Not many folks are familiar with Jackfruit. Is it a fruit or a vegetable some will ask! And even fewer folks are aware that the ripe jackfruit is very different from the raw aka green or tender jackfruit. Well if you are new to jackfruit (or rather if Jackfruit is new to you), no worries, I can sort things out for you! Having grown up in a tropical country and especially hailing from Kerala in southern India where Jackfruits are in abundance through out the summer season, I definitely have enough experience with them!
OK, so for starters, Jackfruit is the biggest fruit in the world. It can weigh anywhere between 10 to 25 pounds! An so when the ripened fruit falls down from the tree, there is definitely a loud thud! It has been considered a poor man’s fruit since it can feed an entire family for a few meals! In Kerala, I remember from my summer vacation days how there would be a big ritual for cutting the ripe fruit and separating out the individual segments. Each segment has a large seed in it and so that seed has to be pulled out too. Since the exterior of the fruit has a lot of sticky sap, coconut oil is first applied to the hands before handling the fruit. Even the knives are treated with coconut oil so as to prevent the knife from getting sticky. As kids, we would gather around the table where one of the adults would be cutting the gigantic fruit to watch and wait eagerly to grab the sweet and fragrant ripe segments! Ripe Jackfruit can be eaten as is fresh or it is also made into jellies and sweet marmalades (called as Chakka paayasam in Kerala) so it can be preserved for longer periods of time. In the US of late I have been pleasantly surprised to see ripe jackfruit appear in some specialty grocers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. If you need a demo on how to cut Jackfruit, you can watch it here. The seeds of the ripe fruit are also saved and cooked and added in curries and stews.
So that was all about the ripe jackfruit which is sweet in taste and used as a fruit. Next let’s talk about the young or tender jackfruit. Now the tender Jackfruit does not have seeds developed yet and hence cleaning and cutting them is much easier. If you happen to get your hands on a fresh tender jackfruit, then here is a nice tutorial on how to clean and chop it – here
Here in the US we get frozen fresh tender jackfruit and or canned green / tender jackfruit, which makes it really convenient to use them since you don’t have to do any chopping. Tender Jackfruit is wonderful when cooked in savory dishes and the recipe that I am sharing here below is that of a simple traditional way of cooking this tender fruit. The tender fruit has a very mild flavor of the fruit and hence takes up whatever flavors you cook it with. In this recipe, it is just the coconut oil and curry leaves that are the main flavors. Jackfruit has a low glycemic index and is hence a good alternative to rice in diabetics and those with blood sugar problems. In my Paleo lifestyle, I eat this dish as a side along with chicken or fish as my protein. If you have never tried tender jackfruit before, please try this recipe. I am sure you will find it delicious!
In addition to being a good source of carbs, Jackfruit is high in Magnesium and also vitamins like Vit C, Vit A and B6. Jackfruit is useful in boosting immunity and has proven to reduce cardiovascular risk. If you would like to read more about the health benefits of Jackfruit, check out this article. A word of caution though – some folks unfortunately can be allergic to Jackfruit so if your throat feels scratchy after eating a tiny bit, please stop and don’t eat any further as it could be an allergic reaction.
For this recipe, I use frozen tender jackfruit that I buy from our local Indian grocers. You could buy them from other asian grocers too. Again if buying a canned one, make sure they are ‘tender’ or ‘green’ jackfruit and not ‘ripe’ which would be sweet and hence not suitable for this recipe. Also, if you get the canned variety, make sure you get tender jackfruit that is in brine or water and not syrup (yikes!).
Also for the most authentic taste for this dish, the best way to make it is using a mortar and pestle to make the onion and garlic paste. If you don’t have that you could just finely chop all the ingredients.
- 3 cups tender jackfruit pieces (frozen or fresh or canned)
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¾ cup water (1/2 cup if using Instant Pot)
- ¼ cup chopped shallots or red onion
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 1 dried red kashmiri chilli (omit for AIP)
- 6-8 fresh curry leaves (or dried curry leaves)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- In a medium sauce pan, add the tender jackfruit along with the turmeric, salt and the water and place on the stove. Once the water starts boiling, lower heat to medium and cover with a lid and cook for about 7-8 minutes. Open the lid and check to see if the jackfruit is cooked (it should be soft but not too soft). If there is more water left in the pot then take the lid off and let simmer for a couple more mins so that the water evaporates off. Turn heat off. Keep aside. (If using Instant Pot, follow the same procedure adding less water as noted above and pressure cook for 5 mins and do a quick pressure release. Again heat on saute mode for a few mins to evaporate the water off)
- Add all the ingredients listed under 'for the tempering' except the coconut oil to a chopper and pulse for 10-20 secs to get a very coarse paste. Do not process for too long as it will shed water. If you have a mortar and pestle, use that instead to crush the onions and garlic. Keep this coarse paste aside.
- Take another small pan (or a tadka pan) and place on heat. Add the coconut oil. When hot add the onion garlic mixture and saute on low heat for about 3 -4 mins until the onions are golden brown and the curry leaves are also crisp. Turn heat off and pour this mixture onto the pot with the tender jackfruit. Stir to mix and serve warm or cold.
It is best to use a mortar and pestle to make the onion paste.