Jack is a tree that gives several invaluable benefits to people. It’s a great source of enriched food and offer timber for construction. In Sri Lanka, due to its high resourcefulness as a food, it’s also called “Bath Gasa” meaning; the tree that is as valuable as rice.
Also, there are several folk stories built around this tree. Let me tell you a folk story that tells how the name “Hera Liya” was given to Jack. Once upon a time, there had been a drought that extended for a longer period and people had been starving due to lack of food as they couldn’t grow their rice. However, during this era, people had no knowledge about how a tasty and a rich food is Jack. Some believed that these fruits would make them sick. Then, these helpless people started to pray for god’s help. In response, a superior god named Shakra wanted to help and saw how people are unnecessarily being hungry while having this rich food in their own surrounding. So, he decided to act upon this matter and teach these people the usefulness of it. One day, he disguised as a beggar and visited a woman who prayed for help in a village. When he asked for some food, the woman claimed that, even they don’t have sufficient food and that unable to help him. Then, the god asked: “if you really want to help me, can you boil me some pieces of that fruit, please” and pointed his finger to a fruit bearing Jack tree. It was surprising for the woman to see someone who wants this as a food, but since she wanted to help this man, she accepted to fulfill his wish. Then, in her kitchen, she started to boil cut pieces of this strange fruit. Sooner, its irresistibly pleasant smell made her mouth water and couldn’t stop herself from tasting it. First, she tried a tiny piece and its amazing taste drew her to finish all. Now, since nothing is left to give the beggar, with guilt she thought of a lie to tell him to cover this up. Then, she told him that it was completely spoiled when cooking and that she threw all away. Knowing the truth, with a smile, the god revealed his true self to the woman and told that it is not necessary to lie to him and that his intention was to teach her how valuable can this tree be for them. Then, this astonished woman asked for forgiveness for lying and thanked from the bottom of the heart for this gift. After, the woman asked; “what’s this fruit is called?” the reply was; “call it Hera-Liya” meaning the woman who steals.
Few days ago, I was able to find some Jack seeds in a Sri Lankan store and thought of making Kalupol Maluwa. This must be the most popular traditional curry made with jack seeds. In fact, I have tried three types of jack seed curries and this is my favorite among all. This has a mouth watering spicy and sower taste with a unique aroma and a taste added by roasted coconut. Hope you will find this recipe useful.
- 40 – 60 Jack seeds – with shells
- 3 tbsp of craped coconut
- ½ an onion – finely sliced
- 1 tsp of raw rice
- 3 small pieces of sun dried bridle berry (Goraka)
- 2 spikes of curry leaves (Karapincha)
- 1 ½ tsp of roasted curry powder
- 3 cloves of garlic – sliced
- A small piece of ginger – finely chopped
- 3 – 4 green chilies
- ¾ tsp of roasted (preferred) or raw red chili powder
- ½ tsp of ground black pepper
- ½ stick of cinnamon – crushed into small pieces
- 3 cups of very light coconut milk (Diya kiri)
- 1 cup of thicker coconut milk (Miti kiri)
- 2 tbsp of cooking oil
Preparation of ground black-roasted coconut mix
Add around 1 tsp of finely sliced onions to a cooking pot. Start stir-roasting them under low-to-medium heat level for about 30 seconds until it loses little bit moisture. Remember, you have to continuously stir in a scraping motion, otherwise they will stick to the bottom of the pot quite easily. Then, bring in coconut, raw rice and a spike of curry leaves. Now continue stir-roasting all under low-to-medium heat until all turn to dark brown. Remember, take your time and do this without getting it burnt coz of excessing heat. At a point, if you will feel like it’s on its way to over roast, take the pot out of the heat instantly and lower the heat and keep back on the cooker. Once it’s done, slightly grind all with either a pestle and mortar (Van Gediya) or with an electric grinder.
Preparing Jack seeds
Either with a pestle and mortar or any other tool you prefer, slightly mash the seeds. Remember, don’t be too harsh on them, you just need to crack their shells.
How to cook Kos Ata Kalupol Maluwa
First, start frying onions, garlic, ginger and cinnamon under medium heat level. After about 2 minutes, lower the heat a bit and bring in curry powder, chili powder, salt, black pepper powder and rest of the curry leaves and stir fry for about 15 seconds. Thereafter, add the prepared jack seeds, bridle berry pieces and the 3 cups of light coconut milk (Diya Kiri). Now, increase the heat medium-to-high level and once the liquid start to bubble, add the black-roasted coconut mix and cook for about 15 minutes until the seeds turn tender. Then, add the cup of thick coconut milk and simmer until it form a very thick gravy. While you simmer, you can adjust salt for your taste.
- If possible, cook this in a clay pot.
- Some batches jack seeds may take longer time period to become tender. So, before you add the thick coconut milk check a sample and if it’s not tender, continue cooking in light coconut milk for little longer. If you feel like there’s no sufficient liquid to do this, add some water.
- You should not pre-boil the jack seeds and start cooking. This will not give the original taste.