Anjili Chakka Or Wild Jack: The Tropical Jackfruit Look-Alike

We might all be aware of the joys of eating tropical jackfruit, which is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. It can be cooked and eaten when raw and ripe, and it can be prepared in many ways. And when it is raw, it is used as a meat substitute in many dishes for vegetarians. Most people who know about the fruit and have eaten it eagerly wait for the summer through the monsoon year-on-year to get their hands on a fresh batch. It is a tropical delight, especially in the Western Ghats region of India. But have you ever eaten wild jack?

Wild jack, also known as Artocarpus hirsutus, is a lesser-known tropical fruit, and the tree, native to India, is found along the evergreen forests of the western ghats of the country. The fruit is similar to jackfruit but smaller in size, fits the palm of your hand, and is sweeter than its larger counterpart, the pulpy jackfruit. The texture is similar to jackfruit from the skin to the pulp, although the pulp might be a tad bit more fibrous as compared to jackfruit.

Thus, the fruit, which is popularly available in Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and parts of Tamil Nadu, is also known as hebbalasu in Kannada, Anjili chakka in Malayalam, ayini palam in Tamil, vadahar in Hindi, and pejakayi in Tulu. Hebbalasu in Kannada means huge jackfruit. But the contradiction lies in the fruit's small size and tiny segments of pulp. Hebbalasu, in this context, does not refer to the fruit of the tree but to the tree itself on the whole, which grows to about 100 feet or more.

Unlike jackfruit, this tree is popularly grown for its timber value. While we might all enjoy a house boat or a boat ride while in Kerala, you must know that most of those boats might be made from Anjili chakka wood. That's not all. The wild jack tree is hewn to build the famous snake boats of Kerala that are used for boat races during festive occasions.

Back in the days, the doors of the temple, furniture, and woodwork in the houses were all done with the wood obtained from this tropical fruit tree so extensively that the availability of this fruit and the trees is a rare sight to see nowadays. While jackfruit costs about Rs. 25 per kilogramme during the season in the market, wild jack is sold at Rs. 300–400 per kilogramme when they are spotted being sold by local vendors along the highways of Karnataka and Kerala, or on the streets and some markets, because they are so rarely available even when in season!

This is one tree that is used from root to fruit for its multiple benefits. The bark of the tree is powdered and used to heal sores, while the leaves serve as elephant fodder. The seeds, when dried and powdered to be mixed with honey, are believed to be used as medicine to treat asthama. The bark of the wild jack tree is known to have healing properties that can cure ulcers, diarrhoea, cracks, and acne. The fresh seeds are boiled and stored for a day to collect the oil that floats atop, which is known for topical application to treat skin-related issues.

While the fruit is eaten on its own, it is also used for cooking snacks like gaarige, chips, and so on, just like jackfruit. The seeds are used in curries. The fruit is de-skinned, and the pulp is brined, stored in jars, and used for the preparation of various condiments and relishes like pickles, chutneys, gojju, and more.

Wild jack is a nutritious fruit that is high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Wild jackfruit is a good source of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. It also contains antioxidants that can help protect the heart from damage. Wild jackfruit is a good source of fibre, which can help slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This can help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes or prediabetes, improve digestion, and prevent constipation. It is rich in vitamin C and helps boost the immune system.

This evergreen tree species needs to be conserved. At present, it is already a fruit tree that evokes nostalgia for people from the 1960s era in South India. And the 90s kids, or millenials, are barely aware of or remember it as a tree that they once saw when they were too young or as the fruit that they once ate upon their visit to their native place during school holidays. We may not be sure that the generation after millenials is even aware of its existence. With it being so rarely available in mainstream markets currently, it may not be long before the species perishes, and we might be left only with worn-out furniture or a window to remember that a wild jack tree once stood tall and strong in the forests of the Western Ghats of India.

Hebbalasina Gojju Recipe

Hebbalasina gojju is a delicious preserve that is brined and stored for unseasonal consumption. It is a tangy chutney-like condiment that pairs beautifully with rice rotti (akki rotti), dosa, rice porridge (kanji), steamed rice, chapathis, steamed rice balls (kadubus), idlis, and more. Here is a delightful recipe for the hebbalasina gojju:


    1/2 cup Brined raw wild jack pieces

    1/2 cup Brined raw mango chunks

    8 Red chillies

    1 cup grated coconut

    8-10 garlic flakes

    1 tablespoon of coconut oil

    8-10 curry leaves

    1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds


Roast garlic, red chillies, and coconut lightly with a teaspoon of coconut oil and grind them into a fine paste.

Coarsely mash the wild jack and raw mango chunks together and mix them with the ground masala paste.

Make a tempering with the remaining coconut oil, mustard seeds, and curry leaves and pour it over the gojju.

Serve it with piping-hot ganji.