We descended upon our local Asian shop the day before yesterday and stocked up on some of the things we needed. Fortunately, there was a bit more in the coffers than usual, so I went a bit mad.
Actually, that’s not strictly true. I just decided to buy food rather than pay my phone bill.
Anyway, the main point is that stocks were replenished. I picked up 12 tins of tomatoes for €3.99 and paid €4.99 for a dozen cans of chickpeas. Chillies were €5.99 per kilo – I got about 30 of them for €0.24 – way cheaper than even the cheapest supermarket. Economies of scale, I think it’s called.
In the middle of all this cheapie-cheap stuff, I got us a treat: Jackfruit. If you have been to South East Asia, chances are you’ve come across durian. This is a large fruit (about the size of a basketball) that very prickly on the outside and, when cut, smells similar to cat’s pee. In colour and texture, it is similar to custard and it’s an acquired taste. A taste, I hasten to add, I never acquired.
The reason I mention durian is because jackfruit is its Indian first-cousin. Less cat-pee, less prickly and less custard-y, though – I love jackfruit. It’s in season at the moment and we picked up 1.5kg for €5.
After we’d had our fill of the fresh, raw fruit, I suddenly remembered that when I’d been pregnant with Kashmira (ten years ago!) our nanny used to make me a jackfruit curry. Normally, if you’re using a fruit in a curry, you use it when it’s slightly under-ripe. Jackfruit is an exception, though – you can use the under-ripe or the ripe fruit.
To the best of my recollection, this is the recipe Nishanthi used to cook for us:
150g Ripe Jackfruit
1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder
1/2 Teaspoon of Turmeric
Salt to Taste
100mls of Water
20g grated coconut (I use dried because I can’t get it fresh)
2 Fresh Green Chillies
1/2 Teaspoon of Cumin Seeds
1/2 Teaspoon of Mustard Seeds
1 Red Chilli
3-4 Curry Leaves
2 Teaspoons of Coconut Oil
Cut the jackfruit into bite-sized pieces.
Put jackfruit, salt, turmeric, chilli powder and water into a medium-sized saucepan.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for about ten minutes.
While the jackfruit is cooking, make a paste using the grated coconut, chillies and cumin seeds (grind with a blender, adding a little water as necessary).
When the jackfruit is done – it will be tender but not mushy and still holding its shape – add the paste to the fruit and bring the lot back to the boil.
Heat the coconut oil in a small pan, and add the chillies, curry leaves and mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to sputter, remove from the heat and pour over the curry.
Cooking the fruit changes the texture completely.
The raw fruit is quite sweetly pungent – though not unpleasant – it hits the back of your throat rather than the tip of the tongue. It has a thick texture – similar to that of raw mushrooms. Cooked, it’s more like stewed apple before it gets pulpy.
If you can get your hands on a bit of jackfruit, it’s an interesting addition to the dinner table.