Chakka Varatti is a ripe jackfruit preserve from the state of Kerala. Let me share with you today how we make this wonderful confection at home.
Jackfruit is in season right now, and there are some pretty good ones to be found in the markets. Now is the perfect time to make Chakka Varatti – if you haven’t already been introduced to this beauty yet, you should do the honours right away. 😊 Ready-to-use Chakka Varatti is readily available in stores these days, at least in Kerala, but there’s nothing that comes close to the freshly made home-made version.
Of summer traditions and jackfruit
At our place, it is somewhat of a family tradition to get a whole ripe jackfruit home every summer. All of us gather around as the husband cuts open the fruit and separates the kernels, then we chat about everything under the sun as we remove the seeds. Faces are stuffed with jackfruit, some is distributed among friends and neighbours, and the balance goes into making things like chips and Chakka Varatti. The seeds are carefully preserved to make summer specials like Palakottai Sambar or poriyal.
On the way back home from our stay at Savi Farms recently, we stopped at a farmer’s market in a neighbouring village to scout for fresh produce. We came across a beautiful ripe jackfruit that was just the right size, and we simply could not leave without it. We cut it open when the heady scent of its ripeness started permeating the house, and used some of the gorgeous fruit to make Chakka Varatti.
What is Chakka Varatti?
I would say the best way to describe Chakka Varatti is that it is a cross between jackfruit jam and halwa. It is neither a jam nor a halwa completely, but an in-between dish, an utterly sinful and delectable one at that.
Kernels of ripe jackfruit are de-seeded, ground to an almost-puree, and cooked with jaggery till it attains a thick jam-like consistency. It is finished off with a drizzle of ghee.
If you are like the husband and me and adore jackfruit, Chakka Varatti is something you will love too. Fragrant with ghee and the tropical fruit, you can simply eat Chakka Varatti by the spoonful. You can also store it in your refrigerator, and use it to make delicacies like payasam and elai adai whenever you please.
How to make Chakka Varatti
Here is how to go about it.
Ingredients (makes about 2 cups):
1. 2 heaped cups ripe jackfruit kernels
2. 2 levelled cups jaggery or as per taste
3. 4-5 tablespoons ghee
4. 3/4 teaspoon dry ginger powder (sukku podi)
5. 3/4 teaspoon cardamom (elaichi/elakka) powder
1. Remove seeds from the jackfruit kernels. Also remove any fibres.
2. Chop up the jackfruit roughly.
3. Transfer the chopped jackfruit to a mixer jar and grind to a paste.
4. Take the jaggery in a heavy-bottomed pan, along with 2 cups of water. Place on high heat.
5. Stirring intermittently, allow the jaggery to get completely melted in the water. Let the jaggery mixture come to a rolling boil. Let the mixture cook on high heat for 4-5 minutes, for it to get slightly thicker and sticky. Stir intermittently.
6. At this stage, reduce the flame to medium. Add the jackfruit paste to the pan.
7. Mix well, making sure the jackfruit paste and jaggery mixture are well combined together.
8. Now, turn the flame down to low-medium. Cook the mixture on low-medium flame for 15-20 minutes, stirring intermittently. By this time, it will start to thicken nicely.
9. When the mixture has thickened considerably but is still on the runnier side, add in the ghee. Mix well. Cook for a minute more, then switch off gas.
10. Add in the dry ginger powder and cardamom powder. Mix well. Your Chakka Varatti is ready.
11. Allow the Chakka Varatti to cool down completely, then transfer to a cool, dry, air-tight bottle. Store refrigerated and use as required.
Tips & Tricks
1. For best results, use ripe and sweet jackfruit kernels which are not too fibrous.
2. Adjust the quantity of jaggery you use, depending upon the sweetness of the jackfruit and personal taste preferences. The colour of the Chakka Varatti will depend upon the type of jaggery you use.
3. Do not overcook the Chakka Varatti, otherwise it will become rock hard. Remember that it will thicken further even after you stop cooking it.
4. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to cook the Chakka Varatti. Remember to cook on medium and low-medium flame only.
5. Do not skimp on the ghee. It acts as a natural preservative, keeping the Chakka Varatti well for a longer time.
6. Pieces of coconut and cashewnuts can be fried in ghee and added to the Chakka Varatti, after it has been cooked. This gives it the effect of a halwa, but it is totally optional.
7. You may skip adding the dry ginger powder and cardamom powder, but I would highly recommend using them. These spices cut through the intense sweetness of the Chakka Varatti and make it taste very flavourful. Adjust the quantities of these spices as per personal taste preferences.
8. When refrigerated and used with a clean, dry spoon, the Chakka Varatti stays well for 2-3 months.
9. Do not use any water while grinding the jackfruit. The puree will not be completely smooth – some bits and pieces will remain – and that is fine. In fact, these little pieces will add texture to the Chakka Varatti.
10. There’s no need to get the jaggery and water mixture to a syrup consistency. Just cook if till it is slightly sticky and thicker – 4-5 minutes of rolling boil is good enough.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!