Jack of all fruit!

The luscious Mango is generally referred to as the King of all fruit in India. If there is a King of fruit, stands to reason there must be a Jack of all fruit – behold the Jackfruit! This fruit is a particular favorite in India with its buttery yellow, smooth tasting, deliciously sweet sections and large oval crumbly pits, which taste really yummy when smothered in spicy sauces. On the outside the jackfruit looks like a huge prickly pear, hanging low from the trunk of a large perennial tree. Each tree bears many Jackfruit every season. And generally the fruit is so large that one family cannot consume it, so it is usually sold cut. In India, the jackfruit is eaten both ripe (as a fruit) or raw, as in a curry.

The jackfruit is native to southwestern India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Sri Lanka and possibly, east of the Malay Peninsula. It is said to be the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, with its diameter being at least 25 cm. There can be jackfruit measuring as much as 36 kg (80 lbs) weight, 90 cm in length and 50 cm in diameter. The best part of the fruit is that even its seeds have been found to have a high nutritional value. Jackfruits are rich in potassium, phytonutrients, isoflavones, antioxidants and vitamin C with health benefits ranging from anti-cancer to antihypertensive. It is also believed to have anti-ageing properties since the fruit can help slow down the degeneration of cells and make the skin look young and supple.

My trip to Delhi resulted in one of my favorite jaunts, a visit to the local “haat” or weekly market. These haats are the best way to get produce from market to table – direct from the farmer, something like our local farmer’s markets. Only, they seem larger than the ones I have attended in the US. Not only that, the haats are almost full to bursting with so many fruit, vegetables, sundry toys, goods and other items that are sold in carts, that they become almost like a trade fair.

During one such visit to a haat, my sister-in-law Kavita, bought some raw jackfruit from the local vegetable vendor who had large, raw,  jackfruit in carts. The vendor would cut, weigh and wrap portions of the fruit in old newspaper for each customer. The raw jackfruit is generally used in curries or pickled. I will post my mother-in-law’s raw jackfruit pickle recipe in another post.

This is Kavita’s recipe for raw jackfruit curry- I can vouch for the yummy taste. I just loved it and thought I would share with my readers so you can try this if you ever have an opportunity to buy raw jackfruit.

Here is what you need:
20 2″ pieces of raw jackfruit
3 medium onions (finely chopped)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil

Here is how you make this very easy dish:
Steam jackfruit pieces with the turmeric powder until soft – about 10 minutes. In a pan, heat oil. Fry the finely chopped onion. Dissolve chilli powder and coriander powder in 2 tsp water and set aside. Add the steamed jackfruit and the dissolved spice powders. Add salt and saute on slow fire for about 15 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rotis or rice.

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