The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear about Jackfruit is a moment of nostalgia, or I glance back to my childhood, the day when Jackfruit preparations when a common sight at my home kitchen. Around seventy years back when my grandfather got into the hills of Idukki to settle down here and start agriculture, it was the Jackfruits and Tapioca that was all there to eat. I still remember him telling us about the distinct goodness of this wonder fruit.
Jack fruit trees were everywhere in Idukki; it was never a rare tree. Since it was abundantly available, we never cared about this fruit or the goodness of it. It always like that, you never know the value of something that you already have. During one of my journeys through Tamil Nadu, I got to notice that Jack fruits from Kerala were sold at a higher price, and all of them were sold like hot cakes, it made me think and wonder about how blessed is our land and Kerala is literally Gods own country.
Cardamom is the principal cash crop for the planters of Idukki. Since the cardamom plant required a lot of shade, we used to plant a lot of Jack fruit trees in between the cardamom plants. As Jackfruit season approaches, we used to pluck all these or used to give the contract to local men to pluck the fruits as it might get ripe and fall on these cardamom plants which were considered to be precious than Jackfruits. It was these fruits that were taken to Tamil Nadu and sold.
Jackfruit preparations are umpteen; homemakers of Idukki are in fact experts in Jackfruit and Tapioca Preparations. Let me tell you it is really mouthwatering dishes you know. Especially the ones cooked before the fruit gets ripe, more than the unripe fruit preparation, it is the excellent combinations of the accompaniments that make it Waah!! It’s mostly used as a savory with spicy accompaniments and Indian curries. You would not find such an awesome ingredient for the preparation of small eats and snacks. One ripe, it’s a sweet fruit, eaten raw, Jackfruit jams are very popular than you can imagine.
The most interesting part is that the fruit offers something much more than we all imagine. This incredible source of antioxidant acts as anti-aging optimizes immune systems, instant source of high energy, the rich source of potassium that regulates blood pressure, good for Asthma, immune against colon cancer, helps digestion and prevents from piles. 😮 😐 Sorry, I did not know all these, if I had known it, all of it would have been part of my lifestyle. That’s the case with most people here in Kerala… and all Jack fruits either go decayed back to earth or is sold out to neighboring states. I remember a chef saying that Jack fruit is such a healthy fruit, which even if you eat it with pork every day, you are going to stay all right. The Fruit takes care of all the fat of the pork…sounds nice right :-)
Other than us, there are other stakeholders for Jackfruit here, like the Giant Malabar Squirrel, Bats, Asian palm civet (Marapatti) and monkeys. The fruit is the hunger buster for these being during the monsoon in Kerala. The monsoon is not that great this time; it’s very much windy than ever. However, we have got enough of fruits with us to experiment the whole season.