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.