Thursday, 13 April 2017

Enchor er halka jhol / Kathal ki tariwali sabzi / Raw Jackfruit cooked in a light gravy

Kathal er jhol
 All my life I have heard that Kathal or the raw Jackfruit is the vegetarian equivalent of meat. Probably due to its resemblance as well as its iron and fibre content.
And so has to be cooked like meat .... complete with onions and ginger and garlic paste and smothered with garam masalas, a dash of curd, etc. etc.
Now .... I have not had a great relationship with the raw jackfruit. Ever.
Not as an adult. Never as a child.
While I loved, and still do, the ripe jackfruit and can never fathom why many people in my home wrinkled their noses at its smell, I never gave a thought, leave alone a second look to any kathal dish on the table.
If I had to eat meat, I always had chicken or mutton. Why on earth would people cook a vegetable with a huge fuss, just pretending it to be meat or like meat ... I could never understand.
Thus was the story till I got married.

At the time, raw jackfruit was either not readily available in Pune or I did not know the right places to look it for. And I had no reason to do so too.
But it turned out that the husband loves jackfruit curry. Which obviously led me to asking around for places where I could find it.
I do not remember exactly where I found it finally and when. Maybe in the Mandai.
All I remember is the piece that I got looked very limp, yellow and dry.

Came back home and started to prep it ... which turned into something hugely disastrous. After 1 full hour and half a bottle of mustard oil smeared all over my hands and fingers, which still stuck to each other in that sticky white glue, a little knife all smeared with oil and glue that barely scratched the kathal, I was almost in tears.
And gave up.

Trying washing my hands was another story.
Finally I called Didi. She patiently explained how to go about the whole thing.
But all I was interested in was to get my hands and fingers clean.
And promised myself that I will never touch the darned thing again.

Kathal curry
But that was not to be.
I did venture into dealing with it again. And learnt slowly.
Now, I know how to handle and cut a raw jackfruit without any hassles. 
I ask the green grocer to peel it and cut it into big chunks .... maybe two or three chunks for half a kilo of kathal
All I do is wash them under running water and cook it with some salt and turmeric powder, in the pressure cooker, for two whistles on medium heat.
And then, cutting it is a breeze.

Earlier, following hearsay, I have tried cooking the kathal just like meat is cooked. Lots of ginger garlic paste, onion, garam masalas, etc. etc.
But, very truthfully, have never quite enjoyed it.
B would eat it happily, but only once or twice. Not more than that.

This time, I decided to go by my instincts.
Had boiled and frozen a good kathal, but could not decide on a recipe.
Finally, I decided to try a light version. The hot weather played its part too.
And it was a vegetarian day for me ... so I wanted something that I too will eat without much ado ... thus saving me for making something for myself.
And settled on this recipe .... something that will have a hint of garam masala flavours but not very rich with garlic or onions.
I wanted a thin, light gravy that will allow the taste of the raw jackfruit to come through.

And what I got in the end is a very well flavoured light gravy with the kathal flavours shining through. I had added boiled potatoes, since the kathal was already cooked, and they soaked up the flavours of the gravy beautifully.

Need :

Raw jackfruit / Enchor / Kathal - ¼ kg,
( pressure cooked for two whistles on low heat, with a little salt and cut into medium sized pieces)
Boiled potatoes - 4 , cut into cubes
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp 
Black cardamom - 1, crushed 
Tej pata / Bay leaf - 1 
Dry red chillies - 2, broken
Grated ginger - 1 tsp
Tomato - 3, pureed
Haldi / Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Dhaniya / Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin powder - 1 tsp ( I used my roasted jeera powder )
Oil - 3 tbsp ( I use mustard oil )
Ghee - 1 tsp(skip it if you are vegan )
Salt - to taste
Kathal curry

How to :
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil.
Fry the kathal cubes.
Remove and keep aside.

Heat the rest of the oil.

Add the cardamom + jeera + tej pata + dry red chilli + grated ginger.
Stir and add the tomato puree immediately.

Add haldi + mirchi + dhania powder + jeera powder.
Fry well, on high heat, till oil starts to leave sides.

Add enough water for a gravy.
Let in the cut potatoes and kathal.
Adjust salt.
Cover and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer covered for 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove cover.
Add ghee.

Cover, simmer for a minute and then remove from heat.
Let it stand for 5 minutes, covered.

Serve hot.
Jackfruit curry
This curry goes great with everything ... rice, rotis, luchi or parathas.


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