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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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