The lockdown has coincided with the jackfruit season in Kerala, where every other day, social media is filled with jackfruit dishes.

A dish made with jackfruit Kerala most favourite fruit A jackfruit dish
news Coronavirus Thursday, May 07, 2020 - 19:31
Jackfruit seed shake, jack finger (ground and fried jackfruit seed), jackfruit soup, jackfruit halwa, jackfruit vada, jackfruit cutlet, jackfruit fried rice— the list is endless. Many Keralites have channeled their creative juices during the lockdown to invent new jackfruit-based recipes, a break from the usual chakka puzhukku, the boiled jackfruit dish.

Jackfruit specialties are perhaps the most trending cuisine on social media in the state during the lockdown. Recipes, pictures, information on availability, online sale of jackfruit, etc are being shared all across social media groups. 

When lockdown began in Kerala in the last week of March, there was a fear that people would face a scarcity of essential things. There was a call to minimise the use of non-essential items and depend as much as possible on home-grown items. The government encouraged citizens to grow kitchen gardens. 

However, the lockdown has coincided with the jackfruit season in Kerala, where every other day the social media is filled with jackfruit dishes. There are even memes of Keralites’ obsession with the giant, tasty and juicy fruit. 

In March 2018, jackfruit was declared the official fruit of Kerala. As per data from the Department of Economics and Statistics, Government of Kerala, in 2016-2017, jackfruit was grown across 91,982 hectares where 281 million tonnes of the fruits are produced. 

“During lockdown, people got enough time to spend at home, so time consumption for the preparation of jackfruit was not an issue. In their backyard, most of them will have a jackfruit tree and coconut trees, so it's easily available. That is when the experiments with the fruit began. With social media, the recipes of such dishes got a wide publicity,” said Manoj Raveendran, a popular Kerala-based blogger and an engineer. He is a huge jackfruit lover who goes on long journeys in search of good jackfruits. 

Chakka varatti (jackfruit cooked with jaggery), chakka puzhukku (raw jackfruit boiled), chakka kuru upperi (jackfruit seed side dish) and chakka varuthathu (jackfruit fries) are few traditional jackfruit dishes Keralites are fond of. Apart from this, a wide variety of new dishes were discovered this lockdown season. 

Jerome George, a businessman from Kozhikode and a vlogger, has successfully introduced shawarma, momos and pie from jackfruit. 

“We wanted to do something different these days. Jackfruit was easily available in our backyard so we tried different dishes. Shawarma using them was a great success. Even a restaurant from Thiruvananthapuram contacted me asking whether they can brand the dish," Jerome said.

Jerome said jackfruit juice is a great combination with shawarma. He introduced his jackfruit dishes successfully at online iftar meetings with friends. He said that people readily accepted the jackfruit dishes posted on social media.

“Except the spinal outer skin, every part of the fruit can be made use of. Pakavadas made of seed cover and rags are tasty,” Manoj said.

He said that many have invented techniques to easily cut jackfruit as it seems to be a herculean task for some.

“People have started using the coconut dehusking machine to cut jackfruit. It is a wonderful innovation,” he said.

He added that he has preserved jackfruit for around six months to use them during the off season. “You can keep them in the freezer in zip covers and it can be preserved for five or six months,” he said.

Aveni, a college student from Kannur, has made pudding, ice cream and smoothies using jackfruit.

“Earlier, fruits were not available in our village, only essentials. But there were plenty of mangoes and jackfruit in our farm lands. We tried all our favourites using them. Usually, in previous years, many jackfruit just fell off the tree and went unused. But this time, my brother and I haven't spared any of them,” she said.

Manoj exclaimed that the biggest fruit is an ‘emotion’ in Kerala.


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