If it is monsoons, it is time for jack fruit all the way in the homes of Mangalore. Yes it is the time for this great tropical fruit and the city is flooded with them and people are gorging on them in its various value added recipes.
Jack has a unique quality of merging into Indian culinary traits while it still retains its original taste and aroma, unlike Mango, which sometimes loses its identity in the m?lange of masala and spices. ?The very taste, aroma and composition of jack fruit is ideal of value addition, of course it is great to eat a fully ripe fruit just like that but when cooked in Indian style, particularly Mangalorean style, its utility doubles. Nobody can eat the full fruit, a family of four can devour a full size fruit in three days if eaten without any value addition, but the Mangaloreans have developed their own dishes over the centuries? says Mrs. Aruna Pai of Urva who is a great cook and home maker.
The jack fruit arrives in plenty during -June-July in the market but their shelf life is just 2 days after it is plucked from the tree in semi ripened condition. According to figures available with the Horticulture department the total output of Jack fruit in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts was nearly 1200 tons and some 10 tons get exported to Gulf countries and Mumbai.
?Those fruits that get exported are premium quality the kernel of the fruit is thick, chrome yellow in colour and very juicy and aromatic. It can be smelt a mile away when ripe, but the number of trees of this variety was dwindling due to habitat loss and real estate development, these trees grow generally in the backyard of houses with large plots, there are no organized plantations of Jack? says Mr. Manjunath Shetty horticulture officer.
In Mangalore there are two main variety of jack they are called Tuluve and Barke, the former is a soft variety and the latter is hard, both are used for preparing lip smacking goodies like Gatti (a batter of rice and jack mixed with jaggery wrapped in teak leaves and steam cooked) Gari, a batter of rice, grated coconut and jack deep fried) Jack payasam, Rasayana, upkari, pickles, chips of many types and a Mumbai based Ice cream company has also prepared Jack Ice cream which has become an international favorite within a short time. But still the best dish was the rustic jack Mambala which is nothing but dried pulp of jack rolled on a mat. This is very popular with children as it is gummy and chewy. But it is not as popular as its mango counterpart.
The horticulture department however is worried over the dwindling number of jack trees in state. ?We have created a nursery of jack trees in most of our facilities in the state and are enthusing our farmers to plant them in the fringe areas of their fields and they are already planting them. We give an incentive of Rs. 10 per tree every year? say the officials in the department.
Jack also has a special use; they keep the wild animals away in their own circle of habitats. ?it works like this, the animal human confrontation takes place only when the animals are hungry, if jack trees are planted in the fringe areas of the forests and even in the forests they feed on these fruits within their habitat and do not bother to come into the human habitation? say forest officials. Bears, different types of monkeys and rodents devour jack.
Author: Rajat R.- Mangalore