Mezhukkupuratti is a dry pan fried vegetable preparation from Kerala. Mezhukku in Malayalam refers to cooking fat, coconut oil in this case, and Puratti means coated in. As the name suggests it means the vegetable concerned is pan cooked/ roasted. Today’s post is Chakkakuru Mezhukkupuratti, pan cooked/ roasted jackfruit seeds.
Mezhukkupuratti is slow cooked in coconut oil and minimal spices, so the flavour of the vegetable and coconut oil shines through. Vegetables that take longer to cook are usually steam or pressure cooked first before they’re pan cooked/ roasted. Others are cooked as they are in the pan but with a couple of splashes of water. South Indians generally like their vegetables cooked soft.
Mezhukkupuratti is generally made with less wet vegetables like raw plantain (vazhakkai), bittergourd or melon (parikkai), yard long beans (payar/ achingya), elephant yam (chena/ suran), eggplant or aubergine (vazhuthana), okra (vendakka), colocasia (chembu), jackfruit seeds (chakkakuru), potatoes (urulakizhangu), etc.
Chakkakuru or jackfruit seeds are found in the ripe bulbs of the jackfruit. We remove them and keep them aside while prepping the fruit. The seeds air well at room temperature in the hot summer and keep well for a while. We do cook exclusively with jackfruit seeds but more often we use them in combination with other vegetables. So we tend to drop a few in dishes like Sambhar, Avial, Kootu, Erisseri and other vegetable Mezhukupuratti as well.
Once they are dry, the outermost creamy white skin comes loose which is peeled off. The somewhat hard seed inside has the hardness and texture similar to a raw mango. It has a thin brown outer skin and is creamy white inside. Traditionally we use a hard round stone held in the palm, or some similar implement, to lightly smash or break the seeds. By this I mean that the seed is just crushed slightly. It should be just cracked/ broken into a couple of pieces but not mashed or crushed.
This ensures that the jackfruit seeds cook well. You can then cook them in water on the stove top till soft. We tend to cook them in the pressure cooker. The cooked vegetable is then pan cooked/ roasted with coconut oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and a pinch of asafoetida. Starchier vegetables are often cooked a little longer till slightly crisp. That’s it.
Mezhukkupuratti goes very well on the side with rice, sambhar, rasam or pulisseri/ kalan, and pappadums. Do not, as always, there are as many ways of cooking a Mezhukkupuratti as there are people making it. The recipe below is how I have learned to make it from my elders. You can replace coconut oil with any other oil of choice, if you prefer. However, only coconut oil creates the authentic taste of a Mezhukkupuratti.