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Jackfruit (sometimes written jak) or kos has traversed the life, history and culture of the Lankans for several centuries. Rich in several disease-preventing properties, jackfruit is considered a “superfood” in many Western countries. The tree that bears this largest tree fruit which has nourished our people in hard times is revered as buth gaha. However, the full potential of this wonderful fruit that we find in abundance is still not exploited with us.


Jackfruit or kos my childhood prep days weren’t about cooking another curry for lunch or grabbing an ‘instant’ bag of pods or kos madulu a seller; it was a half-day endeavor, almost a ritual. In my grandparents’ sprawling garden, I watched a servant pick a fruit from a jak and pull it out. Magiline achchci who would protect his proven recipes almost with his life would then take over, crouching in front of the giant fruit ready for the great task ahead. It would take a good hour or two to clean the yellow bulbs of koholle (the sticky substance inherent in the fruit) with coconut oil. A subordinate would join her to speed up the exercise and if there was a visiting elder, she too would join her. Sipping their noon kahata or plain tea, gossip would abound cleaning kos madulu for the pot.

Jackfruit is a popular rice substitute in rural Sri Lanka, often accompanied by traditional products like pol sambol and dried fish or karawala – an epicurean delight. The Jack tree is revered by the Lankans as buth gaha translating to “rice tree”. The fruit has fed many Lankans during food shortages throughout history and the COVID pandemic is the most recent on the list. Sell ​​a bag or two of kos Daily during the first two waves of the pandemic also helped feed many families here.

Botanically called
Artocarpus heterophyllus, jackfruit. the largest of all known fruits in the world, native to the Indo-Malay region. From there it spread to neighboring Sri Lanka, South China, Southeast Asia and also parts of Africa including Kenya, Uganda, Zanzibar, Mauritius and Madagascar. . It also found its way to Brazil, Jamaica and Australia. The main jackfruit producing regions in the world are Bangladesh (where it is referred to as the national fruit), Brazil, Myanmar, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Hailed by the villagers as kiri gaha or sap tree, jackfruit is also associated with many rituals and superstitious with a long history of one here at home. Historical documents such as Mahawansa, Amawathura and Visuddi Margaya chronicle of such connections. Robert Knox in his book, A historical relation of the island of Ceylon also refers to the tree and its values. “Some literary sources also document that a jackfruit orchard of 100,000 plants was cultivated under the royal patronage of Maha Parakramabahu. In ancient Sinhala literature, this fruit is referred to by many terms, including pana, panasa, herali and kos. Some names of towns and villages also reflect the close association the Lankans had with this fruit.

Kosgoda, Kosmulla, Koswatta, Kosgama, Panagoda, Panamure, Panamaldeniya and Heraliyawa are a few examples ”, underlines the former head of the Fruit division and principal research officer of the Institute for Research and Development of Horticultural Crops (HORDI) in Gannoruwa, Indrani Medagoda. The fruit researcher who has extensively researched and presented articles on jackfruit also says that although it is eaten as a substitute for rice, it remains an underused crop in local agriculture. “Only about 30% of the total production is consumed and the rest is wasted,” remarks Medagoda who calls for strategies to improve the use of this wonderful fruit in order to increase the income of producers and improve its contribution to the crop. Food Safety.

Jackfruit is considered an essential crop on the island given its multiple values: wood, medicinal, cultural and environmental. There are two fruiting seasons, explains Medagoda. “March-June is the main season and November to January is the secondary season. However, there are also trees out of season and all year round.

Traditional knowledge about jackfruit is used only at the household level and the dissemination of this knowledge among producers and other interest groups is an important point of the scientist. “An integrated approach is needed to improve the conservation and use of the genetic resources of the jaks growing in Sri Lanka. This would improve the productivity, quality and income of culture and help reduce poverty and increase food security in rural communities, ”she adds.

Philanthropist and independence fighter Arthur V Dias, landowner / planter, pioneered the spread of jackfruit across the island in 1918, earning him affection Kos mom. His campaign has helped declare the jak a protected tree and none can be felled without a permit attesting to its importance in the country.

Jackfruit comes in many forms; an immature fruit that is polo shirts is often cooked as a popular curry like ambula polo shirts. Another is mallum polo shirts. Ambula polo shirts is now also popular in restaurants overseas. “At one point polo shirts was only available in Asian supermarkets in England, but today it is available in most supermarkets and stocks are running out very quickly. It’s a very popular vegetarian dish and it’s also a popular substitute for pulled pork dishes in restaurants, ”says Padma Tennakoon from Staffordshire in the UK.

A box of jackfruit costs approx.
£ 3.50 in the UK and the price varies from store to store, says Padma who had lived in England for almost 50 years now. She loves sweet honey waraka (ripe jackfruit bulb) as well as jak in its other forms. “Waraka is also available canned but can only be found in Asian supermarkets. Nothing can equal fresh kos and waraka we used to enjoy back home in Sri Lanka, but when you live abroad and crave our traditional food, we are more than happy to have them even in cans or jars ” , she says.

Jackfruit is also popular in Australia. It can be found canned, frozen and raw in local and Sri Lankan supermarkets, says Lanchana Alwis, who is studying for her masters at the University of Melbourne. “Raw jak is expensive compared to other fruits here. It’s about $ 16 per kilo. A can (400g) costs around $ 4.50. Although I still haven’t seen it serving curry in Australian restaurants, most Lankan restaurants in Melbourne serve kos curry for lunch and it is very popular even among the locals. However, some Australian restaurants offer BBQ jackfruit sandwiches and pulled jackfruit tacos.

Jackfruit can be served boiled, as kos beduma, atu kos, kos eta beduma and Kalu pol maluwa. Ripe fruit can be either waraka Where vela. Waraka is firmer than vela which is viscous and less preferred. Waraka sprinkled with a pinch of pepper and salt is a delicious dessert and its fruity aroma is hard to hide. Some like it, some don’t.

Jackfruit’s disease-preventive properties have earned it recognition as a “superfood” in many Western countries, says chief of nutrition in the Department of Nutrition at the Medical Research Institute (MRI) and president of Sri Lanka Medical Nutrition Association (SLMNA), Dr Renuka Jayatissa. “Sri Lanka has not yet fully recognized the health benefits of the fruit and measures must be put in place to be more creative in its preparation and popularize it among young people”, observes Dr Jayatissa who cites the example of roasted jackfruit. “It could be a healthy snack with less energy that wouldn’t affect weight.”

Although a few high-end outlets and restaurants are experimenting with jackfruit dishes, the potential is still largely unoptimized, says the clinical nutritionist. “Jackfruit can be a healthy garnish for chops and patties and polo shirts is a wonderful garnish for pizzas. These should be made more freely available.

Jackfruit is a rich source of potassium which is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure, and a third of our daily potassium needs could be met with a cup of jackfruit tea, explains Dr. Jayatissa. A very rich source of fiber as well, consumption of jackfruit may minimize the risk of colon and prostate cancer. Its antioxidants have cancer-preventive properties, especially breast cancer, she says.

Jackfruit is also a good source of vitamin A and magnesium. “One cup of jackfruit can cover 40% of the daily magnesium requirement, which helps prevent muscle cramps. Jak seeds are a good source of protein and energy and it is always recommended to cook jak with the seeds. Other seed-based curries like Kalu pol maluwa are in very good health.

The wall waraka contains more carbohydrates than raw fruit, says Dr. Jayatissa. “The good news is that waraka is a low carbohydrate food and even diabetics can safely enjoy it because it has the benefit of minimizing the absorption of carbohydrates due to the presence of fiber. It is a wonderful fruit that is able to control sugar levels with the help of fiber, ”explains Dr Jayatissa, who encourages restaurateurs and chefs to make the best use of this all-organic natural panacea that is found in abundance. in all the countries.


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