Culinary possibilities with breadfruit | Sunday Observer

Culinary possibilities with breadfruit

5 December, 2021

Rice has been the staple food of Sri Lankans since antiquity. Dishes prepared of finger millet, jackfruit and local yams were also incorporated into their main meals. Although breadfruit has no long history in Sri Lankan culinary tradition, the fruit (which is consumed in the form of vegetable) has a significant place in the meals of Sri Lankans.

Breadfruit is said to have been introduced in Sri Lanka by the Dutch invaders who landed in the South in the 1600s. The first breadfruit tree was planted in the Galle fort, which can still be seen with fruits borne seasonally.

Folklores are linked to the introduction of breadfruit into Sri Lanka. The commonly believed story says that the Dutch invaders popularised the consumption of breadfruit among Sri Lankans who appeared robust and healthy to weaken them as the fruit causes inflammation. Although this cannot be proven medically, some people still believe this.

Nevertheless, they take pride in saying that the Dutch failed in tricking Sri Lankans as people began to consume breadfruit with coconut which mitigates the inflammatory effects caused by breadfruit.

Albeit, it is a common belief among Sri Lankans that breadfruit causes inflammation and for some, this can create allergic reactions in the body. Hence, this vegetable is avoided by many who have bodily inflammation issues. Some say that the inflammation effects of breadfruit can be mitigated if the coconut is added because coconut has the ability to reduce heat in the body.

Breadfruit (Artocarpusaltilis) is a shade tree that grows up to 15 to 20 metres. The tree is best adapted to areas with 500 metres of altitude from the sea level. The fruit weighs up to 1 to 2 kilograms.

Although grown in many areas of the country, breadfruit still is an underutilised food. As per Food and Agriculture Organization reports, the number of undernourished people in the world has reached over a billion. Breadfruit can be recommended as a solution to food insecurity as well as malnutrition.

Breadfruit is often eaten as a staple food due to the high level of carbohydrate in the fruit which is also rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein. This can be grown sustainably with minimal agricultural inputs and can be multi-cropped with cash crops.

Culinary possibilities

People consume breadfruit mainly in the form of curry. Some boil breadfruit and eat with Pol Sambolaya or scraped coconut. During the season when breadfruit is abundant, villagers preserve the fruit (vegetable) by sun drying cut breadfruit pieces. The dried breadfruit is known as Del Atukos. Del Atukos curry is another popular dish made of dried breadfruit. Sugar coated Atukos is another popular confection of dried breadfruit.

Culinary possibilities with breadfruit are limitless. Among them are breadfruit Roti, ice cream, biscuit, cutlet, muffin and pancake.

Breadfruit ice cream

Breadfruit ice cream can be an alien food for Sri Lankans who love to consume breadfruit as a curry. Ice cream prepared of breadfruit is a filling and delectable dish to be tried. The starchy ice cream is sure to give the connoisseurs of ice cream a novel experience.

How to prepare breadfruit ice cream

Boil the peeled and cored breadfruit. Mash it well. In a container, combine heavy cream and icing sugar. Whip the mixture using a hand blender until the mixture becomes fluffy. In another container, add the well mashed breadfruit and condensed milk and mix well. Add half of the breadfruit and condensed milk mixture to the heavy cream mix and fold using a spatula. Add the remaining breadfruit mix and fold until fully incorporated.

Pour the mixture into a rectangular shallow container and freeze for 6-8 hours.

Breadfruit muffin

Boil and mash breadfruit well. Mix flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add some brown sugar. In a container, whisk the mashed breadfruit and egg. Add this mix into the dry ingredients. Add melted butter. Whisk until combined. Bake for 15 minutes until risen.

Breadfruit baked pancake

Boil and mash breadfruit. Scoop mashed breadfruit into a blender. Add eggs, milk, and sugar. Blend until you get a smooth batter.

Add baking soda and a pinch of salt and mix well. Scoop pancake mixture into round shaped baking trays and bake until golden brown.

Breadfruit and semolina biscuits

Roast semolina. Heat a pan and add 3/4 cup of water. Then add sugar and boil. Add scraped coconut, semolina, crushed cardamom and mashed breadfruit. Cook for a couple of minutes and remove from heat. Once the mixture is cooled down, add a pinch of salt and baking soda and mix well. Cut out biscuits and bake until the biscuits are golden brown.

Breadfruit roti

Boil and mash breadfruit. Add scraped coconut, a few curry leaves, chopped onion and green chili. Add salt to taste. Mix the all the ingredients and form a soft dough. Break a tennis ball sized piece from the dough and flatten. Heat a pan and roast both sides until brown colour patches appear all over.

Breadfruit balls

People prefer eating boiled breadfruit with scraped coconut. It can be mashed and add a little salt to make small balls.

Breadfruit cutlets

Cutlets are a popular dish. They are often made with boiled and mashed potatoes and tin fish. In making cutlets, boiled and mashed breadfruit can be used in place of potato.

Sugar coated Atukos

Fry the Atukos (fried breadfruit pieces) and leave aside to drain the excess oil. Heat a pan and add water and sugar. Boil sugar until you get a somewhat thick mixture. Add Atukos and cook for a couple of minutes.