Thursday, December 19, 2013

Jackfruit- Kathal ki Sabzi- Vegetarian Meat

If I were to ask somebody to name a few Indian dishes, the immediate answers are most likely to be matar paneer, saag paneer, aloo-gobi, naan, dal, chicken tikka masala, lamb vindaloo, and oh, samosas, of course. Sometimes I might hear baingan ka bhartha, or bhindi masala, and that would make me happy. If I hear masala dosa, idli, vadarasam, sambar, I will be delighted. But if someone were to say kathal ki sabzi, I would become their fan!

In all the 16 years of living in this country, I have eaten this delicacy only in one Indian restaurant, when we visited Vancouver. Oh wait, that's BC! And in all these years, I've seen only one friend make it for a party, and yes indeed, I am her fan!

Kathal stands for raw jackfruit. Jackfruit resembles the very infamous durian- that stinky fruit, that supposedly tastes heavenly (I have never tasted one). Ripe jackfruit is yellow in color, sweet, juicy and delicious. The seed can also be used in cooking- when roasted, it has a nice nutty flavor, and just delicious. Unripe, raw jackfruit is of course, not yet sweet, and in this stage, can be used as a vegetable. Neat! Here's some more info on the Jackfruit.

For our convenience here, we get to use the canned stuff- first of all, you will not find fresh raw, or ripe for that matter, jackfruit. I have seen it sometimes at the Asian store, but it always looks so sad!

Here is the recipe that I learned from my friend. This is with 1 can. If you want to make it for more than a couple people, then obviously increase the quantity of the ingredients (Did you just go Duh?!).


1. Young Green Jackfruit- 1 can

Canned stuff (that thing behind is my nifty can opener)
2. Onion- 1/2 a medium size, thinly sliced

3. Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp to 2 tsp or more, per your liking

4. Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp to 2 tsp or more, per your liking

5. Red Chili powder- per taste

6. Cumin seeds- 1/2 to 1 tsp

7. Turmeric powder- a pinch

8. Oil to cook- a few tablespoons

9. Salt per taste


Note: If you want to prepare this dish for lunch, I'd do the following in the morning itself, or at least a couple hours in advance.

1. Open the can(s), and transfer all contents into a colander, so as to drain out all the liquid.

Drain out liquid, retain the jackfruit

2. Give the jackfruit a good rinse with cold water, and leave it to air out. The idea is to get rid of the "canny" smell- so I'd do this whole airing-out thing for minimum 2 hours.

3. After you are satisfied with the above step, lay out all the jackfruit pieces on a towel/couple paper towels, so as to blot out any remaining moisture. And now you are ready to cook!

Blot out that moisture!

1. Pour in a few tablespoons of oil (the more, the better! No, really!) in a pan. Get the heat going. Splutter some cumin seeds, and throw in the sliced onions, followed by a pinch of turmeric, and sauté the onions.

2. Just as the onions start becoming translucent, throw in the jackfruit. P.S. I like to cut the jackfruit pieces into halves, to get nice bite-size pieces.

3. Add salt per taste, cumin powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, and continue frying. You could add some slit green chilies instead of red chili powder, if you'd like, or both.

4. You don't really need to add any water to cook the jackfruit, because it is anyway quite soft, since it is after all from a can. Just lower the heat, and cover the pan for about 5-10 minutes, to sort of get all the flavors going.

5. That's pretty much it! Remove the lid, and continue frying for another 15-20 minutes. Give it a taste. Adjust spices if needed. And if you think it tastes good, then switch off the stove, and serve it with hot rotis, parathas, or as a side. Garnish with some fresh coriander leaves/cilantro before serving.

Note: You could add some aamchur i.e. dried mango powder, for some sour factor, but I have found that canned jackfruit already is slightly sour, and so I don't add aamchur.

Kathal ki Sabzi

I simply love this vegetable/fruit. There are a couple more recipes that I shall post in the coming weeks. I believe there is a lovely dessert too, that they make with the ripe fruit. And jackfruit chips are simply amazing.

The next time you have a party, ditch the same old matar paneer, and instead make kathal ki sabzi. Your friends will appreciate it!

Interesting to Note:

*Because of the texture of the very versatile jackfruit, a lot of pure vegetarians dislike this preparation, because it makes them think of meat.

*At the same time, a lot of people love it, because it makes them think that they are eating meat. Hence the term, vegetarian meat. ;)

*Then again, some pure meat eaters dislike it coz they'd rather eat the real stuff! Kinda like the real meat versus soy "meat" scenario….

*And then there is the no-fuss kind, such as yours truly, who simply love it, no matter what! ;)

Special Thanks to my dear friend, M, for rekindling my love for kathal!

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