Chandrabhaga Jackfruit

The first time I heard of ‘Chandrabhaga’ was while listening to Bhimsen Joshi’s soulful rendition of the abhang Majhe Maher Pandhari, Aahe Bhiware cha teere…
River Bhima which flows through Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Telangana is renamed  as Chandrabhaga when it enters Pandharpur. On its banks is the famed Vitthal Temple. It’s so called as it is shaped like a half moon. Interestingly, it’s also known as Bhiware.
The second time I heard it was yesterday, when my dear friend Devidas Vaidya appeared in my office with a good-looking and a full of life jackfruit sapling and handing it over said: “This is the Chandrabhaga variety.”
Travelling with a sapling in a bus from Sirsi to Mumbai was a task in itself, as Vaidya recounted: “I boarded a sleeper coach bus and ensured that the sapling was standing and erect during the entire journey. I bought it from a nursery run by one NN Hegde of Krishi Bharati, who told me that it was a grafted one and if it snapped it would die. If it didn’t it would remain a seedling one.”
I googled the name but didn’t come across such a variety. “It’s a popular variety in the North Karnataka districts and I still remember my mother making kottae idli using it leaves,” said DV.
Kottae Idli is prepared by putting the dough in a receptacle made of green Chandrabhaga leaves and then steamed. It is then served with a dish made of sprouted moong.
As I recounted the story of the sapling wifey remarked: “A new task. Now I’ve to learn to make kottae idli.”

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