It’s the season of the fruit that I have a strained relationship with--jackfruit. Growing up, I was convinced the jackfruit tree in my grandparents' house held a grudge against me. Every year, I would excitedly call Dodda (my grandmother) to check if the jackfruit would ripen in time for my visit, and most often than not, there was a loving silence followed by a weak ‘maybe’. Since childhood, I have tasted the jackfruit from the decades-old tree just about thrice. The fruits either start ripening just as I bid goodbye to the place or hurriedly turn brown just weeks before my arrival. However, the few times that I tasted it, I have indulged in all its forms and flavours, from the sweetness of its slices to turning them into kadubus for the next morning--leaving me with delicious memories.
While raw jackfruit is now being discovered as a saviour for meat-lovers-turned-vegans, its thick and tender texture mimicking that of meat, the ripened jackfruit remains the crown of the fruit jewels in many areas of Karnataka and Kerala. The ripened jackfruit can be used to make idlis that are more a dessert than breakfast or turned into a more time-intensive halwa. For those of you who wish to cook with the fruit this season, here are some easy recipes to enjoy lingering bits of jackfruit joy.
During my childhood in my grandparents’ house, halasina (jackfruit in Kannada) kadubus always brought the family together; everyone sat at the dining table and helped each other with the process. Suddenly, mundane days would turn festive--this now remains a memory that feels like a warm hug. As time slips by, you realise how intricately some dishes are entangled with memories.
This one is simple to make. Grind soaked rice, ripe jackfruit pieces, coconut, jaggery and salt. Make it a thick batter, do not add any water. Put some batter on a banana leaf, wrap it up and steam it. Once done, enjoy them hot.
My mother would describe these as drops-of-happiness as she almost finished a plate of them. It’s one of those foods that is easy to make and easier to finish.
For this, grind the ripe jackfruit pieces with jaggery, and add salt, cardamom powder and grated coconut to this. Next, mix in some rice flour and keep this aside. After a few minutes, drop small amounts of the batter in hot oil and deep fry it until it turns brown on all sides.
Payasam is often associated with rice or sevai or dal, at least for me. Those made of anything else, such as makhana, needs a bit of adjusting, and I often end up maintaining a distance from such recipes. Last year, I discovered jackfruit payasam and have been pleasantly surprised. It’s neither a favourite, nor a write-off. If you are in the mood for trying something different with jackfruit this season, I would recommend this.
The ripe jackfruit slices are cut very small and cooked until mushy. Then they are mashed or pureed using a blender. While this is kept aside, grated jaggery and water are added to a pan and stirred until the jaggery dissolves and the mixture boils. Now, the dissolved jaggery is added to the pureed jackfruit and this mixture is cooked on low heat while continuously stirring. To this, add coconut milk and a little bit of water, as needed. Let it simmer and thicken. Add a little bit of cardamom and ginger powder in the end and mix. Take it off the fleme, add some dry fruits sauteed in ghee as garnish and enjoy.