When James Joseph was nine, his uncle told him that a jackfruit tree in the backyard could lengthen human life by at least ten years.
“My uncle said the fibrous fruit works like a bottle brush to clean the intestinal wall,” says Joseph.
Little did either of them know that years later Joseph would launch a brand, JackFruit365, that would revive jackfruit in its own backyard of south India.
The 46-year-old quit his job a Microsoft director to set up Professional Bharati, a social networking platform that helps Indian professionals find their way back to their hometowns and villages while continuing their careers.
During one of his visits to his hometown Ernakulam, Joseph saw ripe jackfruits abandoned on the roadsides. That’s when the idea struck him.Thanks to JackFruit365, lovers of the seasonal fruit can now buy freeze-dried jackfruit as well as a variety of dishes made from it – from pies to payasam– 365 days a year.
“In India, cold storage chains are in their infancy. Since the shelf-life of fruit is short, many are unwilling to buy it. Hence, like cup noodles, I thought of developing a re-hydrated form of the fruit,” says the entrepreneur.
“During a dinner party at Taj Hotel in Mumbai, the chef served us Varqui Crab and Varqui Kumbh, made with mushrooms. I immediately thought they could replace mushrooms with jackfruit, since jackfruit is considered a vegetable meat.”
Joseph aims to promote and export byproducts of jackfruit in a big way. He has also roped in a leading food processing unit in the south to help with the goal.
“Once you remove the water content, a 1-kg fruit can be reduced to a mere 180gm. It can fit into a zip-lock packet. It can be re-hydrated when being used and it once again swells to the regular bulb size.”
Recently, Galouti kebabs made of jackfruit proved to be a big hit at a wedding party in Lucknow, he says.
“Jackfruit is often called the goat that grows on tree. So, it is the best substitute for meat.”