Jackfruit or fanas (Marathi) is a summer favorite. Every region in India has their own way of cooking this meaty vegetable, called katahal in Hindi and echorer in Bengali.
This Jackfruit Curry or Jackfruit Masala is actually a fake Mutton Masala, with the kind of spice paste typically used to make a meat curry. With the unique texture of jackfruit, this looks and tastes like meat alright, but the recipe is 100% vegan.
This particular spice paste is so yum you’ll be licking your fingers, promise. It is much different from the same old onion-tomato gravy that Indian food is largely associated with. So trust the recipe and try making this sometime.
The whole jackfruit is prickly and green on the outside. An average jackfruit is easily 2-3 kilos in weight. The insides are made up of the petals or the ‘gare’, the seeds or ‘athlya’ and the meaty parts or ‘charkhand’.
Jackfruit can be enjoyed raw or ripe. The raw fruit is used to make savory dishes like curries. Innovative uses are tikkis or patties, or any where you’d want to use a faux meat. The ripe jackfruit is almost a delicacy. Sweet and heady, it exudes a fruity aroma that perfumes the atmosphere. These ripe jackfruit petals are sold by the road side in the summer months and they make a delicious snack.
Gently roasting spices is the secret to this aromatic masala or spice paste. White poppy seeds are easily available in Indian grocery stores or on Amazon. You can use sesame seeds instead if you don’t get them. I haven’t used sesame seeds now since it is 100F outside and sesame seeds generate a lot of heat in the body.
I flame roast the onion but you can also sauté it in a bit of oil in case you don’t have a gas range. The sauce should be thick like a stew. You can either add less or more water depending on your preference. I suggest a thinner sauce if you want to serve this curry with rice. I served it with roti so I simmered the jackfruit until most of the liquid was absorbed.
Cooking the jackfruit might take some more time. I added pressure cooked jackfruit to the spice paste. You can simmer the jackfruit in the spice paste until it is tender and falling apart. A slow cooker would also be great to cook this type of curry.
Jackfruit Curry or Fanas Masala Recipe
- 2 medium onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 inch piece ginger
- 3 Tbsp white poppy seeds
- 3 Tbsp dry coconut (unsweetened)
- 4-6 cups jackfruit flesh
- 4 Tbsp + 1 tsp oil
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp turmeric, ground
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp coriander, ground
- 1-2 tsp brown sugar or jiggery
- salt to taste
- coriander for garnish
- Cut the jackfruit into chunks and pressure cook or set aside. The jackfruit is a bit sticky.
- Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Gently roast ginger, garlic, coconut and poppy seeds one by one. The coconut and poppy seeds burn quickly so be careful with them.
- Flame roast the onions directly on the gas flame or sauté chunks of onion in the pan.
- Allow the roasted items to cool completely.
- Blend the poppy seeds, coconut, onion, ginger and garlic in a food processor or blender with a little water to get a smooth paste.
- Heat oil in a wok or sauce pan.
- Add the spice paste and fry it gently for 10-15 minutes until it is aromatic and oil separates from the side. You might want to add splashes of water occasionally to keep the paste from sticking to the pan.
- When the spice paste becomes aromatic and toasty, add ground turmeric, cayenne and coriander. Add garam masala.
- Now add the jackfruit and stir well.
- Add a cup or two of water to get a thick sauce.
- Add salt to taste and a teaspoon of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer.
- If you are using cooked jackfruit, you just need to simmer for 5-10 minutes until the flavors come together. if not, cover the pot and continue to cook until jackfruit softens and starts falling apart.
- Serve with Naan or Roti or plain rice.
Jackfruit Curry is a delicacy that is made maybe once a year. It has tremendous appeal because of that. In certain coastal areas of India, jackfruit curry is served at weddings.
If you can ever get your hands on a jackfruit, don’t hesitate to try this curry. It’s going to be a crowd favorite. Other meaty veggies like pumpkin would work very well with this spice paste. So would tofu.