Jackfruit!! A uniquely flavorful and juicy fruit, with roots in tropical south western regions of India, has a very special place in the southern Indian cuisine. A very rough and thorny exterior of the fruit is not particularly inviting, the messy process of removing the edible fruit flesh from rest of the capsule can be even more intimidating. But, just a few steps away there are big rewards in store!
The golden yellow fruit flesh yields itself to many delectable dishes from it’s native regions, both as a young raw flesh as well as fully ripened fruit. The seasonal fruit which typically harvests in summer, making it once a year treat, is dearly welcomed and treated with much love by putting almost every part of it to use, including the seeds.
For many having roots in southern Indian costal regions, jackfruit perhaps is reminiscent of a season. It is for me, a reminder of glorious summer days of my childhood, the sultry sweaty air filled with the thick fragrance of mangos, jackfruits and a variety of once a year delicacies made from them. Jackfruit particularly taking many different shapes and tastes with just a slight change in it’s treatment.
Let’s take a look at three completely different Jackfruit dishes that comes out of same simple 5 ingredients and just a tad bit different treatment. These dishes are grandmas summer kitchen regulars in coastal Karnataka, a southern Indian state, that perhaps has been passed along many generations, recreated in an american kitchen!
Jackfruit Triple Role
Fully ripened Jackfruit – 2 cups
White rice or cream of rice – 2 cups
Jaggery (unrefined cane sugar) crushed – 1 cup (2 cups if you like it sweet)
Grated fresh coconut – 1/2 cup
Powdered nutmeg – A pinch
Oil to fry
Salt to taste
The core of these dishes is the batter made out of the first 4 of the above ingredients, which then is cooked using three different processes – steam, grill and fry – result is the complete metamorphosis of flavorful Jackfruit into three mouthwatering delicacies.
Prepare the batter
If using rice, soak the rice for 2-3 hours in water and drain the water before blending. Add Jackfruit, drained rice, jaggery, coconut and salt in a blender and blend it to a slightly granular paste.
If using cream of rice, which is granulated rice, there is no need to soak it or grind it. It should be washed well and ground Jackfruit, jaggery & coconut paste should be added and mixed well to get the same batter above.
Role 1 – Suttevu/Mulka – Deep fried dough.
The first dish is the rich and delightfully chewy balls that is the result of deep frying of this batter, natively known as “Suttevu” or “Mulka”.
To achieve this, Take a few cups of any oil suitable for frying, sufficient quantity to completely soak the balls & heat it over medium heat for 5-8 mins.
Once the oil is hot, using either hand or table spoon, take the batter and make a ball of about half a golf ball size and slowly drop it into the hot oil. Since this is a slightly thick and sticky batter, it cannot be made into perfect round balls, they can be of irregular shapes, no worries. Fry the batter balls for roughly 4-5 mins constantly turning sides till they are dark brown in color.
Role 2 – Kadubu – Grill baby grill!
The second dish is what is natively known as “Kadubu” is the result of grilling the batter on a flat pan (not a grill). But, the twist in the taste comes from the wrapper, plantain leaves!
Cut the green plantain leaves into 5-6 inches wide rectangles and lightly spray the green surface with oil or clarified butter.
Evenly spread the Jackfruit batter on the leaves to about 1/2 an inch thickness.
Fold the leaves at the center and place it on a hot pan and roast till the plantain leaves turn dark and you can see the surface of the batter getting golden brown spots. Keep turning the leaves to cook both sides, you can keep the pan closed with lids in between.
Role 3 – Jackfruit Idli – Steamed cake
The third role of this batter is steamed version called “Idli”. Idli’s are staples South Indian breakfasts, but, often made from concoction of rice & lentil mixture ground and fermented overnight. The regular Idli’s are usually bland in taste except for the slight sour tinge from the fermentation and are often consumed with sides such as coconut chutney. Jackfruit Idli is more of a dessert & can be consumed by itself or with an extra topping of clarified butter.
This dish gets an additional lift in the taste with a tinge of grated nutmeg. To the batter, sprinkle half a spoon of nutmeg and mix it well. The batter can be steamed in either a pressure cooker or in a electric steamer. Either way, lightly spray the pan with either oil or clarified butter & steam it until cooked, time of which depends on the tool used. In pressure cooker it takes about 15-20 mins, in steamer it might take up to an hour. Try inserting a kitchen knife to check if it comes out clean to decide if it needs more time to cook. Once cooked, let it cool for sometime and then cut it into squares.
All the above three dishes are desserts and often savored with a spoon of warm clarified butter. They stay fine and tasty for 2-3 days when refrigerated and often tastier after a day has passed. These are some of the rare gems of the southern Indian native cuisines that are specific to the coastal region, often not known to other regions nor available in the mainstream food spots and rarely cooked in the modern Indian kitchens.
That brings us to a short stop to the flavorful journey with Jackfruit. The exotic journey of Jackfruit dishes continues with many more delectable dishes that are made from very few simple ingredients and various interesting treatments. Watch out this site for more!
A thing or two about ingredients
Where to find the ingredients?
Jackfruit – Chinese super markets are the best spots to find some good quality Jackfruits, both whole fruit and cut ones. Indian stores carries them as well but not as much quantity and frequency as Chinese stores. A fully ripened Jackfruit can be identified with it’s strong fragrance few meters from the section.
Jaggery – This is unrefined sugar cane juice often used in Indian cuisines & is available in cubes of different sizes in Indian grocery stores. This iron rich ingredient is healthier than refined white sugar and gives a very different caramelized taste to desserts.
Nutmeg – Available in spice sections of many super markets
Grated fresh coconut - Available in frozen sections of Indian & Chinese grocery stores.