Steamed rice cake with Jack fruit jam.
When I went home last time, my mother made these tasty dumplings with jack fruit preserve and rice flour. As Mother’s day is approaching I thought of posting my mother’s Kumbilappam. This is a tasty dessert and every one in Kerala is familiar with this sweet treat.
While preparing I was hovering around trying to help my mother. Our working style is totally different. She likes to work in a flash and finish everything in less time. I like to go slow and look into details. I was sniffing Edanaila, the leaf used for its delicate smell and used as a wrapper for the dough. Then I washed it, after carefully checking for insect damage or leaf spots. My mother lost her patience and grabbed the leaves, stuffed the filling and stacked them for steaming. She was mad at me for wasting her time and said she could have finished much earlier without my assistance. That made me really bitter and I left the kitchen. She made quite a lot because in her village there are many impromptu visitors. After it was ready, I forgot my annoyance and greedily gobbled a fair share. It tasted extra delicious! Happy Mother’s Day, mommy!
These are young fruits on a Jack fruit tree. When they are ready they are quite big according to the variety. Chakka is the name for Jack fruit in Malayalam. It ripens in hot summer months and my mother makes a lot of jam and stores it. We attack the refrigerator when we reach home and spread it on bread, idly, chappati and whatever we can lay our hands on. My aunt has a special variety of tree that produce honey sweet, fruits called thenvarikka.
Jack fruit preserve/jam is the main ingredient in this dumpling. It is quite a task to make the jam as Jack fruit has a sticky secretion and it is very messy when removing the individual flesh from the large spiny fruit. We smear our hands with oil to prevent the white goop from sticking everywhere. Extra hands are always welcome to make the task easier.
This steamed dumpling is a special treat made using a leaf called Vazhana ila or Edana ila. Ila means leaf that is used to wrap and it is not eaten. Theses leaves have a particular spicy smell like cinnamon and bay leaves and widely grown in Kerala. When food is cooked in this leaf it imparts a unique flavour.
Ingredients for the jam/preserve
- 3 cups chopped Jack fruit flesh
- 1 cup jaggery/brown sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- Cut the fruit and after separating the individual fruit flesh, remove the seeds.
- Then chop them into smaller bits.
- Cook it in a little water and add jaggery.
- Allow some water to evaporate and stir until it becomes a thick jam.
- Add cardamom powder and ghee and stir well.
- This preserve can be stored for a long time in sealed containers.
(This is a recipe that I made earlier.)
Ingredients for Jack fruit dumpling
- 1 cup rice flour
- ½ cup grated coconut
- 1½ cup Jack fruit jam
- a pinch salt
- few Vazhanaila or banana leaf
- Mix rice flour, salt, jack fruit jam and coconut.
- Sprinkle some water if needed to make a soft dough.
- Make a cone with Vazhanaila/banana leaf and fill it with the rice mixture.
- Fold the top and pin it with a coconut tree stick or tooth pick. If using banana leaf fold a piece of the leaf like a triangle.
- Steam it in a pan using a steaming plate or bamboo steamer.
- Cook for 20 minutes and check with a stick to find if the center is cooked.
- If it is raw in the middle, continue cooking.
- When cooked, remove from pan and cool.
- Open the leaf and enjoy the delicate aroma of the leaf and heady smell of jack fruit dumpling.
Jack fruit dumpling is a simple preparation and the essence of Kerala because Jack fruit is the state fruit. This is my take on this classic dessert. I made 10 dumplings with my ingredients and steamed them wrapped in banana leaf. If the jam is ready the process is quite simple. I had store bought chakka preserve (Jack fruit jam).