The flavours of this spiky giant permeate our childhood memories, especially the summer holidays. Not always a pleasant one since an over-ripe Jackfruit is merciless. Jackfruit was plentiful in the estates surrounding the old homes and was also the pride in suburban compunds, providing shade and grace and prized fruits. Eaten in excess, Jackfruit seeds and unripe pods have a strong tendency to cause stomach pains, flatulence and diarrhea.
For people who grew up in the remnants of feudal Kerala, this fruit often offered sustenance, was often poached from estates, the ripe pecked-into-fruit, carefully salvaged and even the spiky rind scraped off to make a dish for a hungry family. Easily obtained from one's yard, it also sustained the pride of erstwhile landlords and crumbling estates.
The Chakka Kuru, Jackfruit seed was not considered an exalted dish and was often the 'vegetable dish' served to labourers alongwith Kanji/ Rice Gruel during the busy harvest season. Made in combination with the bitter gourd it was served 'inside' the home. However, the fruit preserve, Chakka Varatti, Jackfruit preserve which takes time, effort, expensive spices and clarified butter was a carefully preserved delicacy and highly prized for use in different sweetmeats. Stored in Chinese Porcelain jars, [also used for pickling] this was a seasonal effort that yeilded an exquisite product, used thruought the year.
A fresh jackfruit sold for $2.50 a pound and half of the fruit yeilded about 25 pods. Disbelief and snorts of outrage from assorted Aunts and Uncles who still live in Kerala, surrounded by plenty!
Fresh, firm and wonders, just ripe..... . The fruit was ripe so we could not cook it. The jackfruit seeds were cooked with a simple spice paste of shallots/ small red onions and dried red chillies, turmeric and salt. I have substituted powders in lieu of the paste.
A little more than 2 Cups of Jackfruit seeds, the thin, plastic-ky outer coat removed, red coating scrubbed as much as possible.
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 a small onion, chopped fine/5-6 small red onions chopped fine
2 tbsps coconut oil
Boil the jackfruit seeds with just enough water and salt.
Drain and keep aside
Heat the coconut oil in a pan
Saute the onions for 3-4 minutes
Add the jackfruit seeds, the turmeric powder and chilli powder
Saute for 3-5 minutes,
Add 1/4 cup of water and cook on medium heat until done.
For a more 'roasted' taste, add more coconut oil and pan the jackfruit seeds with the spices and onion, sprinkling water if it tends to stick.