YesA few years ago, when Rajasree used to visit his hometown in Kerala during vacations, his mother always kept a bundle of dried jackfruit and seeds for her to take back to Qatar where it was not available. . But she never liked the smell of the fruit which persisted even after drying it in the sun.
“Unlike me, most of my friends in Qatar loved it, so I started looking for ways to eliminate the unpleasant smell,” says Rajasree R, who has remained in Qatar with her family for nearly 15 years. before returning to Kerala six years ago.
When she returned home in 2016 to raise her children, Rajashree was clear about starting her own business. “Jackfruit is very versatile and if properly dried and processed could be a good alternative to flours like maida. But the smell had to be eliminated. So, I was looking for a technique or technology to make this possible, ”says the fifty-year-old.
“After getting an FSSAI license, I discovered the technology to dehydrate jackfruit bulbs and their seeds at Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Kayamkulam. The technology helps in drying and making high quality powder from jackfruit eliminating the smell, allowing you to make a wide range of value-added products out of it,” she says, adding that she now manufactures over 400 varieties of products from jackfruit under her brand name – Fruit. N’Root.
A healthy twist on pasta
Rajasree uses the tender, ripe jackfruit to make value-added products ranging from all-purpose flour to jackfruit pasta. “At KVK, they were already making different jackfruit products. So I learned about technology and decided to do something different. My sons love pasta and burgers, so I thought of finding an alternative to the maida used in all those types of foods,” she says. “After some research I found that jackfruit pasta had never been tried by anyone else, so I decided to give it a try. By experimenting a bit, I figured out how to make it from of jackfruit,” says Rajasree.
Making pasta required a machine and Rajasree was then looking for a tapioca pasta maker at the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI) in Thiruvananthapuram. “I tried to make jackfruit pasta with this machine and it worked. Later I got the technology transfer and launched the product,” she adds.
Apart from jackfruit pasta, there is a long list of products like jackfruit burger patties, jackfruit vermicelli, payasam mix, jackfruit and jackfruit seed flour, and even chocolates. “Each part of the jackfruit can be used in one way or another. I use the dried bark as an ingredient in dahashamani (a mixture of Ayurvedic herbs boiled with drinking water that provides many benefits for health) and I also make tooth powder out of it,” says Rajasree, who even uses jackfruit latex to make kajal, but only for personal use.
The chef at home becomes an entrepreneur
Since 2016, Rajasree has participated in different festivals and events across the state showcasing their products. “Some variety products like jackfruit soap, flavored tea, chocolate, etc. are mainly produced for food parties,” says Rajasree, who recently won the government’s “Best Jackfruit Processor/Other Value Added 2021” award. from Kerala.
There is also a long list of delicacies that can be made with jackfruit, she says: “Jackfruit wine, ice cream, pudding, cakes, payasam are some of them. Also, I make jackfruit-flavored curds and buttermilk using its mash,” she adds.
To make his products, Rajasree sources his jackfruit from his hometown – Nooranad in Alappuzha district. “Almost every house there has about 5-10 jackfruit trees which bear lots of fruit every season but without takers most of them are wasted. So I created a small unit there to find and process fruits,” she says, adding that about 10 women work in her unit in Nooranad.
“They separate the jackfruit bulbs, blanch them, dry them and store them there. Later, we sprinkle it, according to the requirement. Only the treatment is done individually,” she explains.
In addition to making value-added products from jackfruit, Rajasree also makes products from tapioca, banana, moringa and organic rice grown on his farm.
“All of my products are purely organic as I don’t use any kind of chemical ingredients”, and therefore the shelf life of most of her products is short.
The company requires Rajasree to be both an entrepreneur and a home chef very often as she takes orders for curries, payasam etc. . “I also take orders for traditional Kerala sadya in which all the side dishes like avial, sambar, thoran, erissery, etc. are made with jackfruit,” she adds.
Among the wide range of products offered by Fruit N’ Root, she says that jackfruit powder, priced at Rs 700/kg, is one of the best-selling products. “Jackfruit powder can be mixed with rice powder, atta or maida and can be used to make puttu, idiyappam, upma, chapati and even cakes and other snacks .”
“Before the pandemic, we were selling around 5-10 kg of jackfruit powder every month but there was a lull during the lockdown period. Also, after a pause, we have restarted pasta sales this month,” says Rajasree, who currently sells his products through Facebook and Whatsapp and plans to sell his products on platforms like Amazon very soon.
If you want to place orders, you can contact Rajasree on 9400234877.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)