Jai ho, Jackfruit!

Meat substitute? No thanks! We like jackfruit the way it is.

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Thanks to veganism, the humble jackfruit has become trendy in recent times. In its newest avatar, jackfruit is being used as a vegan ‘pulled meat’ substitute – and is apparently now a pizza topping too.

Of course we in India always knew it as a wonder fruit: it is full of anti-oxidants and contains almost every vitamin and mineral you need.

Here I prefer to handle jackfruit in the time-honoured desi way. To prepare these recipes, buy it fresh at your local Asian store or try a frozen variety.

Jackfruit Pulao

Ingredients

For marinating jackfruit:

500 gms jackfruit pieces

1/2 cup yogurt

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp each grated ginger, crushed garlic and chopped green chillies

For Pulao:

3 tbsp oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 big cardamom, crushed

2 small cardamom, crushed

2 cloves, crushed

2 -3 large onions, finely sliced

1 tsp each grated ginger, crushed garlic and chopped green chillies

1/2 cup each fresh coriander and mint, chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp red chilli powder

2 tsp garam masala powder

7-8 saffron strands in 2 tbsp warm milk

2 tbsp ghee (optional)

2 cups basmati rice soaked in water for 30 mins

100 ml coconut milk

Salt to taste.

Method

Steam the jackfruit pieces for 15 minutes or pressure cook to 1 whistle.

Mix the yogurt with spices and introduce the jackfruit. Keep to marinate in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

Heat a pan with heavy bottom and add 2-3 tbsp oil.

Add the whole spices with cumin seeds.

Add onion with ginger, garlic and chillies with little salt; cook on medium flame until golden brown.

Add the marinated jackfruit pieces. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add the chopped coriander and mint with remaining spice powders and salt.

Add half of coconut milk and let it all cook.

Meanwhile, heat a pot with good 5-6 cups of water and salt.

When it comes to a boil, add rice and let it cook for 7-8 minutes (or until it is about 70% cooked).

Once the jackfruit is partially cooked (70%), start taking out the rice and stack it in a pulao pan.

Spread the ghee and saffron milk using a spoon on top of the rice.

Add remaining coconut milk on top of rice, this will help jackfruit to be moist.

Cover with a heavy lid. This will help the biryani to cook with steam.

Let it cook on the lowest flame for 5 minutes and then move the pan to cook at different places for 5 minutes at least 2-3 times.

Turn off the heat, and let the pan remain covered for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and slowly mix the rice and jackfruit pieces. Serve warm with a raita and a garden salad.

Jackfruit Pickle

Ingredients

250 gm raw mango, grated

500 gm jackfruit, chopped

2 tbsp salt

6 tbsp fenugreek seeds coarsely ground

6 tbsp fennel seeds

3 tsp nigella seeds

1/4 cup red chilli powder

3 tsp turmeric powder

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups mustard oil

Instructions

Steam the jackfruit pieces for 15 minutes or until soft.

Mix the jackfruit, grated mango and salt.

Cover and keep in the sun for 6-8 hours.

Mix all spices along with fennel, fenugreek seeds with oil, vinegar and mango-jackfruit mixture.

Transfer to an oiled and clean jar.

Tightly close the lid of the jar and keep it out in the sun for a period of 1 month.

Stir the contents at intervals of 5-6 days with a clean dry spoon.

Once ready, store it indoors in a cool dry place.