Despite living my whole life in the ‘City of dreams’, a strong connection with the ‘God’s own country’, my native land, still prevails. Although such a connection is quite evident from basic elements like language, the most prominent impact is seen when it comes to food. Any international cuisine from the best chefs in the world can only be ranked second to the ‘sadya’ (feast) served on the banana leaf. Such is the nature and obviously the taste of Kerala food. While there are numerous dishes emphasising the plethora of the Kerala cuisine, personal preferences still exist. And among such preferences lies the undisputed King of gravies- ‘The Jack Fruit Sambar.’
Jackfruit, which forms the essence of this beautiful work of culinary, is an interesting fruit. I call it interesting not solely considering the variety of ways in which it can be consumed- directly as the fruit or as a jam popularly known in Malayalam as ‘chakka varattiyathu’ or in the form of the jackfruit sambar. While the variety of ways in which it can be consumed definitely contributes to the tag I give it, I call it so, mainly considering the manner in which it must be cut for consumption.
In modern times, the cutting is done through any common knife we find in the kitchen. The traditional approach however is definitely better. A knife vertically mounted over a wooden board comprises the jackfruit cutting equipment. The fruit is systematically passed through the knife to slice it. Considering the size of the fruit, it is initially sliced into two by passing it horizontally through the vertical knife. This step is again followed with the two halves to reduce them to four quarters. Each quarter is now further reduced to smaller parts. The rind is separated through a similar process and the seeds are removed to render the jackfruit ready to be eaten or cooked.
One may feel what is so interesting about these straightforward steps. One won’t, if one has ever cut or at least witnessed someone else cut the fruit.
The Jackfruit contains a thick layer of latex on its inner side. The challenge aggravates as this layer is not only thick but extremely sticky. A knife if passed through a jackfruit would definitely cut it but the latex remains stuck to it. It becomes extremely difficult to get the latex off the knife. Not only does cleaning the knife becomes a tedious challenge, it can no longer be used for other items as despite the best of efforts, some part of the secreted latex stays back on the knife. Not to forget mentioning the fact that the latex also prevents the smooth flow of the knife through the fruit thereby leading to further problems. If this sounds a great problem, one would definitely not want one’s hands to get sticky, cleaning which would be an equally tedious job. At the same time, the remains would be even more undesirable.
Every problem has a solution and so does this. The best part about nature is she herself provides us with solutions to the challenges she offers. We only need to identify them correctly. A jackfruit problem is resolved with a coconut solution.
In order to avoid the latex from sticking, coconut oil is applied to the hands and knife. While this does not completely prevent the latex from sticking, it greatly reduces the amount as well as the stickiness. Moreover, cleaning also becomes easier.
Our world too is just like the jackfruit; filled with the latex of delusional clinging and desire motivated thoughts and actions which obstruct the smooth flow of the knife of our lives. It all depends on how well we lubricate ourselves with the oil of wisdom that determines the fruit we reap.
And just as you reap your fruit, don’t forget to sow the seeds too.