Jack-fruit, popularly known as phanas or kathal, grows widely along the coastal belt of India. I first saw it growing wild along road sides while my husband and I were on our holiday to Kerela. Unlike other fruit bearing trees where typically the kids don’t let the fruit sit on the branch till it ripens, here it was dangling happily from its branches, left unbothered and completely ignored.
I learnt from the hotel concierge that unlike in the north, where the jackfruit is preferred green and raw and cooked as savoury or pickled, down south people let it ripen and enjoy eating its sweet seeds. Apparently that is how it is enjoyed along most of the coastal states. I tried the seeds later here at Mumbai but my palate didn’t quite agree with its taste.
However, jack-fruit in a kofta avatar was a very fascinating idea to me. Last year while on a visit to my in-laws, my mum-in-laws made these koftas and asked me to take a guess what these koftas were made from. Honestly, it was difficult for me to judge that it was a vegetarian dish & I was pleasantly surprised to hear from her that it was jack-fruit kofta. These unusual koftas are utterly delectable; the texture and taste will remind you of the Galouti Kebab.
You will need,
250 grams jack-fruit (peeled and chopped in chunks)
A pinch asafoetida
1/2 tsp salt
½ tsp ginger garlic paste
½ tsp garam masala powder
¾ cup besan (ground bengal gram)
A generous pinch of fruit salt (I use Eno)
Salt & Red Chili to taste (I used ½ tsp of salt and ¼ tsp chili)
Oil for frying
1½ – 2 tbsp oil
1 pinch asafoetida
½ tsp cumin seeds
3 medium onions (grated)
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 medium tomato (grated or finely chopped)
½ tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste
2 cups water
2 tsp fresh chopped coriander (for garnish)
Boil the jack-fruit with half a tsp of salt and asafoetida till it is tender. (I pressure cooked them till one whistle escaped)
Grind it to a coarse paste using minimal amount of water in a mixer-grinder. (I added water by 1 tsp at a time and approximately used 1 tbsp in all)
In a wok, on low heat, roast the besan till it starts emanating aroma and starts to change the colour (approx. 7-10 minutes)
Cool and add the besan along with the rest of the kofta ingredients to the jack-fruit With a spoon or hands gently mix everything together. Make balls and keep them aside on a greased plate.
Heat oil and add asafoetida. Add the kofta balls in batches and fry them on a medium low heat till golden brown. Remove on a kitchen towel and keep aside.
(This amount of batter yielded approx. 16 koftas)
Heat the oil and add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Once they crackle, add the onions and on medium heat fry till they turn goldenish brown.
Add 2-3 tbsp of water and add the ginger garlic paste. Fry till the masala becomes aromatic and brownish again.
Add the tomato and rest of the gravy ingredients. Fry them on low heat till the oil separates
Add water and let the masala come to a boil. Add koftas and cook further for 3-5 minutes on medium low heat.
Garnish with chopped fresh coriander and serve hot with chapatti or rice.
Note: You may need to add water again before serving coz the gravy will thicken as the koftas absorb the moisture.
Note: Feel free to alter the amount of spices mentioned here.
Yield: 16 koftas (the size shown here).
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