Amidst all the furore that the unleash of coronavirus is generating, the world is seeing the tables turning at such mind boggling a pace that yet again ridicules our seemingly facile existence. From imposed quarantines to self isolation mechanisms at work, lives have been disrupted, not to mention also how unfortunate lives have been lost. This disruption however is not just limited to the social spectrum of existence. In every lifestyle encompassment, coronavirus has managed to terrorise all with its unbelievable reach. From compelling humans to almost shun their ‘reputation’ as social beings to deriding every speck of superior ego forever emanating from us boastful beings, the chronicles of the coronavirus is as frightening as the virus itself.
A very ironic impact that the coronavirus has been causing, particularly in India, is that even the most hardcore meat lovers are alarmed by the pandemic enough to abstain altogether from their forever love even when experts are in fact favouring the non veg diet. But as the panic persists and people continue to shun the flesh, what has gained mainstream steam is the unintended but necessary prioritisation of health.
The emergence of the enormous!
Out of all this emergent mess is a somewhat positive that the palate can dwell on- of turning to flavors more diverse yet no less delicious so that our forever love affair with food sustains on its mighty premise of living for the thrill of the tastebuds!
Well, for many foodie souls it indeed is those morsels of taste that make the world go round and round. People for whom the only essence of life is taste but again life calls for shunning of some, at least as some caution for the future, it would indeed be unfair to have them giving up on guilty pleasures and indulgences altogether. And indeed, there’s no reason to as well. Specially when you happen to belong to this land of flavours, where every part appeals uniquely to your every taste, you can rest in assurance that your life will never be anything but flavorful!
The Indian context
In the current context the superfood relishing its ultimate moment of realisation is the wonder fruit jackfruit. A forever phenomenon in the purview of Indian cuisine, held in high esteem by vegetarians and non vegetarians alike who have been lucky enough to taste its immense deliciousness and benefits, this humble fruit is a real and rare complete package. In its edible essence arising from its flesh to its seeds to even its core that makes for a local delicacy, jackfruits are dubbed a miracle. And there are more instances than the current coronavirus crisis which has already put the jackfruit on the wagon of being the latest wonder in the food frontier.
In India however, jackfruits has been a long cherished tale. Specifically in the eastern and southern parts of the country, the very mention of the fruit brings along lingering fragrances of nostalgia. And it indeed is an event- the whole cutting open of the jackfruit because the fruit is as gargantuan a task to undertake as it is in size. And while jackfruits are edible even when raw, there’s something exotic about a rich, ripe jackfruit that commands a special presence in the whole lexicon of the Indian food fold. Be it the wafting smell (somewhat overbearing for noses not accustomed to it) that hits you right in your olfactory or the fleshy, vibrant premise resting within its gigantic heart and the sight of even the seeds that make for divine delectables when cooked, tearing a jackfruit apart is no ordinary deal!
And it isn’t merely the show, the ‘foreplay’ itself is no less demanding. From marking the territory with some paper spread to prepare for the jackfruit leaving its sticky essence, to skillfully oiling the knife that will open up a whole world of deliciousness and of course oiling the welders of the weapon to arousing a whole nation of attention, you know the starry airs that the fruit commands in this part of the world!
The spiky fruit arrives thereafter, from under the ‘covers’ where it has been enjoying its period of resting thereon, in characteristic fashion even as anticipating eyes usher and deft hands grasp the meaty delight, in preparation for its absolute annihilation. That sounds like too much of superficial drama we might be creating out of something which is mere fruit cutting for the rest of the world but that indeed what Indians are compliant of in all their wonder of the unsightly but immensely appealing fruit.
Summers in India are incomplete without a taste of the giant or at least without some colossal crooking of the nose inspired by its domineering smell. The fruit also has a texture that is dense in its fibrous content, making for quite a filling treat. It also is quite a task to eat it right as well- perplexing as it may sound, in its compactness the jackfruit tends to be somewhat difficult to chew in and swallow. Not to brag or anything, but perhaps Indians have mastered even this ‘complex’ art- as we would like to classify it as- for every jackfruit season we indeed have at least one giant being teared open right there in our homes for us to therefore partake of its fruity flavor!
The versatility of the jackfruit
Native to the Western Ghats of the country and also prominently stemming up from quite some other regions, the jackfruit has come to be recognised as a superfood. It however helps that with its immense nutritional content, the jackfruit is also as versatile a fare on the table. Have the raw variant cooked as veggies or relish them as a fruit, or even better spread some jackfruit jam on your bread for a healthy, hearty breakfast (go a step further and make it brown bread, just saying!) and if you are in the mood for snacking, try some jackfruit chips instead!
If however Indian is your pure preference, stick to sweet jackfruit pakoras or savoury koftas. There can be jackfruit halwa as well while equally popular is kathal biryani- an interpretation of the emotion called biryani in its most exotic variant! Not to forget the absolute summer fruit to inevitably have some scrumptious ice cream churned out of it!
For lovers of the fruit who crave it even off season, you can as well pickle some of the flesh or even the seeds- that are an altogether different wonder within themselves. While they can well go into sabzis and dals or even make for a toasted or fried side dish, there’s another interesting aspect to them. Jackfruit seeds apparently can be powdered to work as something like a light coffee! Now that’s what we call versatility and if you aren’t as adaptable as a jackfruit, sorry we ain’t want anything to have to do with you!
The fusion of flavor
So what makes the jackfruit so popular and so irresistible a food that people are happily embracing it in lieu of their chickens and lambs and muttons in the present scenario? Well while the ripe bulbs of the fruit indeed are delicious, we are here more concerned with the veggie essence of it.
The immense happy adherence to the jackfruit as a sabzi lies in its texture and taste. While the fibrous texture easily gives off the impression of tearing into meat, it is indeed mindblowing that the flavour also is one that is reminiscient of meat dishes! Just add the right masalas and have the most adept hands prepare a bowl for you and there you are- right into non veg heaven while still being a vegan! Cook it in chunks or in shreds and trust its neutral flavor to take the meaty tone with the incorporation of the same spices as you bless your meat curries with. And ta- da, there you are with your bowl of goodness with all taste, aroma and flavours appeasing your meatie soul all intact!
Benefits of jackfruit
Even with its relative low play on the world radar and equivalently high standing in pungency, the jackfruit is a storehouse of nutritional benefits. You might be someone who loathe it everytime the fruit finds its way into the fridge lingering with its strong smell on all things therein or you could be someone for whom jackfruits are their reason to love the summers. But it does not matter as long as you eat them seasonally for you to reap its numerous benefits.
In its dense fibrous essence, jackfruit is one of those foods that aid in digestion and prevent constipation. Also in it being a rich source of many nutrients and bad source of calories as also in its fibre content, jackfruits are filling and therefore can be a helpful weight loss agent.
The many phytonutrients in jackfruit also help it in being a food that can ward off cancer. Also with such anticancer compounds like carotenoids, the fruit can be helpful against the dreaded disease by fighting off cancerous cells. Even jackfruit seed extracts can be a vital cancer remedy in the future.
Lowers blood pressure
The potassium content of jackfruit helps also in lowering blood pressure which is a benefit also attributable to its low sodium presence. By helping the blood vessels relax, jackfruit proves to be beneficial for people with low blood pressure.
Improves heart health
The potassium of jackfruit as also its fibrous content may also bode well for your heart, by improving blood flow and promoting a better circulatory system. Additionally, jackfruit seeds also have been found to reduce effects of bad cholesterol, further promoting heart health.
Apart from helping fight other medical conditions, jackfruits also can improve your immunity with its nutritional content. With moderate levels of vitamin C and manganese as well as other antioxidants, the fruit contributes to a healthy immune system and also helps in healing of wounds with its antibacterial, anti fungal and anti- inflammatory properties.
Source of energy
Jackfruit also provides your body with energy with its complex carbs while not spiking your blood sugar levels to alarming extent. The moderate ranking of jackfruit on the glycemic index and its adequate hoarding of B vitamin is what makes this superfood the wonder it is.
Good for eyes
Jackfruit also is rich in Vitamin A and beta carotene which are compounds essential for healthy eyes and a better vision.
Improves skin and hair
The vitamin C of jackfruits as also their adequate water content helps also with your beauty as it can improve skin and hair health. Antioxidants slow the ageing process while vitamin A levels helps keep hair mositurized.
Promotes bone health
The adequate calcium content of jackfruits spells good for bone health while the vitamin C and magnesium helps in better absorption of calcium thus ensuring adequate benefits for your bones to stay sturdy.
Helps cure insomnia
Can treat asthma
Jackfruit’s free radical elimination properties also means it can be beneficial for those with asthmatic conditions.
Promotes thyroid health
Jackfruit is also rich in copper which not only promotes a healthy thyroid but also helps in improving blood quality.
The world wide wonder!
Jackfruits aren’t good just for you, they are good for the world too. As a plant that does not demand much upbringing and care, the fruit is a lesser exertion on the planet we are already exploiting much. An efficient global food source and one that ensures food wastage is not so adhered to, in its all encompassing edible essence, jackfruits are more than just a superfruit. An easy to cultivate crop that also has an abundant yield- isn’t jackfruit almost like the savior we all need in the times of corona?!