The most flavorful fruit scented payasam served for special occasions and Kerala sadyas/feasts which has the perfect combination of caramelized jackfruit, jaggery and ghee.
Thanks to the land constraints of the city and already spread out mango tree, gauva tree n of course all my coconut trees no other species had space to grow in our little yard. I always wanted a jackfruit tree at our place but unlike other fruits this one needs constant cleaning up when ripe or it was enough to fall on someone and surely make them invalid was mom's valid argument. :)) But why own a tree when there was endless supply from near and dear in all stages. Mom's best friend A aunty would take an auto rickshaw and bring the bounty for me from another end of the town every year. Can u imagine how pampered I was and how much trouble people took to make me smile! Where ever u angels are I would like to say I am ever grateful to you.
Every time I would be at our ancestral home I would make up for all that. Esp during chakka season I would be already on a literal chakka induced headache on the first day itself. Mom's aunt would come and warn me every now and then saying"Meena, the chakka will not run away, don't over eat and fall sick." Ya I tend to overeat all the time... are u reminded of the Malayalam proverb on chakka ya true to some extend :)) more over eating stories here.
In small kalavara (room where harvest is stored not grains) in those days there used to be all kinds of farm fresh edibles like raw groundnut in shell, nongu (palm fruit- ice apple) mangoes, puli/tamarind in pods, occasionally nellikka, chambakka (water apple) guava etc Everything had a time to be served according to ripeness quantity etc...Well this kiddoo was not cut for those rules :))
Come on ...how do you stay away from sneaking in and not try some of them atleast :)) Best time was at around two in the afternoon when the older folks would go for afternoon nap (ucha mayakam) and the sun would light up the room well through the single glass tile on the roof. The room is pitch dark at any time of the day otherwise. Due to old wiring system many light points were connected being from the varandah to the room so switching on the bulb is tricky u know :) the old heavy wooden doors creaking and large iron chain handles rattling did not help either :))
For a long time I was so against chakka varatti being used for payasam. It didnot make sense to me...whats the logic of cooking a fruit until dry for hours and make it thick then one fine day dilute it to make it runny. What happens to all the effort behind in making the preserve? Then one day it dawned that its preserving the fruit for special occasion that falls off season and enjoy it in the most deliccccccious payasam form year round. Still makes sense only taste wise but not work wise. Why don't we have whats in season then ? :))
Ingredients: serves 4 - 5
Chakka varatti/ Jackfruit preserve - 1/4 kg or more (see notes if using fresh fruit)
Jaggery - 150 gms + (as per sweetness required)
Ghee- 2-3 tsp
Cardamom powder - 3 -4 freshly powdered
Dry ginger powder - 1/3 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1/3 tsp (dry roasted and powdered)
Coconut slices- cut into bite size square bits( not used here)
Coconut milk - (see notes on how to extract coconut milk)
1st extracted milk - 1 cup
2 nd extracted milk - 1 cup
a 14 oz tin of canned coconut milk.
1. Heat half cup of water in a pan and add jaggery let it melt completely. Sieve it through a fine steel mess or sieve to remove impurities if any.Keep aside.
2. Heat a wide mouthed heavy bottom pot. Heat ghee in the pan and fry the raisins when it puffs up remove and keep aside add cashew nut fry till light brown remove then fry the coconut bits it pale yellow color.(don't brown it too much) Remove and keep aside.
In the same pot add the chakka varatti diluted jaggery and mix slowly until no lumps remain and let it begin to boil in low to medium heat (on high heat the bottom will burn) allow the mixture to thicken slightly then add the 2nd coconut milk
3. Keep stirring and let it boil well and thicken slightly now add the freshly squeezed thick 1 st coconut milk or if tinned the remaining in it. Add the cardamom powder,dry ginger powder and cumin powder keep stirring and wait for it to warm up immediately switch off flame and remove from stove.
4.Add the nuts raisins and coconut bits on top. Keep it covered until served. Mix well before serving.The more it rests the thicker the payasam becomes.
Serve warm for best tasting chakka payasam / pradhaman. Chilling in fridge and serving may result in thicker consistency.
If you are using ripe jackfruit (20 -30 pieces)simply cut the fruit into tiny pieces grind them in blender and saute in few tsps of ghee until the paste thickens and leaves sides then add jaggery (add more than given here to get deep brown payasam I am using chakka varatti which already contains a good amount of jaggery) and continue with same recipe
If you are using fresh coconut milk: (Use fresh for best results)
Grate 1 full medium sized coconut and beat it in blender once adding half glass water then pour 1/2 cup boiling hot water into it set aside for few minutes then squeeze out the milk by pressing the coconut with ur lovely hands(or use the healthiest person's help here :) that gives u around 1 cup milk which is first extract. Reserve the coconut for 2 nd extract.
For 2 nd extratced milk pour another cup of hot water into the same grated coconut squeeze again well.Discard the coconut use only liquid . 2 nd milk is more diluted and will prevent the payasam from curdling)
If using tinned coconut milk dilute 2 tbsp of it with 1 glass water for 2 nd extract and use remaining as 1 st extract
add more water to adjust consistency of payasam if using canned one.
The fruit preserve/varatti already has a good amount of jaggery so adjust accordingly.
The brown jaggery is traditionally used in the payasam .The darker the color the better it is considered. Coconut milk also affects the color and consistency of the payasam so do not make pradhaman look too whitish with liberal use of it.
U may add cooked sago/chovari or rice flour/ari podi (diluted in little water) for thickness towards the end of cooking if u think the payasam has become too much runny.