Monday, August 4, 2008

Chakkakuru-Maanga curry – Jackfruit seeds and green mango cooked in a ground coconut base

After picturing the faces of Shantha and Njondi last weekend, somehow my thoughts were still stuck there, in that neighborhood, like a kid hesitating to return from the seashore. The urban neighborhood, lined with concrete houses on both sides of a well-tarred road, right in the middle of that bustling city where my grandma spent more than 50 years of her life…..the same neighborhood where I spent the formative years of my childhood, mostly on weekends and summer vacations……… it was like standing on the seashore and watching the waves bring back those sunken days and memories of my childhood.

From Shantha and Njondi, my mind’s motion pictures rolled back to the face of that young Tamilian belle who used to drop by once in a month or two, selling fresh produce. Whenever grandma asked for unreasonable bargains, she had a wide grin on her face, showing her stained teeth and rosy pink gum, telling my grandma in her own way that she was not going to settle down for that rate. Even when she was tired and tanned, walking in that scorching summer, her face always beamed with glow when she smiled that way, especially during those days when she was pregnant with a baby girl. I don’t remember her name, grandma always used to refer her as Thamizhathi (the one from Tamilnadu) but I still remember her well, wearing a green sari and red blouse with a money pouch tied to her hips, and the coins jiggled when she walked along with her ‘Kolusu’ (anklets), and flowers from the Chemabaka Poo strings looped into her hair danced to her walking pace.

The next familiar face that popped up in my mind was the mobile bakery guy who used to come by around 3.30- 4pm in the evening with hot puffs and samosa which we used to have with hot tea. Though grandma used to have in her regular glass tumbler, I insisted the maid to serve me the tea in the pretty delicate ‘VIP guests only’ La Opala tea cup; for some reason I felt tea tasted better in that one!! Then that ice-cream man who came on mid mornings whose cycle bell rang continuously when he neared my maternal house, on his three wheeler cycle cart which had Joy Ice-cream logo painted on the cooler box..............the cotton candy man who passed by our street in the evening and I never missed his melt in the mouth cotton candy which he used to pack in a newspaper cone for 50 paisa onwards……then ofcourse the ice-fruit man who visited the neighborhood at the noon, selling colored ice cubes made with more water and less milk; he was not entertained at our gates as it was rated among the not hygienic stuff we were not supposed to eat.

Now when I write this another classic character with her shriveled hands and wrinkled face comes to my mid; my grandma’s long-term maid cum companion, Choochi, a 60+ old Anglo –Indian woman who used to chaperone me after my school hours, whenever I was supposed to come over to grandma’s on weekends for my dance classes. I remember my grandma writing her name ‘Madatheena’, in her expense book and marking her salary against her name. Choochi was popular in that neighborhood because of her signature ‘over-heated langue’ and on the walk back from school, she would chance upon someone she knew in front of John’s tailor shop or at the Khader’s pettikkada ( a small shop). It was from Khader’s shop I used to get my share of Bobanum Moliyum, Poppins and Jeeraka Mittai (multi colored candied cumins)……

Then I remember the communist leader, Pappan chettan’s house behind my grandma’s house, her other neighbors Thankamma…..Mable teacher….Rosy whose son was serving his term behind the bars ……then the one and only 14 storied building where stayed the naval officers from northern India and their wives, who always applied bright pink or red lipstick and dyed their hair with henna and always wore flashy Salwars and Sarees. The more prominent of all was the Holy Cross Convent which was just opposite to our house and that was the landmark given for auto drivers…….the nuns always exchanged a smile or had a word with my grandma whenever they met her but I must say that I always felt that they were very stingy with the mangoes they harvested from that huge mango tree, in their front yard which yielded hundred of mangoes every year….. young boys used to try their luck with sling shots when mangoes were in season. Nuns gave a small share of green mangoes to my grandma every year during the harvest……BOOM! Suddenly real life strikes and I happily step into my present……

At this point, there is a surge of characters and buildings from that neighborhood that shared a part of my childhood and I can go on and on about those days ….these people may not even remember me but this thamizhathi and the cotton candy man, Choochi and Khader all are characters from a colourful childhood I enjoyed and they will always be part of my cherished memories until the day , lets say, the beast Alzheimer’s attacks me!! Frankly, I dread that day!!!!

Well, since my memory tape was paused at the green mangoes from the convent, it kept playing in my head until I noticed some decent green mangoes at the Indian grocery store in our town. And I put it to best use; I paired the sour green mangoes with gentlemanly jackfruit seeds to recreate the classic Chakkakuruvum mangayum thenga arachu vechathu aka populary known as Chakkakuru- Maanga Curry which is green mangoes and jackfruit seeds cooked in a ground coconut base. It is one of those delicacies most Keralites crave for and here is my mother’s recipe to recreate the classic in your kitchen:


For boiling:
  • 1 cup Chakkakuru/jackfruit seeds, cleaned and cut into medium thin strips (I used frozen)
  • ½ cup sour green mango, cut into the same size of jackfruit seeds
  • 6-8 drumstick pieces of 1 ½ inch length, cleaned and cut (Optional)
  • 3 green chillies
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp chilly powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 + 1/3 cup water
For Grinding:
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 3-4 green chillies
  • ¼ - ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • Salt
½ cup water to make the gravy

For Seasoning:
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 2 small red pearl onions
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Grind grated coconut, green chillies, garlic, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and curry leaves with a dash of salt into a fine and smooth paste and keep aside. Add some water if your mixer giving you a hard-time.
  • In a deep vessel, cook Chakkakuru/jackfruit seeds mildly spiced with red chilly powder, turmeric powder and salt in 1 cup water. When Chakkakuru/jackfruit seeds are almost done, add sliced mangoes and drumsticks with green chillies and add around 1/3 cup water, until everything is cooked well. Mango and drumstick gets cooked fast. To this add the ground coconut paste and pour around ½ cup water or enough to get your desired consistency and bring to a boil in medium heat and turn off the stove immediately as the texture changes badly if u continue to boil the ground coconut mixture.
  • In a shallow pan, heat coconut oil and splutter mustard seeds, dry chilly and sauté small onions and curry leaves for a minute and pour it to the curry. Let it rest for minimum one hour for the curry to embrace the sourness of mangoes and blend with the seeds and creamy coconut paste.
  • Serve with warm rice. It tastes better the next day.
Check Charline’s take on this classic and have a look at those gorgeous jackfruit seeds. They look pretty compared to my frozen ones but I am glad atleast I got a pack of it!!!! :)

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  1. hi shn...
    most of characters sound so familiar!! guess every malayali has a similar bunch of neighbours..
    hmmmm.....chakka kuru is my i wish i also get chakka kuru mom also prepares this curry exactly the same way!!

  2. reading the names of the characters remind me of the book :God's Own Country:...My Mom makes this curry and it has been the best I've tasted so far :)

  3. Your write-up brings back a lot of memories, bobanum moliyum, jeeraka mitayi (which my daughetr loves now), the pettikada, the "pookaran" selling flowers and we had a "porikaari" from Tamilnadu who used to bring various types of crisped rice!
    I know that people in Kerala love this dish , but I'm not one of them. Anything "chakka" (except varatti and chips), I don't like.:(

  4. Hi,
    Dish looks really nice...interesting recipe .

  5. thanks for this post..though I dont fancy getting chakkakuru in Germany..I loved this post...because it is easily my alltime favourite chaaru curry...and everyone in my family knows it..So they even make fun of me saying chekkuvinu chakkakurumaaga!!

    i can easily enjoy it with just a pickle coz the curry is good enough with dont even actually need a side dish..

    La Opala we had it too..and specially reserved for guest..namakku only steel plates.;-P

  6. hey that is a nice combo i bet it will taste good

  7. Despite being a true blue Keralite, chakkakkuru is something I've never developed a liking for. I like the look of your curry, though. Now I need to think of a substitute for chakkakkuru.

  8. yes mish,you are still on the beautiful seashore;of childhood,of chweet memories...smiling here seeing this nostalgic recipe.I adore this particular dish and proud to say that this is been placed among my nostalgic tastes.Whenever i see the glimpse of jackfruit,my mind start dreaming this curry.I cant stop wondering how the vibrant food factor connects our past, present and future ! So precious and we have to thank Lord for all these small BIG blesings.Shn,if you are still on the seashore my dont you comeup with a new label "nostalgic" ? Or why dont we think about a blog event called Nostalgic Delicacies ? haha

  9. Shn, you are a born story teller. I got engrossed in the story and I am almost late :)
    Love both jackfruit seeds and green mango, the combo must be delish.

  10. Your writing broyght back my childhood memories and ofcourse our own "meen lady".:D..Was very nice to read.I love jackfruit seeds..and this mango is so delicious.I make this recipe very often and aviyal also with frozen seeds.Just yesterday i made jackfruit masala curry.Now a days i am cooking a lot of fish too and the most popular one being mathi..i made the red curry with mathi a week ago..i loved your mathi fry..

  11. :) I think most of those characters lived in my neighborhood ;)
    It's always a treat going down the memory lane with you Shn!

    And chakkakkuru-manga curry...... that is my alltime favorite curry, I have even made up songs about it... it is a very musical name, isn't it? :)

  12. Oh!You brought back good old memories...i used to go with my grandfather to all small shops to have vadas and all kind of snacks in a small place in of the small shop is still there...wish it still continues...

    the curry looks yummy....


  13. All of us such characters associated with their childhood.. Its so nice reading them with you :)) You really make it sound so interesting and nice..
    The curry sounds great Shn!!

  14. yummmm.. I am almost drooling :-) reminds me of my mom's curry.
    Whats up with La opala, My mom still treasures besides her crystalware!
    Missing poppins :(
    @jayshree : actually you can substitite chakkakuru with just drumsticks also.

  15. I don't believe I've ever seen a Jackfruit, Shn. I'm intrigued though. And I enjoyed your walk down memory lane. :)

  16. Oh dear....your write refreshened my mind of sooo many ppl and stuff that I hv lived parts of my summer vacations at my grannies home in kerala....and I love chakka kuru, especially the ollatu with chemmeen...

  17. jackfruit seeds and raw mango.. awesome..brought back lots of memories.. my grandmom thrilled to have us during the vacation, and cutting a jackfruit, deseeding and saving them, roasting them, making chakka payasam, adding the seeds in subji etc.. lovely the mathi fry too:-)

  18. i love chakkakuru!! our visits home to kerala occasionally used to coincide with chakka manga season- when the house, courtyards, the kitchen, the orchard, the kids et all would smell of the two. loved your walk down the memory lane... took me down mine as well. with both the set of grandparents now settled in kerala I hope my daughter will have similar memories to cherish when she grows up. we also make chakkakuru manga thayirozhicha style. there are so many ways!!!

  19. Hi Shn

    I have something for you..Check my blog ..

  20. hi... do drop by my blog and pick up your award (by me)!!! :)

  21. :) as always an amazing story and a yumm recipie... :)

    my mom makes chakakuru chemeen mango curry... i loveee it! :)

  22. Such vivid and cherished memories.

  23. hi shn,
    have been a regular reader of your blog, delurking now... i tried the chakkakuru manga curry and it came out real awesome... thanks for sharing the recipe

  24. Ha,that's my favourie one....&had lots & lots of this curry,jack fruit,chakka varattiyathu, al these days.....hehe....kothi varunno....
    Sounds like Jr.Arunthadi Roy....hmm....another Booker prize in waiting?.....))))))))))))

  25. shn .. what an engrossing story! and I can't take my eyes off that pictures.. delicious!

  26. Divz, I guess so as most readers here could associate themselves with such forgotten characters from their childhood! Good luckfinding chakka kuru , i think it should be much easier for you :)

    Rachel, assume that it was a good compliment :P who's the author of the book....should I add it to my book list?

    Aparna, yeah we had a porikkari too, we called her "avalukari" as she used to bring both and then several pookkaaran and pookaari...they used to come by early morning....i remember it was just 75pc per 'muzham' those days, i mean when i was a it is between 10-15 bucks i guess!!

    Vaidehi, hope you try!

    Mathew, "chekkuvinu chakkakurumanga"! LoL! i liked that one...looks like ur whole family has got that humour gene working quite well :D I did think of you while cooking and eating as you kept mentioning about this one ...:))and u re so right about the steel plates....i never liked it..

    Smn, it is :)

    Jayashree, you can make this with just drumstick and green mango or if you re a non-veg can add prawns too.

    Ann, evokes memories and it is quite powerful that way. Havent you read the sub title of this blog...., so why need another label when the whole blog is an attempt at polishing the old memories and recreating the taste of those days ? :))

    Indosungod, LOL :))you should do such reading at office hours not at home :P Glad you enjoyed reading this :)

    Mahe, Thank you :) we used to call them meenkaaran and meenkaari :))i remember my grandma making aviyal with is tasty as you said...and i envy you get all these mathi and jackfruit seeds in ur city lucky!!! :)

    Sig, thanks :) yeah, it is hard to find a neighbourhood in our place without a pettikkada and meenkaaran....:) guess what , after reading ur message, i did feel that it is very musical and this morning a friend mailed me the song they used to sing about this curry.....:))) btw, you got me curious...want to hear ur songs now :)

    Rashmi, thank you :) hmm...grandma and lil girl time....oh i wish i had that....i had only one grandfather and he was too old during those i missed such times...lucky you :)

    Swati, treasures of childhood....those ppl are interesting than story book characters, isn't it? :) Nice to know that you enjoyed the post.

    Seema, even now la opala sentiment is very folks still gift such stuff for marriage and house warming et al.....:)

    Susan,you wont miss jackfruit if it is somewhere in your vicinity as it wont go unnoticed....its huge....a green giant :)

    Shella, happy to know that some names here could take you to your childhood. and that combo, oh its lovely..!!!

    Shreya, u had my mouth water by the end of your comment :)))

    Rajani, yeah i hope the younger generation also get to enjoy such experiences...we dint have the richness of experience like our parents' generation....they had so much fun celebrating onam et dwellers like us missed out on all cant imagine how much the younger generation will be able to experience!

    Swati, & Rajai, Thanks a lot:) Honour to receive from two great talented people :)

    Vidya, thank you :) you know what, i made that last week but couldnt photograph as it didnt look photogenic :D but taste was awesome :)

    Cynthia, thanks dear :)

    Vidya, thank you for the feedback, very nice of you :) Happy to know that you enjoyed the recipe and dish :)

    Liz, u got me jealous at the last two...:(( chakka kuru craving oru vidham othukkiyappo , dhey eppo chakka varattiyathum pranju varunnu!!! pinne enikku ee award-l onnum valiya thaalpparyam ellanne....:D

    Mandira, thanks dear....glad that you enjoyed the post :)


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  29. Kitchen Flavours, thank you...glad to know that you enjoyed my lil space here :)

    Ursjina, oh, I really dont mind such things :) Actually it is there on the sidebar itself -


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