Well, the practice of bartering was not just with stationery items or for a piece of cloth, it extended to food too, especially during the college days…….don’t you agree? We used to exchange our lunch and sometimes lunch boxes itself…..A’s appam and chilli chicken used to be with L whose chammanthi podi and kovakka mezhukkupuratti was for S, whose Idichakka thoran for my chappathi and beef fry! Butterfly days filled with rainbow colors!!! I was always excited about S’ Idichakka Thoran, which she used to bring over a layer of rice, mixed with Ulli Theeyal, in an oval shaped stainless steel lunch box, wrapped with a white and blue checkered cotton towel …….it was a simple preparation of tender green jackfruit with a touch of grated coconut, lightly spiced up with green chillies and a dash of pepper powder.
For my father, Idichakka Thoran is more than a side dish……during his childhood, it was an evening snack served with Kattan chaya/Black Tea! Surprising, isn’t it? But if you go back to 5 or 6 decades and look at a family with a dozen kids ( Oh yeah, my paternal house has enough members for an army battalion!) and a huge backyard with plentiful traditional veggies and fruits, enough to prepare a traditional feast and then sometimes, even the side dishes used to get its prime time show at the coffee table!
Side dish or snack, Idichakka Thoran is a traditional member of Kerala Cuisine that sometimes finds its place on ‘Thoosan ela’, depending on the season. Idichakka is tender green jackfruit, which weighs somewhere from ½ kg to 1 kg ; cleaned and diced, it goes into the ‘ural', and then pounded with a ‘ulakka’ (hence the name Idichakka) , the bigger version of today’s tabletop mortar and pestle set and then steam cooked and stir fried with a touch of grated coconut , mildly spiced up with green chillies, ginger, shallots and cumin and seasoned with our quintessential coconut oil, mustard seeds, dry red chillies and last but not the least, the fresh and fabulous, curry leaves.
- 280gm cleaned and diced Idichakka/Tender & young green jackfruit ( I used canned, brined in water from a brand called, CHAOKOH)
- ½ tsp + ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- Around ½ cup water or just enough to cook Idichakka/Tender & young green jackfruit
- 1/3 cup tightly packed grated coconut
- 2small red pearl onions/shallots, finely chopped
- 4 green chillies, finely chopped
- ½ - ¾ tsp ginger, finely chopped
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper powder
- 1 sprig of curry leaves
- 1 ½ tbsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 2 whole dry red chillies
- ¼ tsp Uzhunnu parippu/Black grams/urad dal
- Start by rinsing the drained Idichakka/Tender & young green jackfruit pieces in water, if you re using the canned product. Shred the pieces, using a fork or nature’s best tool, your fingers. In a skillet, throw in the shredded jackfruit flesh, salt, ½ tsp turmeric powder and around ½ cup of water or just enough to cook Idichakka/Tender & young green jackfruit and cook covered, till it is soft and almost done and then keep the lid open and let the water evaporate, in low heat; when it is done, transfer everything to a bowl. OR if you are using fresh Idichakka/Tender & young green jackfruit, cook and then shred the pieces by pounding them using a mortar and pestle set or pulse them in a processor, one or two times.
- Meanwhile, crush and blend grated coconut, chopped green chillies, ginger, small onions, cumin seeds and turmeric powder with a dash of salt, using your hands or pulse one or two times in a times.
- Using a kitchen napkin, dry the skillet, in which you cooked Idichakka/Tender & young green jackfruit. Heat oil in the same pan, and splutter mustard seeds, followed by Uzhunnu parippu/Black grams and dry whole red chillies. Sauté for 30-40 seconds; sprinkle freshly ground pepper powder and combine well with the coarse coconut mixture. To this add the cooked and shredded Idichakka/Tender & young green jackfruit and stir well and cook covered, in medium heat, for a minute or two. Do a taste test, adjust the salt and tear some fresh curry leaves and stir well; cook without the lid for a minute and turn off the stove.
- Serve with Kuthari choru or Kanji or as in the olden times, serve as an evening snack with a
cupglass of black tea!
This post is part of SADYA VIBHAVANGAL – Learn to make the traditional Kerala Feast- An Artist’s Edible Palette!
Grandmoms used Ural and Ulakka, Moms use tabletop mortar and pestle sets, and we use food processors...where re we going next??
Have a beautiful week ahead!
Update: You may also add a small garlic in the crushed coconut mixture as it is good for digestion.