Monday, 13 May 2013

270) SALLA UPKARI


SALLA UPKARI
A TRADITIONAL KONKANI SALTED JACKFRUIT STIR-FRY


Introduction:

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.

Salting:

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.

Desalting:

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.


Ingredients:

     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!

Enjoy!!!

Note:

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

1 comment:

  1. I am loving Jackfruit Stir-fry. It is so delicious and yummy. I am curious to prepare Salla Upkari as it is one of the famed Indian Food Recepies and acknowledge by many.

    ReplyDelete

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