Chakka Varatti or Jack Fruit Jam

Jack fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and potassium and has good health benefits. Each piece of the fruit or ‘cholai’ as it is referred to is of a beautiful yellow color and can be eaten plain or soaked in honey.The fruit gives out a strong aroma which is not liked by a few. On the contrary the very mention of the fruit and the smell can be so intoxicating, as to tempt you to wards non-stop consumption of the fruit. This jam or Chakka Varatti that is made out of ripened jack fruit forms the core ingredient in making delicious jack fruit based dishes like Elai Adai and Chakka Pradaman [ Payasam]. Refer earlier posts for these recipes.

Ingredients
Ripe Jackfruit Cholais [deseeded & cleaned] – 4 cups
Powdered Jaggery – 2 cups
Ghee – 1 cup
Water – as required

Optional
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Dried ginger powder a pinch

Method:

Pressure cook the jackfruit with just enough water till they are tender and soft. 3 – 4 whistles should do.

Cool and mash well. Grind to a smooth paste in a blender.

Melt jaggery with just enough water and strain.

Take a heavy bottomed kadai and pour the melted jaggery into it. Let it come to a boil.

Reduce heat completely and slowly add the jack fruit paste, stirring all the time.

Mix thoroughly and add ghee little by little. The mix should come together to form a thick paste, that is dark brown in color.

It is ready when most the moisture is absorbed and it gets a jam like consistency.

Remove and cool. Store in clean dry, air tight containers and refrigerate. Use when required but ensure that you use a dry spoon at all times.

Tips:

Continuous stirring is required during the making of the jam. The mix is likely to splutter out of the container. Hence ensure your hands are protected from getting bunrt by the hot paste.

The jam makes an excellent side dish for Rotis and Bread varieties.

Add dry ginger powder and cardamom only if required. Some prefer to retain the original flavor.

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Elai Adai

Elai Adai is a delicious sweet dish exclusive to Kerala that is made out of Jackfruit Jam, Coconut, Rice Flour and Jaggery. The preparation is unique in that it is a two – layer steamed dish that has the banana leaf as the base. A bit elaborate to make, it is worth every bit of the effort and once made gets devoured in no time.

The most important ingredient is the jackfruit jam. Since jack fruit is not available through out the year the jam can be made and preserved during the season time so that it can be used any time of the year. However many shops now sell ready made jam which can be bought and used. The taste of the dish is further enhanced by the aroma of the banana leaf on which is it placed and steamed.

In olden days [ and even now in some homes in Kerala] the preparation of the jam by itself is a huge ritual. A whole jack fruit is sometimes used in the making of the jam in hugely populated households. The jam is so tasty it can eaten plain too. In fact the jam is used in the preparation of another delicacy ‘ Chakka Payasam ‘ or Chakka Pradaman’ [ refer earlier posts]. Will comne up with a separate post on preparing the jam.

Ingredients:

Jack fruit jam – 1 cup
Grated jaggery – 3/4 cup
Grated Coconut – 2 cups
Raw rice – 3/4 cup
Boiled Rice – 1 cup
Gingely Oil – 1 tlbsp
Salt – Pinch

Base :
Banana Leaves – One per piece of adai. Cut them into squares depending on the size of your steamer.

Method:

For the filling:
Melt jaggery with little water and strain.
In a heavy bottomed pan pour melted jaggery and add the jack fruit jam.
Stir well so that the jam mixes well to a paste like consistency without any lumps.
Added grated coconut and mix well till it again reaches a jam – like consistency and all the moisture is gone.

For the paste:
Soak rice up to 8 hours and grind to a smooth paste.
Add salt and gingely oil and mix well.
The paste should be very thick – of spreading consistency.

Raw banana leaves are bound to tear and have to be seasoned in order to be used here. Hold each piece of leave over the flame in the stove and flip each side over for a minute. Alternatively you can steam the leaves too for a few minutes.

When all the above three components are ready:

Take a banana leaf and spread a thin layer pf rice flour over it. Cover only 3/4 th of the leaf.
Now spread the jam over the rice flour mix again ensuring that you stop just before the edges [ of the rice flour paste in this case]
Fold the leaf into half quickly and fold the edges to seal them.
Place in a steamer and steam on medium flame for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the number of pieces placed in the steamer.
You will know it is done once the adai comes off the leaf.
The adai can be had straight from the leaf or gently removed and placed on a plate.

Tips:
The adai can be made in a round or square shape as per your comfort levels.
The banana leaf has to be carefully handled once the filling is done while transferring it to the steamer.
Last heard that even stores in the US stock frozen banana leaves that can be used for Elai Adai.

Paanagam or Paanakam – A traditional Health Drink

Paanagam in Sanskrit means Sweet Drink. It is offered as ‘neivedhyam’ or ‘prasaad’ to Lord Rama on his birthday – Raama Navami, that is celebrated on the 9th day [ Navami ] of the Chaithra Month of the hindus.
It can be made very quickly in easy steps [ just add & stir] and devoured even more quickly [ sip,sip,sip…]. Paanagam has great health benefits and tastes divine. Jaggery is rich in mineral salts and iron which help in strengthening the nervous system and preventing anemia.
Dried ginger powder or sukku as it is known in Tamil Nadu aids in digestion and its intake benefits people of all ages.

On the whole a very soothing and refreshing drink for summer.

Ingredients:

Jaggery – 1/2 Cup grated
Dried Ginger Powder – 1/2 tsp
Cardamon – 1/4 tsp
Salt – a Pinch
Lime – 1/2
Pachai Karpooram/ edible camphor. – a small pinch
Water – 3 cups

Method :
Add jaggery to water with rest of the ingredients.
Squeeze in the Lime.
Stir continuously till jaggery dissolves completely.
Strain and serve chill.

Tips:
Adjust quantity of lime and jaggery to suit your taste buds, depending on how sweet you want it to be.
If you feel the jaggery is not clean enough, you can mix it with water bring it to a boil, strain and mix rest of the ingredients after cooling.

Mor Kali or Buttermilk Upma

Mor kali is an easy and quick – to – do recipe that is a general favorite in most households in Tamil Nadu. Ingredients are easy to find and it can be prepared within short notice.

Ingredients:
Rice Flour – 1 cup
Buttermilk – 3 cups.
Oil – 3 to 4 tlbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curd Chillies [Mor Molagas] – 2 to 3
Urad Dal – ½ tsp
Channa Dal – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste
Curry Leaves

Method:

• Add rice flour to the buttermilk and mix well to form a smooth batter without lumps. Add salt to taste.
• In a heavy bottomed Kadai or non stick pan add I tlbsp of oil and put in the mustard. When it splutters add urad dal, channa dal, curry leaves & the chilies [ split into two] and fry till the dal is golden brown.
• Pour in the rice + buttermilk batter and mix well.
• Add rest of the oil and stir well in low flame so that the batter does not stick to the sides of the pan. Cook till done [the batter takes on a translucent look when done]
• Serve Hot.

Tips:

Red Chilies can replace Curd Chilies. [Curd Chilies or Mor Molagas are essentially green chilies soaked in sour curds and then dried in the sun completely. These dried chilies are then fried in oil till black in color

Care must be taken while stirring the batter in low flame. That is why a lot of oil is used to ensure that the batter does not burn

If you want to avoid using excess oil you can make the same in microwave too. Prepare the seasoning on stove and pour this over the batter. Mix well and place it in the microwave at medium temperature and stir every few minutes till done. It could take approximately 10 to 12 mins

By Mrs. Mira Balachandran; mira.balachandran@gmail.com