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Homemade Jackfruit Chips: A Flavourful Snack Straight from Nature

Summer and Kerala are a joyous combination. The heat may soar, but the anticipation for mangoes and jackfruits that blooms in the season never fades. When jackfruit starts to make its appearance, the home kitchens also prepare themselves to make a variety of delicacies made with it from snacks to sides and sweets. Jackfruit chips, also called chakka chips or chakka varuthathu in Malayalam, made with unripe jackfruit thinly sliced and fried in coconut oil is a favourite snack to many. When it comes to munchies, few products have the allure that jackfruit chips have. They are a beloved treat for many because of their crispy texture and delicious flavour. In this blog, we will explore the origin, flavour profile, preparation process, serving suggestions, and nutritional advantages of these popular chips made from Kerala, India's tropical treasure find. 

Kerala’s own delicacy 

Known as the "king of fruits," jackfruit is an incredibly versatile fruit mostly grown in the South and Southeast Asia. In India, the jackfruit season typically aligns with the summer and monsoon months, generally from March to June or July, varying slightly depending on the region. The fruit requires warm temperatures for optimal growth and typically needs a dry period for flowering followed by slight rain for the fruit to develop. In South India, especially Kerala, jackfruit blooms in abundance during these months. You can spot at least one jackfruit tree in most houses along with the other cultivated trees. In each tree, there are many jackfruits that grow which are consumed by that household in the form of chips, main course, accompaniments, chakka varattiyathu which typically is a sweet jam, or a steamed dish made with it called the Ada. It is also a fruit that’s shared with other people nurturing a culture of sharing and love. Not all jackfruits can be used to make the chips. There are many varieties of the fruit such as Koozha chakka (soft flesh bulb), thenvarikka (firm flesh bulb), idichakka, kadachakka which are used for different purposes and thenvarikka is the most preferred one for making the chips. 

This tropical fruit is hand-selected to make chips because of its big seeds encased in thick bulbs. The ripe sections of the fruit are carefully cut into thin slices, making sure that the seeds and fibrous inner sections are removed. These slices undergo a sun-drying process, eliminating excess moisture and preparing them for the final transformation into jackfruit chips. 

Prepared to perfection 

After the slices are carefully prepared, they are deep-fried in hot oil until they turn golden. Traditionally, chips are fried with coconut oil, which gives the chips a hint of its own tropical essence. And the outcome? A chip that captivates the palate with a balance of the natural sweetness of the fruit and a little hint of salt. The subtle crunchiness of the chips goes well with the combination of flavours, and easily satisfies the craving for having more.  

Versatile flavours and combinations 

Pairing jackfruit chips is an adventure in flavours. Their savoury-sweet taste makes them an excellent standalone snack, perfect for munching on lazy afternoons. They also complement various dishes splendidly, adding a crunch to salads or serving as a side to savoury curries and rice dishes. While the classic salted version remains a favourite, there are various flavours available, some enjoy them spiced with chilli for a fiery kick, while others savour the tanginess of a zesty seasoning. There are even sweet variations for those with a penchant for a sugary twist. 

Favourite seasonal snack 

Jackfruit is a seasonal fruit; hence it is more desirable because jackfruit chips lovers look forward to the season to have the best version of it.  The pleasure of enjoying these chips is enhanced by the excitement of its arrival during the peak time of year. Each mouthful is a treasured memory, a reminder of the fruit's abundance during its season, due to their uniqueness and link to the fruit's natural cycle. It’s also a pleasant nostalgia for people who have grown up eating them freshly made at home by their parents and grandparents. They offer a unique snacking experience with their exotic flavour profile. Moreover, they're a wholesome alternative to typical potato chips, carrying a natural sweetness without any artificial preservatives. 

A Wholesome Snack 

Aside from their delicious taste, jackfruit chips offer health benefits too. Fibre, which is abundant in jackfruit, is crucial for preserving digestive health. Consuming a diet rich in fibre can help lower cholesterol, minimize the risk of colon cancer, and prevent constipation. They are packed with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Potassium is necessary for controlling blood pressure and cardiac function, while vitamin C is crucial for preserving a strong immune system. Additionally, being a natural snack option, they are often lower in fat compared to traditional fried snacks. However, it is recommended to have it in moderation. One of the healthier ways of snacking is choosing jackfruit chips that are homemade which will ensure good quality ingredients and no reuse of oil. 

Their journey from the orchards to crispy perfection embodies the craftsmanship and love for good food. Whether you're reminiscing about Kerala's flavours or seeking a unique snacking experience, jackfruit chips are a delightful choice. Embrace the crunch, relish the taste, and savour the essence of this tropical delight.

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