Summer is here once again, and it has been uncomfortably warm for a while. As I always say, one of the few things that make Indian summers bearable is mangoes. The other thing is Jackfruit (or Chakka as it is known in Kerala) if you like it. I’m one who is not particularly enamoured with it. I do like a few things jackfruit though. Jackfruit crisps/ chips, Jackfruit jam with ghee and jaggery and Chakka Payasam – Indian Jackfruit Pudding.
Jackfruit, in my opinion, is a bit of an acquired taste. You will find that people love it or dislike it. There’s no grey area where Jackfruit is concerned. It is very popular in Kerala. Here it is eaten ripe and made into sweets or desserts. Raw Jackfruit is used to make crisp and slated chips. It is also cooked in a variety of local dishes as well. Prepping Jackfruit can be a rather involved process. If you’re lucky enough to find the arils already prepperd, then that’s a bonus.
In Kerala, the more popular Jackfruit Payasam is Chakka Pradhaman. A Pradhaman is a rich semi-liquid pudding. It is typically made with lentils (sometimes fruit like plantain or jackfruit) cooked with jaggery and coconut milk and flavoured with cardamom. Chakka Pradhaman is made with Jackfruit jam (chakkavaratti), jaggery and coconut milk. The Jackfruit Jam (chakkavaratti) is made using a lot of ghee. While it is delicious, it also makes the Chakka Pradhaman very rich.
This Chakka Payasam recipe also uses Jackfruit, jaggery and coconut milk. The Jackfruit here is not jam but the fruit which is chopped and cooked. Since there is very little ghee in this Chakka Payasam – Indian Jackfruit Pudding, it makes for a lighter preparation.
Coconut milk prepared fresh always makes the best Payasam. If you want to make your own coconut milk, grind 2 cups of fresh grated coconut with about a 1/4 cup slightly warm water as smoothly as possible. Squeeze with your hand and strain this through a strainer. This is the thick coconut milk or first milk. Grind the remaining solids with 1 cup warm water. Squeeze and strain as before. This is the thin or second coconut milk. Discard the remaining coconut solid.
It is always not practical or possible to make fresh coconut milk. So canned coconut milk or dehydrated coconut milk also works well. If you cannot find jaggery, you can use Mexican Piloncillo instead. Brown sugar does not really give you the same taste. You may try using Demerara sugar as a last resort. Adjust the amount of jaggery, if necessary, according to how sweet your Jackfruit is.