Jackfruit, chakka we call it, is a popular big fruit in Kerala. Along with Kappa (Tapioka or Kasava) it has been a staple food for the common man in Kerala.
Both are seasonal, jackfruit more so. While kappa is a single crop or one life cycle plant, some of the jackfruit trees are older than me.
Biggest of all fruits and very tasty the fruits have a very strong and distinct aroma. Like all good things, it’s not easy to eat the jackfruit. The eatable part is well secured with an outer cover with small and mildly sharp thorns. The numerous yellow fruits inside are protected again with a very sticky substance which on contact will stay with you till an old timer tells you to apply kerosene to remove it.
When small we used to put the sticky substance along with some bird food to catch birds alive.
Jackfruit in season could suggest sign of affluence in Kerala. I remember a branch of a big tree in our land giving in with the weight of the 16 or so fruits and landing on the river side. Three days passed and nobody bothered to take any of them and had to be removed so that the river is not polluted.
Jackfruit like coconut has many uses. The fruits for deserts, raw one steamed/ cooked as breakfast or evening tea time, still young ones for the Kerala thoran (Side dish for rice and prepared with grated coconut), leaves for some Ayurveda treatment particularly for rheumatic pain etc etc.
And if you ever cut down a jackfruit tree, the solid wood has many many uses like for furniture, house building etc
And remember, inside the sweet fruit the seed is a delicious item taken just roasted or used in cooking in several ways.
And now jackfruit is a health food. The raw one cooked in Kerala style called puzhukk actually reverses diabetes. And you know what!!
But the reason for my excitement today is that I saw a recipe published in Malayalam newspaper by a relation. She has given the recipe for chakka unda (jackfruit balls) which is one of the many uses with the fruit and if I try to write on them, all of which will take a day to pen.
Chakka unda lasts over a year. And it’s lovely. You know what!! I am going to make it this Friday in Kuwait.
Watch this space…….