Traditional Jackfruit Recipes from the Four Corners of India

Touted as the next big meat substitute to the increasing worldwide population of vegetarians and vegans, jackfruit is said to have the same flavour profile as pulled pork when cooked. When compared to meat, jackfruit does fall behind in the amount of protein per gram values, but this low calorie fruit more than makes up for that in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Jackfruit has almost every vitamin and mineral needed by you, with calories as low as just 157 cals per cup and very low cholesterol too. In other words, it up for that heavenly dish you dream for while being sumptuous.

Traditionally, jackfruit dishes have been enjoyed all across India. From the interiors of Konkan in Maharashtra, where jackfruit is grown in abundance to the far east Bengal and from Punjab in the north to jackfruit Poriyal eaten in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Jackfruit dishes have been incorporated into the Indian diet since time immemorial. Due to the difficulty in cutting open a jackfruit and the care that goes into painstakingly chopping it up while removing the seeds, jackfruit dishes are fast fading from memory thanks to the ‘quick and instant’ mantra of modern day cooking.

Here are four traditional Indian recipes that really shouldn’t get thus lost. These ‘grandparents to grand-children’ heritage hand downs deserve to stand the test of time and make it to our kitchens, not only because they are supremely tasty and healthy, but simply because they were and still are an important part of India’s traditional food culture.

Konkani (Maharashtrian) Jackfruit Bhaji

In Maharashtra, jackfruit is made in one of two ways, a gravy-styled curry and a slightly drier variant. Here’s the variant my grandmother makes- a taste forever etched in my memory.

Prep Time: 30 minutes; Cooking Time 15 minutes; Serves 6 to 7 people

Ingredients:

1.5 kg unripe jackfruit

0.75 cup groundnut (already cooked in a pressure cooker)

4 tbsp cooking oil

0.25 tsp mustard seeds

0.25 tsp cumin seeds

0.25 tsp asafoetida (hing)

0.25 tsp turmeric powder

4 small, dried chillies

3 tsp jaggery

Salt to taste

Recipe:

  • Oil your hands and cutting instruments well. Cut the jackfruit into bite-sized pieces, while removing all bits that turn chewy once cooked.
  • In a small pressure cooker, pressure cook the jackfruit pieces in water and a little salt for about 3 whistles.
  • In a hot wok, add some oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida, turmeric and dried red chillies.
  • Once the mustard seeds start popping, add the cooked jackfruit, cooked groundnut and jaggery to the tempering and mix well.
  • If required add some water and salt and let this cook for 5 to 7 minutes.

Punjabi Kathal ki Sabji

In North India, jackfruit is enjoyed as a spicy, gravy-like curry that goes just as well with naans and rotis, as it goes with rice.

Prep Time: 30 minutes; Cooking Time 30 minutes; Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

0.5 kg unripe jackfruit

1 onion, finely diced

1 inch piece of ginger

5 to 6 cloves of garlic

2 to 3 pieces of green chillies

1 tomatoes, finely diced

0.5 tsp cumin seeds

1 pinch of asafoetida

0.5 tsp red chilli powder

0.5 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

Salt to taste

4 to 5 tsp cooking oil

0.25 tsp garam masala

2 tsp finely chopped fresh coriander

Recipe:

  • Cut the jackfruit in 2 to 3 inch pieces with well-oiled hands and cutting instruments.
  • In 1.5 cups of water, add a little salt and pressure cook for about 2 whistles. Drain the cooked pieces later and keep aside.
  • In a mixer grinder, add the finely chopped onion, the piece of ginger, the green chillies and garlic cloves, and grind into a fine paste. Whisk the tomatoes into a paste too and keep separately.
  • In a wok, heat some oil, add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds change colour, add the onion and ginger paste and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • When the onion mixture changes colour and turns aromatic, add the tomato paste and let it cook for 2 minutes while stirring continuously.
  • Now add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and salt. Keep cooking this till you notice oil separating from the gravy.
  • Now add the cooked jackfruit to the mixture. Add water as needed and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Garnish it with fresh coriander.

South Indian Raw Jackfruit Poriyal

In the South Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, jackfruit Poriyal is quite a popular dish that incorporates another local ingredient, fresh coconut, into it.

Prep Time: 5 minutes; Cooking Time 25 minutes; Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

1 medium sized jackfruit, cut lengthwise and boiled

1 cup grated fresh coconut

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp chopped ginger

3 finely chopped green chillies

1 tbsp urad dal

1 pinch asafoetida

1 tbsp chana dal

0.25 tsp cumin seeds

0.25 tsp mustard seeds

2 dried red chillies

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp fresh coriander

2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves

Recipe:

  • Heat coconut oil in a pan on low heat. Once the oil is hot, add the dried red chillies, cumin and mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal, asafoetida, curry leaves, finely chopped onion and salt.
  • Once the onion turns translucent, add the chopped chillies, chopped ginger and boiled jackfruit. Toss together till everything comes together well.
  • Switch off the flame and add the freshly grated coconut. Garnish with chopped coriander.

Bengali Enchorer Torkari Jackfruit Recipe

Cooked with traditional mustard oil, the Bengali enchorer torkari jackfruit recipe is delicious and aromatic. Enjoy it with a bowl of steamed rice.

Prep Time: 45 minutes; Cooking Time: 30 minutes; serves 3-4 people

Ingredients:

2 cups of raw jackfruit cut into bite-sized cubes

1 potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized cubes.

0.5 cup finely chopped onion

1 tbsp minced or finely chopped garlic

0.5 tbsp ginger paste

1 tomato, finely chopped

1 tsp cumin powder

0.5 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

0.5 tsp garam masala powder

1 bay leaf

1 stick of cinnamon (about an inch)

3 cloves

3 cardamom pods

4 green chilies, slit down the centre

2 tbsp Mustard oil

Salt to taste

1tsp sugar

1 tsp of ghee (optional)

Recipe:

  • Place the pieces of jackfruit in a pressure cooker, add 0.25 cups of water and pressure cook for about 2 whistles. Remove from heat and drain once it cools down and set the cooked jackfruit aside for later.
  • In a deep dish pan, heat the mustard oil on medium to low heat. Once the oil is hot, add the potato cubes and fry for about 5 to 6 minutes till they are delightfully golden brown. Remove the potatoes and set them aside on an absorbent piece of paper to drain excess oil.
  • In exactly the same manner, pan fry the pieces of cooked jackfruit in mustard oil till they too turn golden brown. Remove the pieces and set them aside on absorbent paper to drain excess oil.
  • In the same oil remaining in your pan, add the whole spices, namely the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom pods. Once they sizzle and release their aroma, add the minced garlic and stir for about a minute till the garlic changes colour. Add sugar and mix well.
  • Now add the chopped onion to the mixture and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes with a cover on top till the onions brown. Then add the ginger paste and cook for 2 minutes again.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and a little salt, cover the pan and cook till the tomatoes are completely cooked and mushy.
  • Now add the powdered spices, namely the red chilli powder, cumin powder and green chillies. Add a little water and mix well.
  • Once the gravy starts to release oil, add the fried potatoes and jackfruit. Add some more hot water, cover the pan and let the gravy boil till it thickens and coats the pieces of potato and jackfruit.
  • Finally add ghee and garam masala. Switch off the heat and let the covered pan cook latently. Serve hot.