Sumitha’s ‘Kitchen Wonders’ (http://kitchenwonders.blogspot.com/) is a good Blog. I came across an illustrated recipe on it for jackfruit mousse (an exotic idea, I must say). One photo, that of jackfruit cut lengthwise, reminded me of the chips which Eammachi, my maternal grandmother, used to make from this giant sized fruit.
Those familiar with Kerala are likely to have tasted jackfruit chips. They are available in the market. Most of them are hard, yellow and brownish pieces shaped without any cosmetic sense and packed in plastic (forget about food grade) pouches. A person with a discerning palate may not try the market version again.
Eammachi’s jackfruit chips were of the same color that you see in the ‘Kitchen Wonders’ picture, even-sized, and would crumble in the mouth. And they didn’t have a trace of oil. I believe this was achieved by using a fresh chatti (an earthen cooking basin) for each batch. The frying was always even too. How that was achieved without thermostat control was a wonder. The raw material was carefully sourced from selected trees. Only fruits of a particular maturity from varikka (see: Jackfruit, the jumbo) species were used.
Eammachi used to make a whole range of chips and preserves and halwas (my favorite was papaya halwa) and savories with the same care and perfection. The store room in the ara would be full of such goodies when the grandchildren and great grandchildren visited her during holidays.
A remarkable thing about Emmachi was that she would remember each one’s preference, even in curries. But after Ichachan (my maternal grandfather) died, she became a bit disoriented and used to get things mixed up. As a result one would get something that was somebody else’s favorite. We used to eat whatever was served without any protest. What mattered most was the grand old lady’s satisfaction in watching us eat well.
Ichachan was the uncrowned (though he used to wear a turban) king of that area. Eammachi could have lived like a queen but she chose to restrict her domain to the area north of the nalukettu. One very rarely saw her in the southern portion of the large house.
The last time I saw Eammachi was when I dropped in while driving my children back to school in Bangalore after their holidays. As we were leaving she asked ‘Will I see you again?’ I told her I would visit her after a month.
When we reached Bangalore, a telegram (no mobiles those days) was waiting. It carried the sad news of Eammachi’s demise and I caught the next flight back. Even as I write this, my eyes are full.
Oru Desathinte Amma.
Jackfruit, the jumbo
Giant fruits from small tree