Sunday, April 25, 2010

Breadfruit (Jeev Kadgi/ Neer Phanas) - An Essay

Breadfruit is a green, round species primarily belonging to the Mulberry family. The bark or the surface area of the fruit (Saali in Konkani) has hexagonal like structures. The fruit finds wide prominence and grows in abundance in Tropical region with good amount of rainfall and sunlight.

Breadfruit is known as Jeev Kadgi/ Jee Gujji in Konkani and Neer Phanas in Marathi. The leaves of the tree are wide spread, and grow upto 20-25 metres in height. The fruit of the tree is a most sought after one. The fruit has a starch content and can be roasted, baked, boiled, fried or deep fried depending on preference. The more fresh and young the Breadfruit the better the taste and flavour.

Some of my friends prefer eating the Breadfruit on Mondays and Thursdays when the diet is vegetarian in nature (Shivraag in Konkani). Cutting and chopping the fruit is a little tedious task. The knife needs to be well oiled, some oil applied on the palm before beginning the cutting process. This is to prevent the sticky milk of the fruit (called as Deek in Konkani) clinging to the hands while chopping the fruit. The bark is gently chipped off to find the white, soft meat of the fruit. The central core which is a thin tall membrane (Pith) called as Geeru in Konkani is extracted and discarded. Rest of the fruit is cut into desired shapes and sizes and used as per choice.

My mom makes quite a lot of dishes from Breadfruit. Few which I wish to mention are - Breadfruit Fritters (Jeev Kadgi Phodi), Breadfruit Side Dish (Jeev Kadgi Upkari), Breadfruit Chickpea Curry in Coconut sauce (Jeev Kadgi Chane Soyi Bhajili Ghashi).

Breadfruit if stored, stay good for a week upon refrigeration. The fresher the Breadfruit, the better the taste and flavour. The Breadfruit can be found in huge numbers in tropical areas of Asia and Carribean regions. Couple of my cousins have huge Breadfruit trees in their backyard and I have fond memories of Breadfruit picking activity which we used to participate during summer. The fruit of the tree is an adored one and is a staple food in many a tropical regions across the globe.

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