Wish you all a very happy Vishu/New Year ! May this year be filled with fun, love,hope and happiness !Below is a picture of "vishukkani", the first view one should have on a Vishu morning. We believe that it brings us luck and prosperity.Elders cover the eyes of kids, and lead them to the room where this is kept. I will tell you about the traditional way of keeping all this ready some other time.
Vishu makes me nostalgic, just like any other big festival we celebrate in Kerala.I have told you a lot about Vishu and my stories here and here. But I can tell you even more stories ! A fresh morning after a rain the day before, or the anticipation of 'vishukkaineettam" ,or the big family get together and the 'sadya' and so on. As a child I used to relate Vishu to Summer vacation and also to mango/jackfruit season .Wonderful memories, down the lane !
Since both my parents used to work,most part of summer vacation was spent with my grand parents, who lived nearby. With acres of land and umpteen number of Jackfruit trees and Mango trees,my sister, my cousins and I used to hop around, from tree to tree, like monkeys,though not like Tarzan,through the ground.Have you ever eaten a mango as soon as it falls off from the tree ? Shh, who cares if you didn't wash it ! It tastes like heaven. Same is the case with jackfruit.
At my grand parent's place, every jackfruit tree had a name ! When we cook them raw, they all taste different and most of the family members would say which jackfruit tree,that fruit belongs to.Does it sound weird ? It is true ! For example, one near the well was called "kinattukara plavu" which literally translates to jacfruit tree near the well and the youngest tree is given a name "thaiplavu" which means 'younger jackfruit tree', though the tree was as big as all the others. One more name I can remember is "mundavarikka"(dwarf jackfruit), which used to yield really small but super delicious fruits.Unfortunately most of them are either cut down for making furniture or giving way to rubber plantation. But they still do have a lot of other, newer, trees, maybe with new names there.I just can't wait to have some of them while I visit Kerala in June.If you would like to see one of them,go here.
There are basically 2 varieties of Jackfruit, one very stiff and less fibrous when ripened,the most popular one, called "varikka" and the other notorious one,which will leave a yucky mess on the ground when it falls off from the tree, the slimy, tasty,overly fibrous "koozha". When you see both the varieties, before they ripe, you cannot tell any difference,unless you are a jackfruit expert .I love both varieties and my mom makes different dishes using both of them.
Every year during this season she makes Jackfruit preserves, from "varikka chakka". Last year when M visited India, without us, my mom sent some Jackruit preserve/halwa for us.She knows how much I love this. But she must have definitely sent it for her sweet grand daughter who doesn't like chakkayada, but could eat spoon after spoon of this preserve, as it is ! Most part of it was sitting in one corner of my fridge and I know if I don't make use of it, next time I visit , I will feel guilty to ask my mom to send more of it.
The recipe is almost same like this Kumbilappam. I am copying and pasting most of it, as it is ! This is a lot of work, especially if you are a beginner. But it is all worth it !
Happy Vishu !! Vishudina aasamsakal !
Preparation Time: 1 hour to 1 1/2 hour
Cooking time- 45 minutes
Chakka varattiyathu/Jackfruit Halwa aka preserve/Jackfruit mashed- 1/2 kg
Rice flour (mixture of puttu and appam flour)- 1/2 kg (~3cups)
Coconut grated- 2 1/2 cup
Jaggery- 1 cup/ to your taste
Jeera- 1/2 tsp
Cardamom- 1/4 tsp
1.Mix the jackfruit halwa, coconut,jeera,cardamom and jaggery well.
2.Now add the flour and mix well. Slowly add water ,just enough to make a smooth dough.I added about 2 cups.
3.The consistency should be little more watery than the chappathi dough.
4.Meanwhile prepare the banana leaves ready, clean them and wilt them a bit,by keeping them on stove top directly on low heat, so that it is easy to handle the leaves.Make pieces that are about 12 inches or less in width.
5.Spoon out about 1/2 cup of dough on the middle of leaf piece. Fold it from all the four sides, leaving some space on all sides of dough. When gets cooked ,it expands.
6.Steam and cook for about 40-45 minutes or until it is done.If you are using jackfruit instead of halwa steam it even longer. Jackfruit needs more time to get cooked.
7.Cool completely before storing. This can be kept at room temperature for 2-3 days and in the fridge for several days.