Chakka or jack fruit is a common fruit in South India. Jack fruit is a seasonal fruit and there are several delicious jack fruit recipes. Ripe jack fruit has a distinctively strong aroma and is naturally sweet. It tastes best for desserts. Chakka varatti is a popular jack fruit delicacy of Kerala which is made with fully ripe jack fruit bulbs. Chakka varatti is mainly a preserve and if made in the right consistency can be stored and used for more than a year. Never heard of jack fruit jam? Well, you’re in for a treat!
Making chakka varatti was a yearly tradition back home in Kerala. The smell of varikka chakka is divine. By the way varikka chakka is the variety used to make chakka varatti. It is very sweet, tastes like honey and has a firm flesh even when it is ripe. Jack fruit is the most versatile of all tropical fruits. It has a strong fragrance when ripe and your whole house with be filled with a strong fruity aroma. Jack fruit is seasonal but you can enjoy it year-round if you make this preserve. Chakka varattiyathu is also used as the main ingredient to make Chakka pradhaman/payasam . It is used to make sweet snacks like kozhukatta, kumbilappam, and Ela ada, etc. It is mixed with coconut and used as a filling for steamed dumplings.
There are a few things etched in my memory when I think of making chakka varattiyathu. The young me sitting with the elder members of the family, grandmother, and her sisters and listening to their stories. They used to talk about their childhood happy times and the sad ones like the recession, World War II and the time when food was rationed. During those hard times, jack fruit became a sustainable food and they made several affordable recipes with jack fruit. It changed my outlook on this fruit. Long story short I have started deeply admiring this fruit and its versatility.
Making this preserve involves a lot of patience and labor. Fully ripe jack fruit bulbs have to be first cooked with jaggery and ghee and then reduced to the form of a halwa. but I promise it is definitely worth the effort. Try this, and enjoy your delicious homemade chakka varatti 🙂
Jack fruit is common in Kerala and the state fruit of Kerala. Ripe sweet jack fruit is eaten as a snack by itself just like any other fruit. Young and tender jack fruit are used to make savory curries and stir-fries. When in the season it is considered as a staple food. Mashed jack fruit is prepared just like mashed tapioca and served with spicy fish curry.
Jack fruit has recently gained much interest as a plant-based meat alternative. It is starchy and rich in fiber. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamin c, magnesium, and potassium. It is good for your skin and boosts the immune system. The best place to find fresh jack fruit in the US is specialty markets like Whole Foods or Asian and Indian Stores.
How to make Chakka Varatti
Cooking and Prep Time- 2 hours
Recipe type- preserve/dessert
Cuisine- Kerala/ Indian
Ripe Jack fruit chopped-7 cups
Jaggery powdered-1 kg
Ghee- 1/2 cup
Cardamon powder- 2 tsp
Dry ginger powder- 1 tsp( optional)
Prepping the Jack fruit
Use varikka chakka variety for this recipe. It is very sweet and firm flesh even when it is ripe and has a chewy texture. This variety has less fiber and is good to make chakka varatti
Cut it into half and then into four quarters. The pale-yellow, plump bulbs, which are edible and joined at the core. Slice off the core and use your hand to pull it away from the white fibers, discard the fibers and the rind. Save the seeds for curries and stir fry.
To make the chakka varatti
Boil jaggery with one cup of water till completely dissolved and strain out the impurities. Put it back to the stove and simmer on medium flame till it thickens to one thread consistency.
Chop the jack fruit into small pieces. Add this into a blender and make a puree.
Take a heavy bottom pan and add the jack fruit puree. Cook it on medium flame and stir occasionally. Let it cook completely and thicken. This will take about 10 minutes. If you do not like the puree method, you can cook the chopped jack fruit and when it cooks mash well with the aid of a potato masher.
Add in jaggery and let it cook and reduce. Stir continuously at this stage as the mixture will tend to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add in ghee little by little and when the mixture thickens add cardamom and dry ginger powder and stir continuously till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and roll to form a dark softball. Let it cool down completely. It will thicken as it cools. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
Hope you will all enjoy.