Monday, February 16, 2009

Kadachakka Puzhukku/Thoran - A side dish with breadfruit

Last week I happened to read Ann’s evocative post, reminiscing her childhood days spent at maternal ancestral home and her story took me right back to my maternal home where I loved spending most of my childhood and adolescence. Nevertheless, what struck me most was the part where she painted the picture of her grandparents waiting for their arrival……….I knew exactly what she was talking about as that was more or less the same picture at my paternal ancestral home too. The only difference was that we didn’t have a grandmother waiting for us, instead Achichan/grandpa and a quarter dozen of my aunts and uncles and my little cousins waited for us. The smile on their faces and warmth in their eyes was always heart warming and inviting. My grandfather was a handsome old man, wheat complexioned with almost 6 foot height and a large round belly and a Rudraksha-maala/beaded chain around his neck and if it was his bath day, the gracefulness on his face doubled with that triple layer Chandana-kuri with a round kunguma – pottu on his forehead  and some more chandanam/sandal paste smeared on his arms and chest,  giving him an aristocrat regal look. 

As we stood at the verandah talking to them, the irresistible aroma of roasted coconut simmering in Kadala/black chickpeas Curry wafting from the kitchen, circled us magically. In minutes we were served breakfast with Puttu, Kadala Curry, steamed ripe plantains and a glass of tea for my parents and uncles and a glass of milk flavored with an extra spoonful of  Bournvita for us kids. Food was the expression of love in that house and for the same reason, each of my aunts always prepared something special for our visit…sometimes it was the grainy avalose podi or Aval Vilayichathu, a sweet snack with rice flakes and jaggery or Sughiyan, deep fried sweetened lentil fritters and if an aunt forced us a bit more to eat one particular snack from that list, it was a clear indication for us to learn that she made it :)

By the time we finished having breakfast and changed to household clothes, the activity at the kitchen would be at its full swing. My mother along with one of my aunts would start chopping vegetables for lunch, sitting on top of Ari-petti, a wooden storage box to store rice and lentils. Sheeja chechi & Usha chechi, two young maids would be either cleaning fresh fish or grating coconut at the work area of the kitchen. When two wood burning stoves and gas burners were in full action, one of my aunts would slowly move to Viraku-pura/wood storage area which was earlier called Achichan’s Marunnu-pura ( a place to make medicine) when he was practicing Ayurveda. She would start setting up a temporary Aduppu, a wood burning stove to start making one of our favourite Payasam. I always stood on the steps of Viraku-pura watching my aunt stirring payasam with a chattukam  in a big Uruli, a wide mouthed bell metal vessel. I was hesitant to go inside as I had heard about few instances of spotting some unwanted visitors who slither!! :-O

Next to Viraku- pura was a Kozhi-koodu/hen house, on a 5 foot four legged concrete pedestal but at one point of time, the actual  residents were some rabbits! At old age, Achichan wanted some new pets, I guess :) Right next to that one was our favourite place, Kulam…..with my brother, I remember trying to catch small fish, holding a cheese cloth like thorthu from two sides :) There was also a motor shed adjacent to Kulam as water was pumped from this pond to water the coconut tress and other plants and water was navigated through a narrow handmade sand canal which we called, kaiyyani.  All of us cousins have got scolding atleast once in our childhood for playing in that water and walking through Kaiyyani because if we broke the edges, it would act like a broken levee and water would leak into unwanted areas.  Mostly my uncles or their assistants, Chandra chettan or Sukumaran chettan would be in charge of opening and closing these small canals with a shovel. That motor shed served another function too, it also acted as the place for hiding everything from X X X Rum to McDowells to Honey Bee to toddy as my father and uncles never wanted to let their father or anyone know about their little ‘indulgence’ as they played few rounds of 28 or rummy :P 

With the canopy of coconut leaf fronds our yard,Parambu had a myriad of trees yielding everything from jackfruit, mango, coconut, breadfruit, plantain, papaya, banana, nutmeg, tapioca, Kudam-puli, jambakka etc etc….It was under the jambakka tree in the front yard, that we had our Oonjal/swing….not the ones you see in parks…this one was different….a thick coir thread was tied to a sturdy branch of the tree and seating was not any iron or wooden planks….ours was an organic one , the base or the thick part of coconut palm fronds cut into a decent length with a V shape on its edges to lock in the coir thread and voila, we had our swing :)  When it was season, with every blow of wind, jambakka fell on the ground…….. though only a 10 or 12 year old , the decorator in me always rose to the situation and decked Achichan’s Shoola-thara/ a holy spear installed on a concrete pedestal, with a raw of those tiny white fruits and it did appear like a small house lit up with a row of lamps on the eve of Deepavali. But Achichan always got furious seeing this as he just could not tolerate his grand daughter showing disrespect to a place where he prayed and did some pooja every day during his entire adulthood. :D

My grandfather was quite a religious man deeply involved in rituals and prayers and hence our ancestral home was a classic example of a Hindu household where the colourful rituals of Hinduism drained an unimaginable portion of family wealth. Whether I consider such rituals superstition or not, I was lucky to witness such pooja and homam being performed at my paternal home, by 5-6 priests with a Homa-kundam/sacred fire in the centre  and a colourful kolam of a goddess drawn out with precision and art at its best. For me such occasions not only gave me a peek into such colourful rituals but also were an opportunity to meet our entire big family. On such days the house was epitome of action…women were busy in kitchen , cleaning up brass mugs and plates for pooja, cooking up vegetarian feast with utmost carefulness to feed the priests, cousins in charge of collecting flowers and separating petals from lotus flowers and men going to the market to buy last minute essentials…and by evening air would be filled with mantra/prayers and songs recited by priests and at night  all of us sat around the sacred fire and basically threw whatever flowers we were handed to , into the homa-kundam/sacred fire and the naughty ones laughed softly when one of the aunts had a bad gastric problem caused by the parippu-curry she had for lunch! :)

When I look back, everything looks like from a totally different era altogether. That old house had been demolished and a new one is there in its place….Achichan passed away long back…… Shoola-thara has been removed and transported to our family temple…………….joint family has become single units though in the same yard itself…….when I called last weekend my little cousins are now all grown up and preparing for board exams and university exams but what still remains is that smile on their faces and warmth in their eyes and the table that continue to be the expression of love with the huge array of food presented each time we visit and the laughter in the house and gossip in the kitchen and ofcourse, Honey Bee in the motor shed too but I have been missing all that for last few years, like a typical NRI !!!

Ann did stir up a tsunami of thoughts in my head!

Kadachakka Puzhukku is a mushy preparation with overcooked breadfruit mixed with mildly spiced ground coconut mixture and my father recalls that it was a regular at home during the breadfruit season. It is usually served as a side dish for lunch but it is a tasty combo when served with Kanji, rice soup for dinner. Though Puzhukku (mashed version) and thoran/stir-fry are technically two different things especially in terms of texture, the same ingredients and methods are used to make a dry stir-fry/thoran with kadachakka/breadfruit. For Puzhukku, it is ideal to have a slightly overcooked Kadachakka/Breadfruit to get a mushy texture for the dish whereas in Thoran, you should make sure that Kadachakka/Breadfruit is just cooked till tender, to have a dry stir-fry texture.

Ingredients: (Approx.)

For cooking:
  • 2 cups Kadachakka/Breadfruit,  cubed (after removing the green exterior)
  • ¼ - ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 Indian green chillies, split lengthwise
  • 1 ½ cups water or enough to cook Kadachakka/Breadfruit
  • Salt to taste
For crushing:
  • ½ - ¾ cup grated coconut
  • 2 small red pearl onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2-3 green chillies, chopped
  • ¼ - ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • A small pinch of cumin seeds/jeera
  • Salt to taste
For seasoning:
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 dry red chilly
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • Cook cubed pieces of Kadachakka/Breadfruit with green chillies, turmeric powder, water and salt, on a stove top, in a sauce pan, until pieces are done and soft, in low-medium heat. To save time, you may also cook Kadachakka/Breadfruit in pressure cooker, until the first whistle comes. Then turn off the stove and let it rest till the steam subsides.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the coconut mixture. Crush and blend the grated coconut well with finely chopped small onion, green chilies, turmeric powder, cumin seeds and a tinge of salt (do not add more salt here as you have already added while cooking Kadachakka/Breadfruit ), using your hands OR a mortar-pestle set OR put all the ingredients in a small food processor and pulse 1-2 times.
  • In a shallow pan, heat coconut oil, splutter mustard seeds, dry red chilly and sauté curry leaves for 30 seconds. To this add the ground coconut mixture and mix everything well and cook in medium heat for a minute, stirring occasionally. Now add the cooked pieces of Kadachakka/Breadfruit to this and gently mix everything together and let it sit in low heat for a minute or two. Do a taste- test, adjust the salt and turn off the stove
  • Serve with Kuthari Choru or  Kanji

Note: For Puzhukku, it is ideal to have a slightly overcooked Kadachakka/Breadfruit to get a mushy texture for the dish whereas in Thoran, you should make sure that Kadachakka/Breadfruit is just cooked till tender, to have a dry stir-fry texture.

Check out Cynthia's post on Breadfruit with some brilliant shots.

Related Posts:
Mashed Tapioca & Fish Curry Idichakka Thoran Chakkakkuru-Maanga curry Chakkakuru-Cheerathandu Avial Kanji & Payar


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  1. Thats one nostalgic post. I could relate to what is in the post.

    Never tried puzhukku with kadachakka. Waiting for the chakka to arrive in the market.

  2. The thoran looks so inviting...your dishes remind me of the trips to Kerala in the summer and all the delicious treats my grandmom made for us...

  3. ohhh shn!! that was too touching..almost made me cry!!
    even my parents tharavadu used to be so similar to wht u have written..but now nothing is left now!!
    i at times wonder wht childhood memories r v going to give to our future generation!!

  4. oh my god...u really made a painting for me with all those nostalgic words...reminded a bit about my childhood days...especially going for vacations to ancestral homes, swings, food, all cousins meeting up looks yummy...will give it a try when i get kadachakka!

  5. I love this puzhukku, mom used to serve sometimes with coconut chutney together with theis.

  6. Gud Writeup MishMash!!!pazhaya kaalathekku nalla oru yaatra aayirunnu......

  7. Hi,

    I was reading ur blog posts and found some of them to be very good.. u write well.. Why don't you popularize it more.. ur posts on ur blog ‘Mishmash !’ took my particular attention as some of them are interesting topics of mine too;

    BTW I help out some ex-IIMA guys who with another batch mate run where you can post links to your most loved blog-posts. Rambhai was the chaiwala at IIMA and it is a site where users can themselves share links to blog posts etc and other can find and vote on them. The best make it to the homepage!

    This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. :)


  8. Hi Mishmash
    Your story telling is just brilliant!
    My grandma used to prepare many dishes with kadachakka/bread fruit. Only last year I realized jack fruit/bread fruit/coconut etc not exclusive to Kerala( land of coconut).
    Actullay many Kerala dishes got origin from Jamaica/W.Indies, Hawaii and Thai land.
    kadachakka & Pork Varutharathu
    Kadachakka Thenga paal ittu vachathu
    kadachakka Thoran
    kadachackka varuthathu/chips
    Kadachakka& Mutton/beef (like kappa).
    kadachakka stew with boiled eggs.

    if you like I can give you recipes as well.

  9. The post was like watching Manichitrathazhu film !!

  10. I made this for RCI Kerala and LOVED it. So flavorful and so tasty. Looks great shn, enjoy! :)

  11. Lovely nostalgic reminded me of my wonderful childhood memories
    lovelier pic,so tempting..and loveliest recipe,just feel like digging in :-)

  12. That was such a beautiful peek into a Keralite home. How does Breadfruit look like, don't think I have ever had one.

  13. Reading this post I almost forgot the dish which was spread out coz i was put in a time machine just like I felt while reading Ann's post...I am just amazed how identical the memories are...esp the aprt with kozhikoodu and the parambu...For a kid who was brought up in the city going to the Parambu was an unique experience and i used to marvel at my cousins who used to be at ease with the climbing the trees and all..

    chakka...hmm...i think its more than a decade since i had Kadachakka that I have almost forgotten the taste..I dont want to say more on it coz am still stuck somewhere in the parambu..this post is dripping in nostalgia!! adipoli..

  14. btw honey bee yude karyam parayandei yaadhoru avushzavum illazirunnu..hmmph!!!!;-P

  15. the thoran looks soo inviting and reading your post made me soo very nostalgic.. wonder if we will get kadachakka here!! never tried anything by myself with that.

  16. Mish ..
    Enikku vayya ..Kadachakka thoran kandittu evide enikku irikkan pattunnilla..i love it ..and urs looks so delicious dear...Evide kittunna kdchakku nammude nattile taste onnum illa ...hmm nattil poyittu venam ethokke aswadichu kazhikkan ...


  17. halooooo kadachakka evidunnu kitteeee......

  18. Oh God u too in the nostalgic mood? I had lump in my throat in many places as I could so well identify with most of them. It's hard to digest that all those are memories now and those times won't come back ever again :(

  19. Oh my gosh honey, I have definitely, I mean most-definitely got to try this. Yours looks awesome! Thanks for this!

  20. Jayashree, hmm....I was living in the past for 3-4 days after reading Ann's post! It is very give a try :)

    Poornima, Thank you....happy to know that a short visit to this blog can take you down the memory lane :)

    Divz, sorry :) yeah, thats exachtly how Ann also ended her bothers me too...the responsibilty lies with us and the balance and decisions we make in life , to an extent , i guess!

    Resh, thank you! I think all of us will have a story about oonjal for sure :)

    Happy Cook, puzhukku with must be something...i think i might like that if chutney is a spicy one :)

    Zareena, enikku angane thanne aayirunnu...thx :)

    Ray, thx, but not interested!

    Jancy, Thanks! you re quite right about the kadachakka part....I heard my father saying it has its origins from W. Indies & Tahiti...and he also mentioned that it was earlier called kadal-chakka as it was imported via sea. Ofcourse, I would be privileged ifyou could share those recipes with me...I want everything except thoran and chips. I will surely try when i get some more kadachakka. Could you pls mail me at ? Thx again!

    Pramod, was a mini scale manichitrathazhu sans that big palace and split personalities...:))

    Asha, i checked ur post...what u made was a stirfry with tender green jackfruit....this is breadfruit...both are different but taste awesome...see if u can get frozen ones...some caribbean stores might carry fresh ones too, if u re lucky :)

    Alka, you sure can :) thx!

    Sandeepa, thx :) I have given a link at the end of the post...Cynthia's blog..she has got a couple of posts on the same.

    Mathew, Thanks so much:) parambu and polar bear have something in common...both face extinction....earlier, it was hard to see other houses from that parambu....but now if we sit at the verandah, all we can see is some concrete houses :( ellam aake maari poyee.....when i was a kid , there was not even a well paved road...we had to park our LML Vespa at the road side, at a friend's house and walk 2-3 minutes to achichan;s house , now veedinte munnil car nikkum!!! Btw, I would love to read about the stories of achayan uncles and honey bee, , cousins playing cricket, hopping on to the guava tree....with ur spark touch :)

    Superchef, thanks a lot :) You could try in some caribbean stores or frozen ones at the indian store itself.

    Veena, hmm....adutha pravashyam pokumbo chakka season nokki ticket edutha mathee....pokumbo 'fruitful' trip aakande :)

    Tina, frozen from a chiacgo store :)

    Dhanya, yeah...there was a tsunami of memories after reading her post...wanted to write it down before it fades from my memory....there is much more , enough to write a short story :P I hope yours is being shaped at the 'panippura' :)

    Cynthia, hope you enjoy this dish..i think u will like it :) Btw, will mail you soon.


  21. :) ohh this is something that is made quite often as home as we get kadachaka once in a while in chennai, i love this puzhuku second best after chakka puzhuku. :) ohh i used to take kadachakka puzhuku sandwhich to school :d

  22. Shn,
    very thoughtful to put this post and I really loved reading it...recently I went to my ancestral (paternal side) home and all the good old memories just flashed by ...this is a beautiful sneak into a typical joint the families have become nuclear and so sometimes we miss out those wonedrful times spent with cousins and uncles/aunts..
    I think I have seen Cynthia's post on breadfruit , till then I thought Jack fruit and bread fruit are same , but they look very similar na?
    hugs and smiles

  23. I simply adore your blog. In India I grew up next door to a family from Kerala. Vini Aunty did not speak Hindi very well and neither did my mother who is Iranian. They became the best of friends and developed their own language that other ladies in the neighborhood laughed at. They are still best friends after 18yrs. They both came from very beautiful places and they both missed home. They are both very wonderful and strong women. I would often (read: at least 5 times a week) eat at their house when I did not like what my mother cooked and aunty's kids did the same. Aunty had a passion for cooking which I have not seen in anyone else. She cooked with so much love and perfection. Her dishes were always accompanied by stories about her village in Kerala. I learned many important life skills from her including cooking. I had the good fortune of visiting her village two years back and I felt so very much at home. It felt like I had known the place forever. I knew all the Amommas,Valiammas, Valichans Chittas, Chettans and Chechis. Kerala and its people are so beautiful. Your nostalgic stories remind me of sitting in Aunty's kitchen and hearing stories about Kerala, her family, their superstitions and customs. I miss those days as I miss everything from my childhood. Thanks for refreshing my memory. By the way, I am taking my American husband to Vini Aunty's village for our belated honeymoon this year!!!!

  24. Ur post brought a forgotten link in our lives. Most of these comments have only one thing in common. That irrespective of the place they are in, all of them still remembers the one month vacation at their grandparents house. That attachment among cousins/aunts/uncles and undying love of our grandparents has kept this link still alive. Was just wondering will we able to pass on this love to the next generation. If we can do even a little it will make a lot of difference. I think this was ur best write up till date. Now ur post should add "Beware of Gurgling stomachs, Drooling mouths, appetising pictures with moist eyes and a heavy heart".

  25. I love your stories. In fact, I come here just as much to read your memories and relive my own, as to read your recipes and wish I was eating those dishes. Sigh!

  26. love puzhukku especially the chakka one.. reminds me of the thiruvathira day on dhanu that its really hard to get these stuff here we crave for it more..i thought breadfruit was called cheemachakka..guess i got it wrong..anyways gr8 recipe.thanks.

  27. Hey Mish, njanithu muzhuvan vayichu theernnilla ketto. will come back to read.. :)
    enthayalum kalakkiyittundu.. :)

  28. Vidya, now that you said I will try this as a sandwich....with some exotic sandwich spread, it would be tasty right ? :)

    Jaya, I wouldnt say similar....lets say they re cousins :) hmm...these days , it is hard to meet the entire family even if there is a marriage....!

    Sonia, wow! vini aunty and ur mother seems to be sharing a precious relationship! And through your lines I see how much of respect and love you have for her...and I am so glad that you could visit their village and get a first hand feel of our land and people...yeah Keralites are bascially very warm and loving people...Am sure your husband would love this trip...hope both of you can create memories for a life time . Thanks a lot for dropping by and sharing a piece of your story...glad to know that this blog helps you refresh your childhood memories..Thanks a lot and have a great time in Kerala :)

    Jisha, oops! I really don't deserve that much :) Thanks so much ! Yeah you re absolutely right, everyone had only one thing to write about...their grandparents and the days spent with our busy world, me too wonder how much we can give the next generation...but responsibilty lies with us, depends on the choices we make!

    Sunita, Thank you very much :)

    Malli, I have never had thiruvathira puzhukku....want to try that once...i am not sure but have a doubt that kadachakka and cheemachakka are the same..not sure though!

    Seena, tengz :)

  29. As always, I love reading your posts because it takes me back.:0 This post also reminds me that this is one of my husband's favourites and there's a tree across the road, laden with this fruit ready for the picking.:)


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