parts of India, Southeast Asia, the East Indies and ultimately the Philippines. It is often planted in central and eastern Africa and is fairly popular in Brazil and Surinam.
Jackfruit can be eaten unripe (young) or ripe, and cooked or uncooked. The seeds can also be eaten cooked or baked like beans. The leaves are sometimes used as a wrapping for steamed Idlis. Jackfruit is commonly known as "Pala Pazham" in Tamilnadu and "Plava or Chakka" in Kerala. The tree is found in almost every household in Kerala. (Family elders: Can you recollect the abundant "plavus" in the spacious compound around Lakshmi Nivas ?) A large variety of dishes are prepared with both the unripe as well as ripened fruit. Chakka Varaval, Chakka Mezhukku Varatti, Chakka Aviyal,Chakka Chips, Elisseri,Chakka Varatti (Jam), Chakka Pradaman(payasam or kheer) are some of the popular dishes served in Kerala weddings.
Tit Bit: Another innovative way of consuming this fruit - slice open the velvety fruit on one side, lift the flap, add a few teaspoons (or tablespoons if you wish) of honey, close the flap & drop the whole thing into your mouth golgappa (panipuri) stye. Its heavenly, simply melts in your mouth & slides smoothely down your gullet !

11 comments:

  1. Wow!! Jackfruit is my favourite.. I love palaakottai sambar and poriyal..mmmmm wow!!!

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  3. Jackfruit and it Reminiscence..... I do have a lot. When a bunch of my North Indian college mates, saw the jackfruit pieces sold on roadside and refused to buy it due to hygiene reasons, still wanted to taste it and insisted in buying the whole fruit and peeling themselves. I had a hearty laugh and explained, to peel it requires not just skill but expertise... It was then when I knew, eating jackfruit as a fruit was non existing in northern part of India. They always made gravy (Sabji) of raw jackfruit.

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  4. Very nice and informative post - in connection with this, do see my post
    http://rajirules.blogspot.com/2008/06/jackfruit-jam-labour-of-love.html

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  5. Thanks Raji. I read your blog Very detailed description with nice mouthwatering photographs

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  6. Here is what Natarajan said:
    Quote-At lakshmi Nivas, in our younger days, Manni (our grandmother) used to pluck the jackfruit from the two trees in the compound - one varikka chakkai and the other kuzha chakkai - at every season and make Chakka varatti from varikka chakkai and chips from Kuzha chakkai and send them to all her children whenever they come on vacation. In addition Chakka koottu and chakka appam ( from riped ones) are the othe delicacies Manni used to make from Kuzha chakkai during the season. Manni used to do all these chores by herself with lot of patience, especially choppping the Varikka chakkai and making into chakka varatti is a tedious job. Being in TVM & at Lakshmi Nivas during my school/college days, I was intimately associated with Manni during these activites and helping her in a small way. I sometimes used to eat stealthily the chips and the chakka varatti kept by manni in the store room.
    It was real fun in those days.
    Thanks Ramu for your blog on Jackfruit bringing back nostalgic memories.

    Love
    Natarajan - Unquote

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  7. Prabha said
    Quote - Hi...i very recently had the following chakkai varatti (varikkai chakkai) menus here in abu dhabi lovingly prepared by my mother in law.:
    1. chakka pradhaman
    2. chakkai elai adai

    Apart from that i had edi chakkai thovaran , chakkai madal kozhambu, chakkai chips during my last visit to trivandrum.

    Here in abu dhabi shop, we also tasted chakkai applam.

    So many varieties...every part of chakkai is judiciously used to make tasty delicacies.

    Love,
    Prabha

    Unquote

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  8. Hi Ram:)

    Greetings:)

    This is one of the most descriptive posts I have ever read on jack fruit.

    It is indeed quite a tedious affair to get the sweet flesh out but I think it is worth the effort provided someone else does it:):):) The sticky gum gets all over the hand and a lot of coconut oil is to be used to get rid of it.

    When I buy jack fruit I make it clear to the vendor that it he should get the flesh out at extra cost. These days no one wants to do this tough job and therefore I have not eater jack fruit for a very long time.

    In Chennai, I have seen jack fruit being sold in pieces.

    The smell of course is overpowering and there is no need for room freshner:)

    It is very interesting to read the various things to eat made out of jack fruit. I have tasted some of them but not all.

    I enjoyed reading the various information you have provided about the jack fruit. Many thanks for the informative post.

    Have a lovely day Ram:)
    Joseph

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  9. Thank you Joseph.Greetings to you too. Glad to note that you enjoyed reading the blog.
    The Edavapadi in Kerala has been erratic this year. This means no rain yet in the Siruvani catchment area which spells water scarcity for Coimbatore(thats where I live!)

    Regards Ram

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  10. I would like to buy the fruit but also go and buy viagra at once, thus saving me time.

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