Jackfruit is known as the wonder fruit because of it’s numerous uses and benefits. Jackfruit was once, the staple food of Coorg, when paddy was not sufficient for consumption. Jackfruit trees are commonly seen in Coorg, to provide shade to cardamom or black pepper. The coffee plantations, bordering forest areas face the problem of elephant menace due to their fondness for the fruit. In order to avoid the menace of animals, many farmers started removing immature fruits and throwing them, leading to wastage. Due to this, the department of agriculture in Bangalore has initiated ‘Jackruit Mela’ to bring together all the farmers and build awareness.
In Kerala, no fertilizer is applied and it also has the potential to be identified as one of the promising fruits grown organically. Although there is large number of indigenous varieties of the fruit grown in the state, systematic documentation regarding the varieties is yet to be done.
The various uses of the fruit is achieved by harvesting at different stages of maturity and converting them into various products like chips, burfee, candies, bars, halwa, peda, papads and so on. The pulp is used to flavour ice-cream and drinks or can be canned and used when not in season. The seeds can be eaten boiled, or added in curries or pulav. In south, jackfruit kebabs are made out of young or not ripe fruit which tastes like chicken and is a good substitute for non-meat eaters. Jackfruit’s wood is used to make music instruments like veena and drums mridangam. It is widely used in furniture, door and window construction and commonly used for roof construction in Coorg.
Jackfruit can be a difficult fruit to deal with and thus sometimes is neglected. The best way to deal with the fruit is to oil your hands and knife before cutting. My personal favourite combination is jackfruit and jaggery. It is not only healthy but has a rustic taste. Jackfruit kheer or payasam is commonly prepared in Kerala, known as Chakka pradhaman. The dish is traditionally prepared in an ‘urli’.
Ingredients for kheer or payasam:
8-10 pieces jackfruit, de-seeded, chopped and washed
1/2 cup jaggery
milk or coconut milk or coconut cream
a pinch of cardamon powder
1tbs mixed cashew & raisins
1tsp ghee for roasting nuts
Pressure cook the jackfruit. Once cool, grind the boiled fruit to achieve a fine pulp.
Heat the pulp with jaggery on medium flame.
Bring it to a boil. Add milk and bring it to a light boil.
Turn off the stove and flavour it with cardamon and garnished with some dried nuts.
Serve hot or cold. I personally prefer it cold or chilled. Serves 4.