Jackfruit is one vegetable that I really missed when I moved to Australia because we could never find fresh Jackfruit in Perth where I first lived for many years. I have a very nostalgic relationship with this strange-looking, large and prickly fruit found everywhere in India.
When I was young, I had a very tumultuous relationship with my mother. I was of the firm belief that she loved my brother more than she loved me. It probably did not help that I was a very naughty child continually getting into trouble, while my brother, on the other hand, was a model of good behaviour. He never did anything wrong and was such a well behaved kid that everyone loved him. Like most kids, we would fight, and usually, I was the instigator, so upon being told off by my mother, I would get angry and go to my room crying and yelling ‘you don’t love me.’
Of course, in my adolescent rage, I never saw my own faults.
Coming back to Jackfruit, it is a hard fruit to peel. You have to apply oil on your hands in order to hold it and cut it because the hard skin that covers this deliciously tender and meaty fruit is a pain to work with. I remembered back at home, my mother’s skin would react to the skin of the Jackfruit, making it red and covered with a rash. After a terrible fight with my brother and a lousy tantrum from me, my mother would go to the local market and source some Jackfruit for me because she knew I loved the way she cooked it. I would find her in the kitchen, her hands all red making this dish that her petulant child loved so much.
Obviously, I never appreciated this gesture until my better sense prevailed and I was old enough to understand that I needed to correct my behaviour and that this woman I fought so much with actually loved me unconditionally. After I got married and moved out of home, every single time I visited my parents’ home, my only request would be this Jackfruit curry she made, and almost every time I would come back with a box full of the leftovers which were made especially for me.
So, I was definitely gutted when I moved to Perth, and Jackfruit was almost unheard of. Thankfully it is available in Sydney, and I for one am happy to cook with it a lot. The texture of cooked Jackfruit is like pulled pork or beef; it’s chewy and pretty easy to digest. The tender raw Jackfruit is used to make curries as it resembles meat in flavour. . However, this ripe fruit which has a powerful odour can also be eaten on its own and to make desserts.
If you’re looking for fresh raw Jackfruit, you can always visit Sydney markets and hopefully persuade the vendor to cut it for you. I take the shortcut and buy my stash from the Uptons Brand, which can be found in most organic shops. This version is soaked in brine so it doesn’t need to be fried for curries. So, I love using this type of Jackfruit as the main ingredient in a Biryani, the famed Rice dish from India the recipe of which is listed below for you.
An important word of advice if I may:
Don’t let the number of ingredients in this recipe stop you from trying it because once you have eaten this Biryani, I can guarantee that there will be no going back. Also, one thing I would recommend is it to eat this Jackfruit Biryani the next day because somehow leaving the cooked Jackfruit and the Rice together overnight enhances the flavour immensely.
Recipe (Cooking time 1 hour, Serves 6)
For the Jackfruit:
300 Gms Raw Jackfruit
2 large Red Onions
2 large Tomatoes
2 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
4 Potatoes cut into chunks
3/4 cup yogurt
Coriander leaves 2 tbsps, finely chopped
Mint leaves 2 tbsps, finely chopped
For the Rice
1 ½ cup Long grain rice (I use Basmati which can be found in every grocery store)
Salt to taste
2 Bay Leaves
1 tsp Caraway seeds
Juice of ½ a Lemon
3 Green Cardamoms
2 cups water to cook the Rice
For the Garnishing
Saffron few strands soaked in ½ cup lukewarm Milk
Crispy fried shallots (Found in Asian sections of all grocery stores)
1 tbsp freshly chopped Green Coriander
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 tsp Red chili powder or Cayenne pepper
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil or Ghee
1 Cinnamon Stick
7 Green Cardamoms
1 Black Cardamom
2 Bay leaves
If you were using Raw Jackfruit, you should fry it first.
Then you will ground the spices listed in the Biryani Masala to a fine powder and marinate the , cook it and then marinate the Fried and cooled Jackfruit with this masala in yoghurt along with the Potatoes for an hour before cooking.
However, since I am using Jackfruit that is already soaked in brine and is slightly cooked, I will not marinate it or grind the Biryani spice mix.
Wash the rice and cook it with 2 cups water with all the ingredients listed in the section. Since we are only using a little more than half cup Rice, it will not be cooked thoroughly. We will later cook the Rice with the Biryani
In a deep pan heat the oil or Ghee and then add caraway seeds, the ginger garlic paste and spices from the Biryani spice mix listed above.
After a few seconds, add the sliced onions and cook till they are translucent.
Add the tomatoes and cook till mushy. Now lower the flame and add all the spices in the Spice mix except Salt and cook till the raw smell is gone. Gently add the yoghurt which is at room temperature, mixing it with a tbsp of water. This is important as the yoghurt has a tendency to split when cooked.
Add the potatoes and mix well and cook for 5 minutes.
Now add the Jackfruit that is removed from the brine and washed gently in clean water. Since the Jackfruit is cooked, it may break so be gentle when handling it. Add salt, fresh coriander and mint leaves and gently mix everything together.
Layer the half-cooked rice on top of the mixture in the pan. I don’t remove the bay leaves, cardamom, etc. from the Rice. Ensure you cover the entire pan well.
Now drizzle the saffron laced milk on the Rice, then the lemon juice, sprinkle the coriander and fried onions. Cover with a heavy lid and cook on a medium flame for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat and cook for another 40 minutes.
Once cooked let it cool a little before scooping the rice from the sides ensuring you also pick up the Jackfruit and potatoes from the bottom. As I said I usually serve this Biryani the next day with a yoghurt dip and it is delicious.