Lakucha is one of the most revered native fruits that finds mention in several Hindu texts and treatises. Lakucha (Artocarpus lacucha), commonly known as monkey jack or monkey jackfruit is often taken to be the cousin of the more famous jackfruit and possesses a rare combination of sweetness and sourness accompanied with a fiery punch.
In fact, traditional medicine and Ayurveda highly recommend lakucha to be taken in very small doses only as its hotness has the tendency to create some amount of discomfort. The unripe lakucha is difficult to digest but the ripe fruit with its typical yellowish pink flesh is used in local delicacies, as fruit pulp, chutney, curry and pickle.
Lakucha is found in abundance in the hilly state of Himachal particularly in Shimla, Mandi and Hamirpur. Locals use the fruit to improve digestion, as an aphrodisiac, to treat arthritis and to strengthen the heart functioning, fresh fruit pulp as a liver tonic, seeds and latex to treat digestive ailments, bark powder to treat skin lacerations and ulcers and dried extract of the fruit to treat tape worm infestation.
Lakucha pickle is commonly sold in the markets and is prepared towards the end of August. The fruits are carefully pealed and then boiled in water for a few minutes. It is strained and then dried in the sun till all the water evaporates.
It is cut into small pieces and mixed with mustard oil, salt, sugar and freshly ground turmeric, red chilli, cumin, fenugreek and thyme. It is then put into a clay jar or pot and allowed to ferment.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian