Destination-Kerala-Vyapar

Kochi: From jackfruit burger patty and jackfruit seed pasta to coconut flour and cream, the two humble and ubiquitous fruits of Kerala grabbed the eyeballs and whetted the palates of food lovers at Vyapar 2017, the three-day business-to-business meet organised by Kerala Government here recently.

Intrinsically linked to Kerala’s traditional agrarian image, coconuts and jackfruits are now seeing a global image revamp with several Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) showcasing a variety of innovative, value-added products marketed nationally and internationally.

The two fruits, which are easily available and affordable, are being hailed by scientists, dieticians and health gurus for their multitude of health benefits. This has spurred some Kerala companies to dish out a string of delectable products from coconuts and jackfruits.

A company in Kannur has over 20 jackfruit products, ranging from a newly-launched jackfruit seed pasta to jackfruit seed flours to ‘heat and eat’ curries.

“Most of our inquiries at Vyapar 2017 are for the pasta,” says Subhash K, the company managing director. “We have a jackfruit burger patty made for the New Zealand market and a teriyaki dish, which is a vegetarian replacement for chicken, and a big hit in Europe.”

Interestingly, while the jackfruit is freely available across the State, it is not used popularly in kitchens because of the trouble of plucking and then cleaning it for consumption.

“Since our jackfruit is wild, rather than cultivated, its particular flavour is hugely popular in markets outside India,” says Japhar Manalody, whose company exports additive-free jackfruit chips to the US, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Middle East. “Brokers source jackfruit from homes and sell them in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, and we have now moved into the picture and are buying from them.”

After a hiatus, coconut oil and other newly-developed by-products, ranging from coconut cream to chips and flour, are entering the scene as one of the healthiest and most flavoursome ingredients.

“Our coconut flour makes a popular gluten-free substitute for flour in cakes and pancakes,” says Ubais Ali, whose company exports varieties of coconut oils to North America, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. “Thanks to the dietary fibre in the flour and coconut cream, they are also healthy ingredients.”