Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kumbalappam with tea

Halasinna Hannu Kadubu is a Mangalore-origin dish. It is basically jackfruit pulp, jaggery and rice flour mixed into an idli-like batter and steamed in banana leaves. Refreshingly different taste, if you love the distinct flavor of the jackfruit.
I ate this for the first time in Halli Mane, Malleswaram, Bangalore, (though I was aware it was not the best place for an authentic version of the dish) and thought it was an extremely creative version of the idli. Jackfruits are aplenty in Mangalore and they must have found an innovative way to use it.
Recently, my mother-in-law in Cochin introduced me to Kumbalappam. I fell in love with not only the taste of this little dumpling, but the way it is made as well. This dish also establishes that cuisine has thread of continuity across cultures: here coastal Karnataka, Kerala and Sri Lanka. The Kumbalappam is a smart way to use up the plenty jackfruits that grow in almost every backyard in Kerala.
I love the taste of this steamed sweet, the only disappointment is the fibre in the fruit which persists after cooking, and probably prevents the Kumbalappam from becoming a melt-in-the-mouth dessert.

The details

Chop jackfruit into bite-sized chunks, place them into a huge vessel, and keep this on the stove.
Toss the pieces continuously and ensure the base doesn’t burn
Scrape an equal measure of jaggery into the vessel, and keep stirring so they mix well and the molten jaggery coats the fruit.
Add a good measure of powdered elaichi, for a nice flavor and aroma
As the jackfruit and jaggery cooks, it thickens, reduces in quantity and assumes a sticky texture.
When the mixture is reduced to about half, switch off the heat and allow this to cool to room temperature.

Store in airtight jars…

For Kumbalappam, take a bowl of this jackfruit mixture, and add an almost equal measure of rice flour, you have to fold the rice flour little by little into the jackfruit mixture, till it becomes a soft dough. Add crushed jeera and a little more powdered jaggery if you think the sweetness has reduced. And grated fresh coconut…

Take plenty of kumbala (bay) leaves from the garden (you get these leaves in the market). Fold the leaf to form a cone hollow, and spoon the mix into the hollow, secure with the stalk of the leaf, or use a toothpick. Make all the dumplings like this and keep ready.
Steam for 15 minutes.

Serve hot. My colleague Johnson Chacko tells me that eating this a day old, makes it taste even better. So don’t forget to keep some for the next day!

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