I hear family and friends who live in Europe or the US talk about looking forward to the arrival of summer. Here in India, where I live, the summer is probably my least favourite part of the year. I look forward to summer’s bounty, especially mangoes watermelon and guava, but I could do without the heat that also comes along.
Summer’s bounty out here includes the Jackfruit which is something I don’t particularly right. That’s right. I’m the anomaly from Kerala who does not like Jackfruit (and raw plantain, elephant yam and other local tuberous and starchy vegetables). I love Jackfruit Chips/ Wafers and Chakkvaratti (Jackfruit Jam wih jaggery and ghee) but that’s how far I will go. To my mind, Jackfruit smells a little odd, is sticky and messy to clean and doesn’t taste all that great especially when raw. My husband doesn’t quite understand this dislike of mine for Jackfruit because he loves it, raw and ripe.
In some sort of cosmic vengeance, we have been inundated with Jackfruit this past couple of months, all gifts from very well meaning family and neighbours. The latest was a huge slice of a really large specimen of Jackfruit. This one turned to be at a stage where it was no longer raw and just beginning to ripen. A stage we refer to in my mother tongue as “Chenechathu”, where the fruit has just a hint of sweetness. The fruit pods must be firm, a pale yellow and crunchy to eat.
Since I don’t like Jackfruit very much, I avoid eating it whenever I can. For this reason I have to confess to ignorance about traditional recipes that cook with the raw fruit. I do know we make Thoran (a stir-fry style preparation with coconut) and Erisseri (this one uses a spicy coconut paste and also toasted coconut).
My husband and I were talking about this and he mentioned a Chakka Curry that his mother used to make, especially with Jackfruit that has just started ripening. I also remembered something similar in Ammini Ramamchandran’s Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts. I found her Chakka Madhura Curry (Sweet Jackfruit Curry) was something similar, though it uses fully ripened fruit. My version of Chakka Curry is a mildly sweet preparation of just ripening jackfruit cooked in a coconut gravy spiced with cumin and dried ginger.
Of course, there are different versions of this recipe. This particular recipe (and Ammini’s recipe), uses an unusual combination of cumin and dry ginger. Others use only cumin. As I mentioned earlier, some use fully ripe Jackfruit. Some recipes don’t do a tempering or “tadka” like I do and just finish the dish off with a drizzle of coconut oil. Some use chillies in the coconut paste or chilli powder while cooking the Jackfruit for a little bit of fire, but I let the ginger alone do its thing in my Chakka Curry.
Chakka Curry - Mildly Sweet Jackfruit In A Cumin & Ginger Coconut Sauce
- 3 cups deseeded and diced slightly ripe jackfruit (cut into 3/4" pieces)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 1/4 cups freshly grated coconut
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp powdered jaggery
- 1 tsp powdered dry ginger (chukku/ sonth)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 1/2 gram tsp blacklentils (urad dal)
- 2 dried red chillies
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- Put the diced jackfruit in a pan with just enough water to cover it. Add turmeric powder and salt to taste and stir. Bring it to boil, and then let it simmer for about 10 minutes or so until just cooked.
- In the meanwhile, grind together the coconut and the cumin seeds, with a little water into a somewhat thick and fine paste.
- Stir in this paste, powdered jaggery and the powdered dry ginger into the cooked jackfruit pieces. Let this simmer for about 5 minutes and it should be done. You should have a thick gravy curry. Transfer this to a serving dish.
- In a tempering pan or very small pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and when the splutter, add the lentils. Stir till they start to turn golden brown and then add the broken red chillies. Stir a couple of times, then throw in the curry leaves and take it off the heat. Immediately pour it into the Chakka Curry.
- Cover the dish and let it sit for about 15 minutes for the flavours to develop. Then gently mix everything together and serve warm on the side with rice and Sambar or Rasam.