Taanishi Inam: The Jackfruit Queen of Assam

As a child, Tannishi Inam relished her favourite seasonal fruit, the jackfruit (Kothal in Assamese) at the grand parent’s ancestral home in the northeastern state of Assam. It’s only natural that she thought of the unique jackfruit flavour when she launched her new ice-cream brand. Essentially a humanist, she loves experimenting with Assamese recipes and cuisine. After doing her formal Masters in Business Administration (MBA), she decided to be an entrepreneur with a difference. For her, the jackfruit is more than a fruit. It’s a way of life. It’s a decision to be surrounded by stories of her childhood games, food, relatives, banters, bed-time tales in the rural environs of Assam. She took on the challenge to use this hitherto lesser-used flavour in her new venture, Rich Rabbit Ice-cream. She talks to The Thumb Print about her attempt to popularise the jackfruit in a new avaatar

Please tell us how you have transformed your childhood love into a flavour for a newly-launched ice-cream brand?

Ans. I was born and raised in Guwahati, Assam. My paternal ancestors were from Joleshwar, Goalpara from a Zamindar family while my maternal family is from Moniari Tiniali, Mirza in Palashbari in Assam’s Kamrup (rural) district.

In both these two areas, jackfruit is found in abundance and it is one of our favourite seasonal fruit. I could still remember how my grandmother would cook so many varieties of delicious recipes out of raw and ripened jackfruit. Even the seeds of this fruit were used for cooking various traditional dishes.

The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), also known as jack tree, fenne, jakfruit, or sometimes simply jack or jak, is a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family (Moraceae) native to South India.

The word “jackfruit” comes from Portuguese jaca, which in turn is derived from the Malayalam language term. The common English name “jackfruit” was used by physician and naturalist Garcia de Orta in his 1563 book Coloquios dos simples e drogas da India. Centuries later, botanist Ralph Randles Stewart suggested it was named after William Jack (1795-1822), a Scottish botanist who worked for the East India Company in Bengal, Sumatra, and Malaysia.

The jackfruit has played a significant role in Indian agriculture for centuries. Archeological findings in India have revealed that jackfruit was cultivated in India 3000 to 6000 years ago. The jackfruit is a versatile fruit and it provides a potential solution to countries facing problems with food security, such as in several countries of Africa.

What made you decide to opt for jackfruit flavour?

A jackfruit is known for its distinctive strong aroma. When a jackfruit is cut open, then the fleshy pods of the jackfruit is starchy and fibrous and is a source of dietary fiber. The flavor is comparable to a combination of apple, pineapple, mango, and banana. The varieties are distinguished according to characteristics of the fruit’s flesh.

Though jackfruit is found in abundance in Northeast India and people do relish on it but nowadays our new generation are not too keen in eating this fruit. Some find it too messy. I decided to come up with the idea to introduce the pulp as a flavour.

This distinctive and unique flavour of jackfruit gave me the idea to use it for ice-cream so that our children too could be benefitted from this healthy fruit. So, we started using the ripened pulp of the jackfruit as one of the flavour for our frozen dessert brand “Rich Rabbit” under Nestor Nutritions Pvt Ltd.

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What are the health benefits of jackfruit?

It’s not just a fruit. It’s a wonder fruit. Jackfruit is a nutritious fruit and it could be eaten in raw form and when it is ripened. Even the seeds of this fruit is very nutritious and could be dried and powdered and be used a flour and baby food. Nutritious value of the flesh of this fruit as follows

Amount Per 100 grams

Calories 95

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 0.6 g 0%

Saturated fat 0.2 g 1%

Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g

Monounsaturated fat 0.2 g

Trans fat 0 g

Cholesterol 0 mg 0%

Sodium 2 mg 0%

Potassium 448 mg 12%

Total Carbohydrate 23 g 7%

Dietary fiber 1.5 g 6%

Sugar 19 g

Protein 1.7 g 3%

Vitamin A 2% Vitamin C 22%

Calcium 2% Iron 1%

Vitamin B – 615% Vitamin B-120%

Magnesium 7%

Jackfruit is very beneficial for health and few of its amazing goodness are as follows:

It helps us to fight wrinkles and to get clear and flawless skin.

It has high protein and helps in hair growth.

As it has good amount of vitamin A and so it helps us to improve our immunity.

It acts as a cancer preventive.

It has high level of energy and helps in maintaining blood pressure.

It improves our digestion and prevents colon cancer.

It improves our eye sight.

Jackfruit provides relief to people suffering from asthma.

Jackfruit has a rich amount of this nutrient and thus helps regulate blood sugar levels in the body.

Jackfruit is rich in magnesium that helps build and strengthen your bones.

Copper is vital for thyroid metabolism, especially for hormone production and absorption. Jackfruit is filled with this potent micro mineral and keeps your metabolism rate healthy.

Jackfruit is heart-friendly. Vitamin B6 present in the fruit helps to reduce homocysteine levels in your blood and keeps your heart healthy.

Jackfruit has strong anti-ulcerative properties that can cure ulcers and many other digestive system disorders.

Why do you think jackfruit is not a popular flavour?

Though jackfruit is a very nutritious fruit and it is a complete food but people are not aware of this immense health benefits. The reason could be because of the unique and strong aroma and probably because it is easily available and at a cheap price that people often seem to ignore it.

As an entrepreneur yourself, how do you think we can improve the plight of women entrepreneurs?

The condition of the women entrepreneurs could be improved by right kind of education, training, exposure and information. The government and co-operatives could play a vital role in this. The entrepreneurs should try to keep themselves upgraded with the latest information and technology about their products. They should also do a thorough study regarding the market and choice of the consumers. Procurement of raw materials is another bottleneck for women trying out new business ventures.

Please tell us about your work with underprivileged women.

Working with the underprivileged women is one of the biggest challenge because we have to keep in mind that most of the women lack awareness, are financially very weak and have little or no access to resources. But I have felt that women nowadays are very much aware of how they can do something and improve the financial condition of the family. They are ready to learn new and modern skills quickly and start earning by developing their skills. It gives us immense happiness when we read their success stories. Women of this generation are aware and they have a willingness to do something to make their quality of life better. They can explore their indigenous resources to usher in a change.