Jackfruit muffins aka Halsinahannu Appa
Jaggery, with its deep, mellow sweetness and gorgeous golden hue, is a frequent and much-beloved ingredient in South Kanara cooking. My earliest jaggery memories are from when we (my brother and I) were kids. Summer vacations often involved a trip to 'ooru' (aka 'native village' or where my father grew up). On a hot summer day, you would step into a cool house and be offered a glass of water and some jaggery. It was refreshing! Since then, my palate has been jaded with pop and other refrigerated delights but water and jaggery still work great!
No jaggery story would be complete without a mention of my father's love of jaggery. After dinner, irrespective of how lavish or how modest our meal was, he would find room for a little piece of jaggery. It was a quick maneuver, executed with smoothness and precision. You would barely catch sight of the little piece of 'bella' (thats what jaggery is called in kannada) as it sailed in a graceful parabolic arc into his mouth!
Prime examples of jaggery in South Kanara cooking include:
1. Hesaru Bele Payasa (Moong Bean Payasa): Nutritious payasa made with moong dal and coconut milk, sweetened with jaggery. Ghee roasted cashew and raisins take it up a notch. In my graduate student days, I have eaten this for breakfast - yum!
2. Panchakajaaya: Sweet mix-of-five-things often served as 'prasad'. Usually features five out of the folowing beaten rice (avlakki or poha), coconut, cardomom, jaggery, ghee, poppy seeds. No cooking involved, just toss together. Quite delicious!
3. Kannada version of Modak: Dumplings made with a paste of rice flour and a filling of jaggery and coconut, steamed in turmeric leaves. Ganesh Chathurthi special!
4. Last but not the least, kannada version of appams. These sweet muffin-like creations usually feature rice, bananas, jaggery and coconut. I attempted to make Jackfruit Appa - HalsinaHannu (Ripe Jackfruit) Appa, to be precise!
I made two versions (the story follows), one with rice flour and the other with wheat flour. Traditionally, the appa is made in a special skillet with rice flour. This summer, one of our aunts served us a modified version made with wheat flour and like everything she makes, it was DELICIOUS! Using the lack of the special skillet as an excuse, I started to work on a recipe. I called my consultants, in this case, my brother and my parents! My question was simple, which of the two flours should I use and should I use rising agents, like baking soda/yoghurt? Methodical scientists that we are, they suggested I try all the options!!!!! Make one batch with rice flour, the second with wheat, and a third with both, suggested my father!! My brother was no different. However, the astute scientist will realize that we're increasing the number of fixed effects (flour, rising agent), opening ourselves to the possibility of interaction and moving towards a more complicated design. So I decided to simplify things, made one batch with rice flour (picture above) and another with wheat (picture below).
Personally, I think the rice flour tastes like the traditional appa, the wheat flour version tastes like a muffin. Ripe jackfruit acquires a shy sweetness, in the presence of the robust flavors of coconut, rice and jaggery. The jackfruit-iness is more obvious with the wheat flour.
Heres what I did:
-Ground coconut and jackfruit (canned) in a blender.
-Dissolved jaggery in warm water and added it to the mixture in the blender.
-For the rice version: Added idli rava. For the wheat flour version: Added whole wheat flour + 1 tablespoon of wheat germ.
-Baked in a silicone muffin pan for 18 minutes
-Dotted with butter, baked 5 more minutes.
-Things to watch out for: My 'consultants' reminded me to not use too much water. Just make the batter dropping consistency, not flowing consistency.
-Baking + topping with butter (hopefully) resulted in a healthier version, but in the interests of authenticity I must confess that the traditional version involves a skillet and plenty of butter!
Anyhoo, here is my version of Jackfruit Appa - Enjoy!
Here are links to blogs that have appam recipes:
I found these blogs particularly useful however this list of links is by no means comprehensive. If you'd like to send links my way, I would be delighted to view and add them. All of the bloggers below have wonderful stories to share and have pictures of the end product. The recipes are not exactly the same, lots of variations on a general theme. Makes me happy to know that there are many ways to happiness in life!
1. Priya of Priya's Kitchen
2. Monica of Monika gi Chakhum - Manipuri Food
3. Maheshwari of Beyond the Usual
4. Monisha of Coconut Chutney
5. Krithika of Manpasand
6. RP of My workshop
Update! Jivha For Ingredients Round-up by Kay from Towards a Better Tomorrow.