Thursday, 16 February 2012



Dear viewers,

          There are dozens of delicious jackfruit recipes which I wish to share with you. Yet I find it hard to begin without saying a few things about the ‘best’ tree in the world, the way I see it.

          The jackfruit tree grows almost all over India, whether on the coastal belt or in the arid interior and even in the cool hills except for places of very high elevation. Strong and sturdy, it proudly weathers the elements for centuries. Its trunk grows to a diameter of over one meter if it escapes the axe of man’s need or greed for wood.

          The rich golden yellow wood is used for building houses and for making furniture and has beautiful grains and it turns dark brown with age. The jackfruit tree has thick, glossy, dark green foliage which helps reflect back much of the sunlight and helps fight global warming.

          The tree profusely sheds dry leaves, making the soil rich in humus and able to retain more moisture. Goats and sheep love to eat both the fresh green leaves as well as the ripe yellow leaves (which drop down every day) and produce rich milk of medicinal quality. Cows too eat jackfruit leaves which are cut down and wilted under the sun for a day.

          The jackfruit tree sends its roots deep down into the soil and stays fresh and green even in hot mid -summer. In fact, the jackfruit tree is one of the very few species of trees that drip tiny droplets of water from the leaves even at midday. These droplets are perceptible to the naked eye and create a natural air conditioning effect under the tree.

          The jackfruit tree, moreover, is full of positive pranic energy (life force) and is capable of refreshing tired and ill people who take rest under the tree, sitting or lying down close to the trunk.

          For spiritual aspirants, the base of the older tree is an excellent spot to sit for meditation or for japa (repetition of the name of god).

          For ordinary people, sitting under the tree helps relieve fatigue, stress and tension to a good extent (test and see for yourself !).

          Persons suffering from arthritis, rheumatism, gout, body pain and certain skin ailments are greatly benefited if they bathe in warm water in which the ripe, yellow jackfruit leaves have been boiled. It is widely believed that people eating plenty of jackfruit in season (including the cooked, fried or roasted seeds) have far fewer chances of developing cancer.

          Konkani people cook idlis and sannans in pouches made out of green jackfruit leaves stitched together with the ribs of coconut frond leaves which impart both flavor as well as natural medicine to the food.

          In olden times, the white milky resin which oozes out of the severed stem of the jackfruit was collected and used as gum. The wood was used right from the Vedic period for making homa (sacrificial fire) and is still in use today.

          Jackfruits come in numerous sizes, shapes, tastes, colours, textures and flavors. There are even gumless and seedless cultivars available at our nursery.

          Jackfruits are broadly divided into two chief categories : ‘Pazham’ and ‘Varikka’ (in Malayalam). Pazham Chakka (‘Chakka’ means jackfruit in Malayalam) has very soft, sweet, watery flesh on its fruit around the seeds with a lot of stringy fibre which feels like a ball of sugary, watery cotton in your mouth. Though some people who are experts in eating Pazham Chakka love to suck in this fruit, not everybody likes it owing to the difficulty in swallowing the strings.

          The other category is Varikka Chakka which has nice, sweet, succulent flesh and is easy to eat and tastier too. The fleshy portion of jackfruits, when ripe, comes in varying shades of white, cream, yellow and orange. Some of them ooze honey-like nectar when you bite into the flesh.

          Pazham Chakka however, is good for making jackfruit juice and jackfruit wine when ripe. Both categories are good to make several wonderful dishes when tender, when young and when mature.

          Jackfruit seeds are an excellent source of protein and are used to cook many delicious dishes. The ripe peel of the jackfruit is a highly favored food of cows and other cattle.

          The natural way of propagation is through seeds. However, owing to cross pollination, one can never be sure of getting a true–to–type cultivar. Seedling trees are good to grow for use as wood for furniture and are strong and grow straight and tall. While growing for harvesting fruits of good edible quality, it is better to propagate by grafting.

          Grafted jackfruit trees start yielding from the third year onwards in conducive circumstances. They also branch out nicely, are shorter and therefore more convenient to harvest the fruits.

          Tens of varieties of grafted jackfruit trees are available in India. If you live at a place with a warm climate (above 10° C) without the chances of frost, please do plant a jackfruit tree and help yourself by helping the environment.

          The jackfruit season is starting in India and I hope, God willing, to give you many delicious, yet simple and easy to make jackfruit recipes along with a lot of other recipes from time to time.

Girija Giridhar Kini

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