Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Introspecting Jackfruit

Introspection, in the computing world is the process of identifying objects, its properties and behaviors at runtime.

Jackfruit, known fondly as “chakka” and so is one of my nick names in school, is a native of Kerala. It is large, heavy and spiny with green exterior and bulbous fruit surrounded by sticky fibers inside. It grows in enormous numbers and is usually seen hanging on trees that are tall and lanky. One is usually turned away by its intoxicating fragrance –nevertheless, the golden flesh with a honey flavor can transform you to a fervent follower. You can eat the fruit ripe/unripe, cooked / uncooked. Although I wouldn’t recommend the unripe form of the fruit as it is not known to be a buddy of our gastrointestinal systems. To me, jackfruit is THE FRUIT of Kerala.

For city dwellers like us, this fruit is hard to come by. Usually we receive it as gifts and tokens of love from my father’s ancestral home. Unlike all others, the pre-processing of this fruit before one starts preparing the dish can be an arduous task. However you wouldn’t believe the fun we had while cleaning it, as a family circle time. Our jobs were to keep an eye on the cleaned fruit bites from the rest of the world. I still remember the juicy details of many stories explored in this circle, with our hands smeared in oil, patiently slicing it down, removing every bit of fibers, revealing the sweetest sensation. By the time, we have conquered every piece of the fruit; we were overwhelmed by its fragrance. The first two days in our home of that following week are enjoyable. We can smell the prepared dishes, a mile from our home. By the third day, we hit a frenetic eating pace of the fruit to avoid being used in every meal of the day.

Recently, I received a care package from my home, traveling thousands of miles. On opening it, to my surprise, I found one of my all time favorite preparations of Jackfruit – “Chakka Varatti (Jackfruit Halwa)”, a combination of ripe Jackfruit, jaggery and loads and loads of ghee. It has been ages since I last savored the taste of it. Now here comes the interesting behind the scenes tidbit: My dad, who is not a firm believer of ‘use it and throw’ concept or that each and everything has a finite life, decided to get his old and outdated cell phone repaired. He sought help of a ‘Mr. Fix it’, who claimed to have repaired many such outdated devices. Long forgotten, after being handled by many of Mr.Fix it’s apprentices, my dad realized that the phone was missing . However by the end of the day, he received a heavy package, a gift, which was not a cell phone but a Jackfruit. Ironically he does not share the same kind of passion for jackfruits. I am not sure what happened to cell phone or Mr. Fix it!! But the jackfruit is cooked to perfection as a fantastic sweet dish and is waiting on my table. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

I wish I could share my package with each one of you. It is tucked into the corner of my refrigerator as my night treat till my father finds another one of his repair ideas!

Simplistically Yours,

Chakka-Varatti (Jackfruit halwa) (My Mom's recipe)
What to get:
Jackfruit finely chopped - 4 cups
Jaggery - 1 cup
water - 1/2 cup

What to do:
Steam the chopped fruit in a pressure cooker with a small amount of water. Cook jaggery and water in heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat until the jaggery is melted completely. Remove from heat.

Heat a large and heavy bottom pan to medium high heat. Add the steamed fruit, jaggery and saute it till it becomes golden brown. Keep stirring to avoid any lumps. Stir in ghee and continue cooking it until the fruit breaks down , water is evaporated and the halwa thickens. Stir constantly. Remove the pan from heat, when the halwa start seperating from the edges of the pan. Serve hot/cold. I prefer it cold!

Therali appam

My mom usually makes this dish in a special kind of leaf. Needless to mention, the unavailability of Therali leaves (I beleive it is the leaves of cinnamon tree), has driven me to prepare this dish using parchment paper. So here is my entry for JFI – Jackfruit hosted by JugalBandi, a secondary dish, prepared with the help of my mom’s “chakka-vartti”.

What you need:
Chakka Varatti (halwa) – 1 cup
Rice Flour – 1 cup
Milk – 2 tbsp (if needed)
Coconut grated - 1 cup
Cardamom powder – 2 tsp
Parchment paper

What to do:
Combine flour, halwa, milk, coconut, cardamom powder and knead to a dough.
Divide the dough into 6 portions and mold them into balls (1 inch size). Finely coat the parchment paper with ghee. Divide the parchment paper into equal sized rectangles about twice the size of the balls. Place each of the balls in between the rectangles and flatten it with your hands. Steam it in an idli cooker or a steamer for about 15 minutes. Abracadabra, you got an enjoyable snack from home. Enjoy!

C & J sandwich (Cream Cheese and Jackfruit sandwich)

How about a PB&J sandwich with jackfruit? Another one of my
JFI- Jackfruit entries.

What You need:
Low fat Philadelphia cream cheese / Neufchatel cheese softened
Oroweat Country Buttermilk Bread slices – 2 nos

What to do:
Spread one side of each bread slices with butter. Heat a non stick pan to medium high heat. Place the bread slices , buttered side down and cook to golden brown. Microwave the halwa on high for about 15 – 20 seconds. Spread a generous amount of cream cheese on the other side (not buttered) of one of the bread slices. Similarly spread halwa on the second slice. Carefully assemble the sandwich. Enjoy!


bee said...

nimmy, what a great little blog you have. love your writing style. 'chakka' was your nickname? that's funny.

have added you to the blogroll.

thanks for your entries to JFI.

Green Chillies said...

Thanx bee!

Sumitha said...

Hmm....what should I call you green chilly or Nimmy?So good to find another blog,A very warm welcome to you into the food blogosphere.

I had thought about therali appam too,but there was absolutely no way I could get those leaves here.Glad that you posted the recipe.Really,that leaf is so essential to impart its aroma and what a heavenly aroma too.

Sharmi said...

hey Nimmy, came here from JFI, looking at your lovely entry and beautiful picture of your sandwich. very nice one. will keep visiting.

Green Chillies said...

Thank you sumita for the warm welcome. I do wish I had the therali leaves with me. It does add a distinctive flavor to the dish, something unbeatable. However, I tried to recreate the memories of this dish with the minimal supplies I had.

Green Chillies said...

Thank you sharmi for visiting my blog. Do drop in!

Asha said...

Wow!! Look at that list of dishes with JF. I thought I had more!:))
Great recipes ,thanks.

Mandira said...

the cream cheese and jackfruit sandwich looks absolutely delicious! you have a wonderful collection of recipes. I'm sure to be a regular.

Anderson said...

This does sound delicious with all those lovely. Therali appam and cream cheese and jackfruit sandwich looks so delicious and Yummy!! Thanks so much for recipes sharing.