Considered a minor fruit, it’s rare to come across people who are fond of it. I consider myself in the minority for being fond of anything sweet, including jackfruit. Most of my childhood and growing-up years having being spent in air force cantonments’ my love for fruits was encouraged, thanks to my father. I still remember him reaching home in bicycle with the front handle dangling with bags full of vegetables and fruits.
Come summer our kitchen had stocks of mangoes, preferably langda and dasheri, jackfruit, litchi and others. Every Sunday after the breakfast Babu would take his bicycle and leave for the market, five or six kms away and return before the noon set in. Spreading the vegetables, fruits and fish he would tell Ma how we had got the best deal. A poor bargainer, he got the best stuff, though paying a price for the same. “You’ve got to pay bit more if you want the best,” he would say.
He liked his visits to the bazaar and rarely asked Ma to do the shopping. I now realize that ‘going to the bazaar’ was sort of a stress-buster for Babu though such a word had yet to enter people’s vocabulary. In fact, when we visited our grandparents in their native village in West Bengal he would take us to the haat and introduce us to the ‘wonders of a village market’ things like sweetened puffed rice, sita bhog (a sweetmeat), palm jiggery, locally grown vegetables etc.
I was first introduced to jackfruits reaching to my waist. It was that big. I’m told that the size was due to the tree growing on the fertile sand of River Ganges. We had to hire the services of a man to carry it home. For a jackfruit costing Rs 10, Babu had to pay the man Rs 1 and an extra fifty paise for a packet of beedi.
I still remember when the ripe jackfruit was cracked open, it was full of pods or “bulb”. We were enveloped with a mouth-watering aroma. Regularly referred to as seeds, these bulbs are actually, kinds of fleshy covering over the true seeds or pits, which are round and dark like chestnuts. We enjoyed the sunshine yellow bulbs, holding it between our fingers and ultimately spitting the seeds which were later collected. Later in the evening Ma boiled the seeds and made a bhaji of it with potatoes. They tasted like chestnut.
As I grew older I came to know that jackfruit is a rich source of complex carbohydrate, dietary fiber, vitamins like A, C and certain B vitamins, and minerals like calcium, zinc, and phosphorous with high nutrition benefit in a seed. Jackfruit seed contain lignans, isoflavones, saponins, that are called phytonutrients and their health benefits are wide-ranging from anti-cancer to antihypertensive, anti-ageing, antioxidant, anti-ulcer, etc. Rich in potassium jackfruit is very functional when it comes to lowering blood pressure.
You may wonder why I’m writing all this.
Because my neighbouring farm owner, Vermaji, offered me a jackfruit which I brought home last Sunday. Sadly, the major part of the fruit had to be given away to friends, as my family members refused to touch it. In fact, my younger one moved to the next room and closed the door unable to bear the fruit’s smell. Didn’t I say that jackfruit doesn’t have much takers?
I’m regretting the fact that I’ve ek nahin char char (Not one but four) jackfruit trees on my farm. They will fruit in a year or two. You’re all invited to pick them up.