Mangoes in India are always associated with summers and for good reason. One other fruit that is a summer favourite in Kerala is the Jackfruit or Chakka. We cook the unripe fruit in multiple ways, including as sundried pappads/ Chakka Pappadam. The ripe fruit is mostly eaten as it is or cooked and preserved as Chakkavaratti or Jackfruit Jam. Chakkavaratti is a halwa-like jam made with cooked and pureed fruit, jaggery, ghee, a hint of cardamom and sometimes a bit of dried ginger. It is not the prettiest brown coloured mass out there, but it more than makes up in flavour and taste.
Semi-ripe Jackfruit is cooked into stir-fries or a coconut milk pudding with jaggery called Payasam. The name Chakkavaratti comes from Chakka meaning Jackfruit, and Varatti meaning that which has been pan fried or cooked. Chakkavaratti or Jackfruit Jam is not used as a spread on condiment as in the West. We use it to make other sweets like Chakka Pradhaman, Elai Adai or Kumbilappam. It can also be eaten as accompaniment to Adai, an unfermented rice and lentil pancake. I ‘m not a fan of Jackfruit, cooked or as a fruit, but I absolutely love Chakkavaratti or Jackfruit Jam.
Making Chakkavaratti or Jackfruit Jam is hard work like a lot of good things, but absolutely worth the effort as far as I’m concerned. First you have to cut the jackfruit and prep the jackfruit. Then the deseeded fruit is steam cooked till soft. It is cooled and pureed before cooking it down. This will leave you with a bit of an upper arm work out. Once cooked, it will keep up to a year at room temperature.
In Kerala, we generally tend to describe Jackfruit as either Varikka Chakka or Koozha Chakka. While both are good, the latter tends to be more fibrous and is not good for making Chakkavaratti. So you need to use a less fibrous and also reasonably ripe Jackfruit for this Jam. Traditionally, this Jam is made in an Uruli, a heavy wide mouthed brass pot. Any heavy walled pot will do. I use the pan of my pressure cooker.
Typically, the measurement ratio of Jackfruit puree to jaggery for making Chakkavaratti is 1:1. This however depends entirely on how sweet the Jackfruit you have is. If your Jackfruit is very sweet as mine was, I would use about 1 measure of Jackfruit puree to 2/3rd or 3/4th powdered jaggery. Chakkavaratti is always very mildly flavoured with cardamom. You should just get a hint of the flavour. The use of powdered dried ginger is also the same, but optional. I personally like using it.
Chakkavaratti or Jackfruit Jam
- 1/2 medium sized jackfruit
- 1 1/2 cups powdered jaggery more or less
- 1/3 cup ghee
- 4 to 5 pods cardamom powdered
- 1 1/2 tsp powdered dry ginger optional
Prepping the Jackfruit :
- First lightly coat both your palms inside and outside and your knife, with coconut oil. This prevents the sticky Jackfruit sap from sticking to them and making the Jackfruit easy to clean. Cut the jackfruit and remove the fruit bulbs. Deseed them.
Making the Jam :
- Pressure cook or steam cook the deseeded fruit without adding any water. Let the cooked Jackfruit cool down. Run in a blender or food processor to puree till smooth, without any lumps. Keep aside.
- Put the powdered jaggery in a heavy walled pan/ pot and add about 1/3rd cup water. Heat it and stir to dissolve the jaggery completely. Do not make a syrup. Strain out the impurities in the dissolved jaggery, if any and return the liquid to the pot.
- Add the pureed Jackfruit and stir well till smooth. Cook this mixture on a medium heat, stirring frequently till the mixture thickens quite a bit, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn. This process will take over an hour and is a bit laborious. You can do this process with pauses in between. You can turn off the heat and then come back to it after an hour if you choose and keep taking similar breaks in between if you need it. Otherwise pull in the elder members of your family to lend a hand (pun intended). My husband and I took turns while make this batch.
- Once the mixture is quite thick, add about 1/3rd of the ghee and stir till it absorbed. Repeat with all the ghee. Keep stirring until very thick and the mixture starts leaving the sides of the pan/ pot and rolls away to the centre.
- At this point stir in both the powdered cardamom and dried ginger powder if you’re using it. Let it cool completely. Then transfer to airtight containers. Pour a thin layer of melted ghee on the top, if storing at room temperature in a cool place. Otherwise, refrigerate it as it is, without adding the ghee, until further use.