|Food Chain No. 17 - March 1996 (ITDG, 1996, 16 p.)|
Nature's gifts are wonderful and strange. The jak tree (Artocapus heterophyllus) is one such wonder. We Sri Lankans call it bath gasa (rice tree), because jak fruit could easily replace our staple food, rice. The fruit itself is a package carrying a variety of food - jak bulbs, sepals, seeds etc. Sri Lankan women's experiments carried from generation to generation proved that jak fruit is consumable at four different stages.
Sinhalese call it polos, Tamils, palamusu. Using the whole fruit, with the outer shell removed, our women prepare a curry which tastes like meat curry; the boiled fruit is mashed and used to make cutlets, replacing potatoes.
The next stage is very popular in busy urban societies. In all the markets, jak vendors are a common sight during the season. They remove the thick outer shell of the fruit which is a bit more mature than the tender jak, and cut the fruit in a masterly style, charging ten rupees a portion. The unit of measure is usually a condensed milk tin. The finely chopped jak is used for preparing a side dish (a kind of salad) to go with curries
Sinhalese call it kos; Tamils, palakkai. This is the mature stage preferred by women for preservation. During the season, Sri Lankans eat the boiled jak bulbs and seeds with scraped coconut (the white flesh or 'meat' of the coconut) and curry which is a very heavy meal; jak bulbs are also cooked with spices and served as a curry To preserve for use when out of season, Sri Lankan women Blanche and sun dry the bulbs. Seeds, as well as sepals, are sun-dried and stored.
Ripe jak is sweet fruit. People eat ripe jak bulbs as a dessert, with a pinch of salt and pepper. There is a belief that eating ripe jak without salt and pepper may cause stomach troubles. You are advised not to drink water soon after eating ripe jak.
Ripe jak is what nature offered us. Our great-grandmothers experimented with the fruit at different stages... in their tiny kitchens Was it because they had enough time to spare to experiment with food recipes or was it because they wanted to find answers to problems such as food scarcities and managing available resources more effectively ?
Food preservation methods evolved from those tiny 'laboratories' furnished with basic equipment. They were passed from generation to generation, with new methods adding on. But the findings were not recorded. No one recognized these inventions until, recently, some researchers looking for more information, and a team of communicators took the challenge of sharing women's knowledge. The exercise resulted in both women and men writing about the kitchen-based experiments carried out by women to address the basic needs, without which we cannot survive
RECIPES TRAVEL FROM BANGLADESH TO CAMBODIA
Chanachur is also known as Bombay Mix or Cocktail Mixture and is a spicy combinations of four different mixtures. First you should prepare the 4 mixtures separately.
Mixture No. 1
Wheat flour 150g Dhal flour 300g Water 225g Salt 10g Oil to fry and a perforated steel sheet
Mix the wheat flour and dhal flour well. Add salt and water to make a dough. Add a little oil to soften the dough. Heat oil in a deep pan, and when the oil is ready, press the flour dough through the perforated sheet into to the hot oil. Deep fry until it goes golden.
Oil to fry
Remove the shells of the peanuts and deep fry them.
Pigeon pea 100g
Oil to fry
Clean the pigeon peas and let them soak for about 3 to 4 hours. Drain the water and deep fry in the hot oil
Chick pea 100g
Oil to fry
Clean the chick peas and let them soak for about 3 to 4 hours Drain the water and deep fry in the hot oil.
To prepare the main mixture
Chanachur - first mix all the four mixtures together. Add spices and chilli powder and salt to taste. If you want to keep it for a certain period add two or three drops of citric acid and seal in a polypropylene packets.
AN EASY WAY TO PRESERVE JAK SEEDS
You need a large clay pot, jak seeds (well formed and undamaged), and dry sand.
The clay pot should be well dried. Clean and dry the seeds allowing no moisture on the outer sheath. Spread a thick layer of dry sand in the bottom of the pot. Spread a layer of jak seeds (2 inches thick) over it. Over the layer of seeds put another layer of sand. Continue to spread sand and seed layers alternately, until the pot is completely filled The uppermost layer of sand should be at least 2 inches thick. When the process is completed, keep the clay pot near the hearth; away from water and moisture Jak seeds preserved this way can be kept for more than a year.
A course with a difference
Muy Ly from Cambodia writes about her experience during - and after - a six-week training course in Sri Lanka.
I am very privileged and proud to have participated in the Food Processing as a Small Business course held at the Intemational Centre for the Training of Rural Leaders in Embilipitiya, Sri Lanka I thought it was just another course on food technology, but found it was not. Sincerely, I have to admit that we learnt more than we expected during our stay of six weeks.
Back in Cambodia, I tried my best to share the knowledge and experiences I gathered from different cultures during the training. I found the usefulness of doing needs assessments, market feasibilities etc. before starting any kind of business. Food enterprises cannot survive if the entrepreneurial requirements are not fulfilled. Motivated by the training course, I redesigned the training programmes here, including both food technology and business development components.
PART 1: FOOD PROCESSING TRAINING
Introduction to food processing; why process foods; hygiene and sanitation; principles of processing and preservation; practical sessions - nine marketable food products; evaluation of the training
I also added two new products - jujubes and chanachur - to my practical sessions, and I am thinking of expanding and diversifying future training programmes.
PART 2: SMALL BUSINESS MANAGEMENT TRAINING
How to run a small business successfully; needs assessment; conducting market feasibility studies; preparing business plans; keeping accounts etc.
Usually, small business management training is conducted by small enterprise promotion officers (SEPOs) of the Association of the Cambodia Local Economic Development Agency (ACCEDA). They also do a follow-up and provide counselling for their trainees.
So far, with support from an Indian food processing specialist, I have been able to train more than 50 people starting or expanding food processing enterprises. Based on the knowledge I gathered, we also conducted training of trainers courses for extension officers, helping them to be better counsellors to small-scale food processors.
I am thinking of expanding and diversifying my food processing training programmes, after conducting feasibility studies, by adding more products that I learnt about at ICTRL.