It’s that time of the year when the sun blazes down towards the end of April or May and its summer in Coastal Maharashtra. The region called Konkan ( Western Maharashtra, India) comes alive with its rich produce of fruits those that are unique to this region. The champion produce is the Alphonso Mango the king of all fruits. This fruit has put the region on the world map . The cashew nut is another but the one that actually never enters the mainstream is the Jackfruit, another summer marvel.
This fruit when ripened produces the sweetest fleshiest piece of fruit ever found in the fruit kingdom. It is a large fruit and varies in size from 6 inches to several feet. In appearance it has a thorny scaly thick skinned body and a strong green stem. This stem is very strong as it carries the enormous weight of this fruit. This fruit and its pods each of which has a unique seed is eaten for its fleshy pulp, used for pulpy jellies rolled into thick fudge ( called paapad or saath ), chips and wafers are made, but my personal favorite is the vegetable that is made out of the green jackfruit when it is not completely ripe.
The vegetable the way it turns out is truly the vegetarian equivalent of mutton. Definitely the way the Brahmin’s of the coast make it. The recipe varies across the coastal line and it is popular in a vegetable form also across Karnataka and Kerala where they favor it as a curry. This hereunder is the Maharashtrian way, where the Brahmins cock a snook at the others who tease them for never having sampled red meat. They convincingly say when we have this we don’t need to, and me a confirmed red meat eater do tend to agree with their conviction. This here is the recipe we tried from my paternal aunt’s kitchen and did it turn out yum...You just try it out and enjoy.
- · Jackfruit , green around a kg of fruit weight. This yields around 600gms of pulp.
- · Cashew nuts, peanuts or paavtey or green waal seeds about ¼ cup
- · 6-7 red chillies
- · Turmeric powder ¼ tsp
- · Asafetida or Hing 1 tbsp
- · Jeera or cumin seeds 2 tbsp
- · Mustard seeds 2 tbsp
- · Coconut Oil/ Peanut Oil : ½ cup
- · Red Chilly powder, 1 tsp
- · Gur or Jaggery ; 2tbsp or 25gms shavings
- · Fresh coconut : 1/2 , grated fine
- · Coriander leaves ¼ bunch finely chopped
- · Salt to taste.
Preparation Method :
The jackfruit is a tough fruit to get into. The skin is tough and thick and the fruit being raw has sap in it which is sticky. Apply a little coconut oil on the surface of your chopping knife and thinly cut off the skin from end to end. We shall have a peeled fruit which is longish in shape and brown in colour. Now hold it horizontal on the chopping board and make circumferential cuts about half an inch thick to get circular slices quite akin to cuts we execute on pineapples.
The internal layout of the fruit is such that you shall see a thick central core attached to a pulpy outer core with close fibrous tendons. Now cut along the centre where the dices made keep the inner core attached to the outer pulp approx ¼ to ½ inch according to preference. Then once you have a single piece slice the fibers exactly midway. This way you have a dice which has pulp at one end and fibers at the other end, looks like the head of a toothbrush in appearance. Seeds if any are diced along and are included with the cooking material. Keep the chopped jackfruit soaked in water such that the sap is washed off. The toughest part of your job is done. The rest is easy. For those who don’t want to go thru this rigor can open a tin of dices in brine. They are available in shopping malls, but believe me it won’t taste quite the same.
Now sprinkle a little salt on these dices, and pressure-cook them till they are done. Typically 3-4 whistles. Remove and keep aside and crush lightly by hand such that they separate. If you are using peanuts instead of cashews then you can add them along with the jackfruit dices and pressure cook them too. Cashews you soak in water and keep aside to be added later.
In a large frying pan put a tbsp of oil and fry the red chilies till they start to crackle. Remove, cool and crush them by hand.
Supplement the hot oil in the pan with fresh oil and when it reaches a boil add cumin, mustard seeds, asafetida, turmeric, chili powder , grated coconut and the nuts. Add the jaggery shavings, the cooled jackfruit dices and toss it till the ingredients mix properly. Cover lid and steam for a while and remove in serving bowl. In another pan take some more oil for a second tadka which has cumin, mustard seeds asafetida and add the tadka over the jackfruit in the serving bowl. Garnish with fresh coriander and grated coconut and eat away to your heart’s content.
Tastes best with Indian breads like chapatti’s and if not can be eaten like a snack dish as it is.