Don’t Hijack Our Jackfruit!

The versatility and meat-like texture of the jackfruit is sure to make it the next big food fad

9/1/2016 4:43:17 PM
written By : Shobha Tsering Bhalla Print

Brace yourself, the West has discovered jackfruit and they’re likening it to Pulled Pork! They’re using Jackfruit in lieu of the juicy pork filling used in Tacos and there’s even BBQ jackfruit sandwich!

That ginormous green thingmajig dangling impossibly from trees that were perreniels in our backyards when we were growing up – yes that old, ordinary warhorse of a fruit! 

This native Indian fruit is becoming such a popular vege-fruit among vegetarians and vegans that I shudder to think of the day when “organic jackfruit” (produced in Queensland maybe) and “extra virgin” jackfruit juice (from Florida, perhaps) start making their appearance in the supermarkets. Soon, I suspect, one kilo of the humble jackfruit will cost as much as one kilo of Wagyu Beef!

Anyway, till then I shall make the most of this versatile fruit which I get at a very reasonable price from my vegetable seller in Singapore's Tekka Market – all cut up and vacuum packed. 

Most of us who grew up in India and Bangladesh are familiar with delicious Kathal Dalna, Kathal Bhaji, Kathal Achar, Kathal Jam and Kathal Chips (both specialties of Kerala) and of course, juicy sweet, slightly mango-ish Kathal when it’s ripe. My mother used to make Kathal Achar (Jackfruit Pickle) in much the same way as Gobi-Gajar Achar is made. And her Kathal Curry and Dal with Kathal Seed was heavenly. Yes, the seeds are a bit like potatoes when boiled. A Jackfruit is a nutritional bonanza: high in potassium, vitamin B and protein, making it easy for die-hard non-vegetarians to be weaned away from meat. 

I love my mother’s Jackfruit Curry so much that although we’re not vegetarians, I make this dish and other variations of it about once a week and it’s such a family favourite that there are never any left-overs. When there are I bring them to the office in my lunchbox to share with my colleagues who rave about it.

So yes, the humble jackfruit is in danger of becoming the new culinary darling of the food flitterati. 

Apart from Jackfruit Curry, or Jackfruit Bhaji, etc the soft meaty flesh is so versatile you can even make delicious cutlets and chops. I’m planning to make a Jackfruit Biryani soon and will let you know how it turns out. Meanwhile, here are four finger-licking dishes that will have your family and friends flocking to your table.

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