Monday, 13 May 2013




All Indians with hardly any exception love to enjoy jackfruit. If it were available, most would gorge themselves all 365 days of the year. Alas! The jackfruit tree produces ripe jackfruit only during summer. Once the monsoon sets in, the ripe fruit pulp puffs up with excess water and loses its sweetness. Yet such is the appeal of jackfruit that nobody would want to waste it.

Since olden times, when food was scarce and the mouths to feed were a plenty, with the need to preserve food for filling hungry bellies during the lean monsoon months; a time when the rains never let up; the Konkani people developed good techniques to preserve food without the use of any chemical preservatives.

There was hardly a house without a few jackfruit trees in the compound. Jackfruit trees live for centuries and yield fruit generously every season. Many delicious dishes are prepared with fresh jackfruit in every stage of maturity.

Yet there is always more fruit than can be consumed. The Konkani people made good use of this abundance of nature by salting the raw jackfruit pulp. Jackfruit, when properly salted, will keep for 2 to 3 years in excellent condition and can be used all round the year.

Many industrious Konkani mothers who have their children living abroad, prepare salted jackfruit and take it with them while visiting their dear ones. Needless to say, it is a dream come true for the kids. While salting methods may differ from person to person, I would like to share with you my own method of salting raw jackfruit with which I could easily preserve it for more than 3 years.


For salting jackfruit, all you need is the pulp of a fully mature jackfruit, less than a kilo of powdered salt, a large vessel which will comfortably hold the pulp and of course a large, clean, dry, airtight food grade transparent polypropylene container to store the salted jackfruit. Detailed instructions on how to extract the edible pulp is given in my recipe No.255, i.e., Crispy Jackfruit Chips. The pulp can be preserved either whole or after it is cut into juliennes. It is better to preserve it in the julienne form as you don’t have to slice the pulp again when you prepare Salla Upkari (Salted Jackfruit Stir-fry). Moreover, when you preserve it in julienne form, it is also easier to desalt quickly.

If however, you are salting 4 or 5 jackfruits at a go, it is not possible to cut all the pulp to juliennes by yourself as it is quite tedious and time-consuming. In such cases, it is better to preserve the pulp whole. You can slice it later, before or after desalting for cooking.

To salt the jackfruit, grab a fistful of the juliennes or of the uncut pulp and spread it at the bottom of the vessel. Sprinkle a teaspoon (or if your fist is large, make it 1½ teaspoons) of powdered salt over the fruit. Continue the process, layer after layer, pressing down the fruit every now and then, till all the fruit is in the vessel. Sprinkle the final teaspoon of salt and cover with lid. Leave undisturbed overnight.

Next day, at any time of your convenience, open the lid. You will find that a lot of water has oozed out of the fruit. Wash and dry your hand. Take out a handful of the fruit and squeeze off as much water as you comfortably can. Now, gently put the fruit on one side of the bottom of the container. Likewise, squeeze more handfuls of fruit and place them tightly next to one another. As soon as one layer of tight fitting handfuls of fruit cover the bottom of the container, sprinkle another teaspoonful (or two teaspoonfuls if the container is an extra-wide one) of powdered salt. Continue with the fruit and then with the salt, pressing down with your palm, till all the fruit is in the container. Now sprinkle enough salt to cover the fruit lightly all over. Close the lid tight and store at room temperature in a cool, dark place. Refrigeration is not required. You need to wait for at least a month before you can take out some of the salted jackfruit.


Take out two or three fistfuls (with a clean dry hand) from the container (three fistfuls should suffice for four persons), rinse once in water and then soak overnight in a bowl of water. It is better to use water around 3 to 4 times the volume of the salted jackfruit; because much of the excess salt will leech out into the water. Next morning or afternoon, simply squeeze off the excess water handful by handful and your salted jackfruit is easily desalted and ready for use. If the desalted jackfruit is made of whole pulp pieces, you have to slice them lengthwise into juliennes. Now it is time to prepare yummy, chewy Salla Upkari.


     1)    Desalted salted jackfruit pulp – 2 to 3 handfuls
     2)    Coconut oil or any other cooking oil – 1½ tablespoons
     3)    Mustard seeds 1½ teaspoons
     4)    Dry hot red chilies – 2 or 3 nos.

To Cook:

To enjoy the full taste of traditional Konkani Salla Upkari, you need to stir-fry it in a cast iron wok. If not available, try to borrow one from your neighbour. If your neighbour does not have one, or won’t give you one, use any other wok or frying pan.

Break each dry red chili carefully into 2 or 3 pieces and set aside. Set the wok on high heat. Pour in the coconut oil and tip in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish crackling, throw in the broken red chilies. Stir twice or thrice and chuck in the desalted jackfruit juliennes. Stir well and cover with lid. Turn down the heat. Stir occasionally and fry for 8 to 10 minutes till the juliennes are nicely cooked and semi fried. Take care to cook with the lid covering the wok to ensure uniformity in cooking. Serve hot with rice or just enjoy this wonderful Salla Upkari by itself while watching T.V. You will bless me, I’m sure!



          It is usually unnecessary to add any salt, since the desalted jackfruit juliennes (Sàl in Konkani) contain enough residual salt.

Saturday, 11 May 2013




     1)    Shelled and peeled green cashew kernel (see procedure in my previous Bibbya Upkari recipe) – 400 gm.
     2)    Big coconut – ½ (or 1 small coconut)
     3)    Dry hot red chilies – 8 nos.
     4)    Coriander seeds – 1 tablespoon
     5)    Kudampuli (smoked Garcinia fruit) – 20 gm.
     6)    Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
     7)    Onion – 200 gm.
     8)    Coconut oil – 2 tablespoons
     9)    Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
     10)     Tender curry leaves – 1 sprig
     11)     Salt – 1¼ teaspoon

     To Cook:

Grate the coconut. Set a non-stick wok on high heat. Tip in the grated coconut, the chilies and the coriander seeds. Stir nicely. As the ingredients warm up, lower the heat and stir frequently till the coconut turns golden brown. Switch off the heat. Transfer to your food processor, pour in a glass of water and grind to super fine paste. Put the green cashew kernels into the curry vessel. Pour in enough water to submerge the cashews. Set the vessel on high heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and let it cook slowly.

Meanwhile, peel the onion and chop it finely. Check to see if the cashew kernels are cooked. As soon as they are cooked soft, add the salt, the curry paste, the turmeric powder and the kudampuli. Stir well. Turn up the heat. If the curry is too thick, add just enough water to bring it to a pourable consistency. As it comes to a boil, taste and add more salt if required. Switch off the heat and cover with a lid.

Set a small frying pan on low heat. Pour in the coconut oil and tip in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish crackling, tip in the chopped onion. Stir frequently till the onion turns golden brown. Now pull the curry leaves off the sprig and tip them in. Stir once, switch off the heat and pour the contents of the pan into the curry.

Stir nicely and cover with lid. Serve warm with rice, ghee rice, pathiris, chappatis, puris or with freshly baked bread.

Rice with Green Cashew Masala Curry, BibbyaUpkari, First Milk Pickle and Nendran Banana Chips

                     This highly nutritious curry is so fragrant, you are likely to have your neighbors come sniffing at your door.

Bon appétit!!!


     1)    If kudampuli is not available, you can use a little tamarind juice or 2 or 3 tomatoes, sliced or chopped in the curry
     2)    If you yearn to enjoy this recipe when green cashews are not in season or are not available in your part of the world, you can substitute them with regular shelled cashew nuts, but remember to precook them with water in a pressure cooker.




Most people relish roasted cashew nuts, but perhaps only few communities around the world are lucky enough to experience the marvelous taste of green cashew nuts. In the height of summer, just before the monsoon season, the cashew nut trees bloom and produce countless bunches of cashew fruits of different colours and sizes with a delicious cashew nut hanging beneath every single fruit. The cashew fruit is used to brew strong country liquor called fenny in the state of Goa while some of the farmers in Kerala and in Karnataka prepare a wine out of it which is subsequently distilled to form a liquor strong enough to knock out an elephant. The cashew fruit is also used to manufacture cashew candies.

         The cashew nuts are collected when the fruits ripen. Then go to large cashew factories where they are shelled, graded and packed for sale or for export. The cashew shells when heated yield a thick black tar-like oil which the local people use to coat wooden rafters and beams as an efficient organic termite repellant. This resin has also been used since ancient times by boat and ship builders to seal the joints of the wooden hulls to make them watertight.

         Cashew nuts contain antioxidants, essential minerals and vitamins. They are heart friendly and help resist cancer. However, patients suffering from piles should eat cashews only in moderation since overeating can heat up the body and aggravate piles.

         The Konkani people, during the cashew season, prepare delicious Bibbya Upkari at least once a year or more if they can afford it, since shelled green cashews are quite costly. It is generally a matter of prestige to a Konkani family to be able to serve Bibbya Upkari at a wedding feast or some other ceremony to hundreds of guests who anxiously await the arrival of the dish. So superb is the taste of Bibbya Upkari that gourmet or not, nobody can have enough of it. Green cashew kernels can also be used in stews, curries and in Valval. If you have a cashew tree in your compound, be sure to cook and enjoy this recipe.


If shelled green cashews are available, it is better to buy them. If not you can pluck them (see the bottom row in the picture) from your tree.

          You may need at least 100 to 200 nuts for a mid-size family. Cashew nuts turn grey and hard when they are fully mature. They need to be gathered when they are still green but not too soft or tender. This is to ensure that you receive a full grown kernel with a shell that is soft enough to cut into 2 halves. The outer shell contains an oily acid which can burn your skin and stain your clothes, so it is best to wear full sleeved discardable clothes or aprons. Use goggles and kitchen gloves or at least rub your hands with a little vegetable oil before you cut open the cashew nuts. Though you can use the cutting board and the chef knife, it is far better, safer and easier to simply use a rag or old towel folded several times.

          Hold the thickly folded towel in your left hand (if you are right handed), put a nut in the middle with the double curves facing upwards. Take a small, sharp knife in your right hand and press its cutting edge over the curves. Now press the blunt edge of the knife by folding the cloth over it with the fingers of your left hand and split the cashew nut into two equal halves.

Pry out the white kernel together with its inner skin and put it in a basin of water. Let soak overnight. The soaking helps you to remove with ease the thin inner shell or peel which is white on the outside and reddish brown on the inside.

This inner shell, like the outer one, is inedible and needs to be discarded. It is better to put back the clean white kernels in water as the water bath keeps them from browning due to oxidation.


     1)    Green cashew kernels (Bibbo in Konkani) – 400 gm.
     2)    Potatoes – 600 gm.
     3)    Tender ivy gourd (gentleman’s toes, Tendley in Konkani, Kovakka or Koval in Malayalam) – 400 gm.
     4)    Coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter) – 1½ tablespoons
     5)    Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
     6)    Dry red chilies – 6 to 8 nos (depending on the heat).
     7)    Salt – 1 teaspoon
     8)    Grated coconut (optional) - of ½ a coconut
     9)    Sugar (optional) – 1 teaspoon
     10)     Water – 300 ml.

To Cook:

          Wash the ivy gourd and cut them lengthwise into quarters. If too big, you can cut them into halves and then divide each half into 3 pieces. Take care to discard ripe ones (they are red inside) as they have a sour, rather unpalatable taste. Peel and wash the potatoes. Cut into juliennes roughly the same size as the gentleman’s toes. Drain the soaked cashew kernels and set aside.

          Break the dry red chilies each into 2 or 3 pieces. Set a cast-iron wok or a non-stick wok or a deep pan on high heat (Bibbya Upkari prepared in a cast iron wok tastes far better and is healthier too). Pour in the coconut oil and throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as they are about to finish popping, put in the broken chilies and stir once or twice. Now tip in the potatoes, the gentleman’s toes and the cashew nuts. Pour in the water and tip in the salt. Stir nicely and cover with lid. As soon as it comes to a boil, stir again and lower the flame. Let the upkari take its own time to cook beautifully on low heat. Stir once every few minutes to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. Once the potato is cooked, taste and add more salt if required. Once all the major ingredients are well cooked (they should be soft), remove the lid, turn up the heat, stir and vaporize any water remaining at the base. If you are a coconut lover, sprinkle the grated coconut and stir. Turn off the heat and serve hot with rice.


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