Food, India

Jackfruit truffle! :)

Cooking at home is one of the best ways to spend time with oneself and with others in the family. On the lines of the saying β€˜Family that prays together stays together’, I feel it is more apt to say that a family that cooks together and/or eats together stays together 😊 – especially in this challenging time of the pandemic. Cooking and/or eating tropical fruits/vegetables takes me down through memory lane. It brings back memories of my childhood with grandparents and cousins.

Not a summer passes without getting to taste the two exotic tropical fruits – mango and jackfruit. Despite being in a big city, mangoes we have aplenty – on pushcarts, supermarkets, organic stores and on roadsides too. Although the jackfruit seems to be elusive most of the time, we manage to get hold of one jackfruit every summer. This year too we got lucky and got one jackfruit from a known source. We were quick to clean and devour the delicious fruit and this time I decided to make good use of the seeds as well. I found a recipe was a dessert recipe instead of the usual stir-fry/curry recipe.

Known to be packed with healthy nutrients which provide remarkable benefits, I quickly took to the chore of cleaning up the seeds. Firstly, they need to be dried well before cleaning as they are very slippery and hence would be difficult to handle. I kept it out to dry in direct sunlight for a couple of days. Once it dried completely, the outer covering which is whitish was easy to peel off. Then what remains are seeds with a thin brown skin. I used a knife to scrape out most of the skin. Some prefer to use the seeds as it is. I prefer to scrape the skin. The recipe I was going to follow was, to present the powdered jackfruit seeds as a truffle. I was certain that my kids would find it appealing as they, like most kids are influenced by western dishes.

So after lightly scraping off the thin brown skin I toasted the seeds on the stove till the nutty aroma wafted around and the seeds started spluttering. One of my friends mentioned that in the traditional kitchens of Kerala these seeds would be toasted directly in the firewood stove and that would have a better aroma and taste as compared to the same procedure done in the modern kitchens. I did reminisce those days when I would watch and sometimes help my grandma to ignite and kindle the flame in her firewood stove using a thin long cylindrical hollow rod.

Then after I allowed it to cool a bit, I powdered the toasted seeds in a mixer. Next step was to make the caramel sauce which would help to bind and shape the powdered seeds into a laddoo. For this I melted the required amount of sugar with a little water and waited for the sugar to caramelize. Once the sugar started to caramelize, I added heavy cream and mixed it well and poured this delicious sauce to the powdered seeds and shaped the mixture into laddoos.

Now I just poured melted chocolate onto the nutrient packed laddoos and voila! It turned into a truffle. The seeds of an Indian fruit shaped into an Indian sweet and disguised as a western one was an instant hit.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process of making this jackfruit seed truffle. My kid’s approval of the dish in disguise indeed has motivated me to bring in more such recipes and has further deepened my passion for cooking. Looking forward to my next tryst with the jackfruit πŸ˜‰.

– This is a guest post by Dahlia Joseph!

Food, India, Musings

How do you manage?

She was set to cook for the day. As usual, the same thoughts were running through her head. What will she make for breakfast, lunch and dinner today? As with most women and mothers, it was the same perplexing question everyday and it was the same puzzle every morning. If she didn’t have the mind map for the food menu for the upcoming week.. it was a much more exhausting time in the kitchen.

What to cook? What to cook? was the thought that was constantly running through her head again that morning too.

She was amazed by the gazillions of drool worthy Instagram food pics and YouTube videos but could never make one such video or post! She was unfortunately one of the few people, who could never cook with that kind of passion or skill. She was amazed at the whole world’s culinary skills too. Her idea of kitchen was to be in and out of the kitchen ASAP!!

Kitchen shortcuts:

Being in the US for a long time taught her a lot of kitchen hacks. For all the glamour of staying in the US, there was/is no maid and no cook in the US – only machines and kitchen hacks rescued her.

Anything that was a paste or powder was welcomed by her!! :)(call it lazy or taking shortcuts, that is the way she was!! :))

For Tamarind rice – get the powder or paste

For Pasta sauce – get the sauce from store

For all the variety of biriyanis – just use the store bought biriyani powder

For garam masala and other powders – don’t go nuts making them all at home – just use the store bought ones!! πŸ™‚

Ginger garlic paste – just buy from store

Small onions are supposed to add an awesome taste to South Indian dishes. But peeling them and dicing them was another work altogether. Her idea of working with the cumbersome products such as small onions was to avoid them altogether and stick with big onions entirely!! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ ( and hers was quite an understanding family except for one member whom she had to cajole every now and then!! :))

Now, being from a Tamil family(a state in South India) there was always one magic ingredient that was needed in everyday cooking. Families from South India couldn’t imagine cooking without this lovely ingredient. Most families except for hers used this produce lavishly in their everyday cooking!! πŸ™‚ And most in South India cannot bear to think of any shortcuts with this produce either – it had to be extracted from scratch and used. Chutneys, gravies and almost every dish on the table needed this product.

What was this magical ingredient, you may wonder or some of you may have guessed it as well… but of course, it is the ever trending COCONUT!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

COCONUT:

Families, in South India go through an average of 3-4 coconuts per week and this is just an average…many families may consume more!! Now, coconut breaking and scraping is not very easy for the amateur. With time, one acquires the skill to do it fast and with finesse. It is definitely quite a ritual for most families from Southern states to start the day with breaking and scraping the coconut. It then makes its way into different dishes to create an absolutely magical concoction!! πŸ™‚

Most families cannot even think of a dish without this ingredient. Now, how does the lady in our story manage the star ingredient in her house? πŸ™‚ It is just simple – she avoids it altogether for as long as possible and thinks of innovative ways to manage the kitchen without it!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

She had enough cooking ideas which enabled her to procure the coconut for only one day a week!! (can her Tamilian friends imagine that?!! :)) She had always been asked how she manages without the magical coconut in everyday cooking and she would only respond with a smile…and rattle off her secret recipes without involving coconut πŸ™‚ – all the rice varieties, pasta, noodles, tomato chutney, sambhar and more. Believe me, there are plenty of recipes in the South Indian domain that do not need the humble coconut!! πŸ™‚

So, what do you think? How many coconuts do you need on an average per week? Can you manage without it? Can you give some more kitchen hacks for this lady to reduce her time in the kitchen so that she can write more? πŸ™‚

Β Culnilarly yours πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚