.Chakka is the Malayalam word for Jackfruit. Jackfruit is one of those things that most people either love or hate. It’s rare that you find people who are ambivalent about it. With age, I have turned from a Jackfruit hater to one who can live with it on rare occasions. I only like the fruit when it is at the just-beginning-to-ripen stage when it is slightly sweet and crisp in texture. Cooked, raw or ripe Jackfruit is a no-no though I do like deep fried chips or the traditional jam. Still, I do cook it for my husband and daughter who love the fruit. Here is a recipe for Chakka or Jackfruit Kootu Kari, if you’re like them.
I have always had really good neighbours wherever I have lived so far and I have moved houses quite a bit. Last week my next door neighbour came bearing a gift of Jackfruit. He brought us another on yesterday for which I have plans. In case, you were wondering, his sister has a couple of Jackfruit tress in her backyard which are yielding abundant fruit. I wasn’t thrilled to see the fruit but the rest of my family was in raptures. Summer is Jackfruit time here in Kerala, but with the present lock down situation in place we haven’t seen much of this season’s fruit. Here in Kerala, we cook quite a bit with raw young Jackfruit and also when more mature and ripe. When ripe, Jackfruit is naturally sweet and the tastes subtly of something between pineapple and banana.
I just discovered today that we have to thank the Portguese in Kerala for the name Jackfruit! The Malayalam word for the fruit is Chakka which the Portuguese pronounced as Jaca, hence Jaca fruit and Jackfruit. Did you know that Jackfruit arils are technically called achenes? I didn’t. Achenes contain a single seed that nearly fills the pericarp, but does not adhere to it. What is called a “seed” in many species is actually an achene, which has a seed in it. I know, I know, it’s just a bit of information that appeals to the science side of me.
The worst part of a Jackfruit is the cutting, cleaning and prepping of it. We had a reasonably large Jackfruit on hand. The husband took over the cutting and cleaning part of it, while the daughter and I harvested the achenes and deseeded them. It turned out that the Jackfruit has just started ripening. So it wasn’t raw at all but sweet and crisp, just the way I like it. We ate quite a bit of the fruit between the three of us over two days. I cooked the remainder of the fruit into Chakka or Jackfruit Kootu Kari, by popular demand.
I have a recipe for Chakka or Jackfruit Kari that I posted last year. This one is a little like recipe that in the way the Jackfruit is cooked. Yet this is different in taste, texture, the toasted coconut, red cow peas and the spices used. If you can’t find the red cow peas you can leave it out, then this becomes more like an Erisseri. The addition of red cow peas lends the dish hints of a nutty flavour and protein power. Oh, and please, cook this dish with coconut oil if you can find it. Nothing else does this recipe full justice.