The rural areas have been celebrating the annual jackfruit season despite the lockdown restrictions. Jackfruit enjoys a prime position as a nutritious and delicious ingredient in many dishes and is loved by all irrespective of their age. The summer fruit has become particularly popular owing to the lockdown as people are busy cooking ‘myriad’ dishes using almost all the parts of a jackfruit.
Steamed jackfruit in spiced coconut paste, thoran (stir fry), jackfruit avial and puzhukku (jackfruit bulbs and seeds cooked with vegetables) are some of the star items for lunch. Crispy jackfruit chips could be enjoyed with the evening tea. Meanwhile, it is a great bonding time for many families as all the members gather around a giant ripe jackfruit to enjoy the sweet bulbs.
Jackfruit seeds are another inevitable item in many traditional dishes. Besides the quintessential jackfruit seed thoran, they are added as an ingredient in avial and sambar as well. The braver cooks are even ready to try out unique items like jackfruit seed pickle and juice. Jackfruit payasam (dessert) have now become the favourite item to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions during the lockdown. The jackfruit trees in the countryside are full of varikka and koozha varieties. Chembarathi varikka and then varikka enjoy great demand as well.
Most households in the countryside have at least one jackfruit tree in their backyard. So, there is no need to buy them from outside. However, the people here are a bit upset that they cannot share it with their friends and relatives who stay in the cities. The lockdown days have significantly altered the eating habits of Keralites. From fast food and packaged food, Keralites have returned to the goodness of the traditional dishes that are cooked using locally available ingredients.
Besides jackfruit, mangoes, tapioca, guavas, spinach, yam and colocasia are some of the organic produce that has made a comeback to the dining tables in the state. The community kitchens too are busy making traditional dishes using local produces.