KATHAL SABZI –  कटहल की सब्ज़ी (Spicy Jackfruit Curry)

Raw and unripe, Kathal or jackfruit has been a very popular vegetable in India. It has been considered as the faux meat for vegetarians since its rich taste and fibrous texture gives it the character which closely resembes mutton. The only condition for making a delicious kathal curry is that the kathal should not be too mature since the ‘flesh’ becomes more fibrous and it also develops large tough seeds. During the beginning of my blogging years, I had shared the kathal kofta curry which was very well received by the readers.

In my Sattu Kachori post I had shared how in my Bihari marital house, Holi has a standard menu of Dahi Bhalle which is served with two chutneys, Gujiya (puff pastry filled with milk solids and nuts), Chhena Malpua (Cottage Cheese Pancakes) and a rich mutton curry which is served with pua (a mildly sweet, deep fried pancake) which is not to be confused with the Malpua though.

While the non–vegetarians have their mutton curry, to go along with the pua, the vegetarians receive the pua along with the Kala Chana (brown chickpea curry) or the kathal sabzi (jackfruit curry). It is a lovely meal where the hot and spicy kathal or mutton curry pairs beautifully with the pua.

The pairing of the curry with pua makes it a very rich meal but this meal of mutton and pua or kathal with pua, is reserved only and only for the festival of Holi. Never again, through the year, will the mutton or any curry for that matter is served with pua.

You can enjoy this curry any time of the year and it pairs well with parathas, roti, rice, naan.

2 – 3 tbsp cooking Oil (for frying the jackfruit)

250 gm Kathal (Jackfruit), peeled weight

2 – 3 tbsp Mustard Oil or any cooking oil of your choice (for frying the masala)

1 large Bay leaf

2 Whole Red Chillies, broken in two

1 large Black Cardamom

½ inch Cinnamon Stick

3 Cloves

10 – 12 Black Pepper Corns

¼ tsp Asafoetida

1 C (130 gm approx) sliced Onions

½ tsp Ginger Garlic Paste

½ tsp finely chopped Ginger

2 – 3 cloves Garlic, crushed

½ tsp Salt (adjust to taste)

½ tsp Degi Mirch Powder

¼ Red Chilli Powder (adjust heat to taste)

½ tsp Turmeric Powder

1 tsp Coriander Powder

¾ tsp Roasted Cumin Powder

¼ tsp Garam Masala Powder

I usually get my jackfruit peeled by the green grocer but if you get the kathal with its skin, grease your hands with oil before peeling the thick outer skin of the jackfruit. Greasing your hands is essential since the jackfruit will release a sticky gummy kind of milk, which can even lead to itching in the hands.

Slice and chop the jackfruit to inch size pieces. Add half a cup of water  to a pressure cooker and pressure cook the pieces till they are half done. Should take one to two pressure whistles depending on how mature the jackfruit is. Drain the water.

Heat oil for frying, and fry the pieces (in two batches). Add one eight teaspoon of asafoetida while frying. Fry each batch for one and a half to two minutes on high heat. Keep tossing the pieces around for even colour and cooking. Remove the fried pieces on an absorbent sheet or tissue. Set aside. (add more oil only if required)

For making the masala, heat the oil in a cooking pot or a frying pan or a wok and add the whole red chillies, black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black peppercorns. Be careful as the peppercorns and cloves are likely to burst in the oil. Add bay leaf. Fry the whole spices for ten seconds.

(If using mustard oil, ensure that you smoke the oil well else the curry will reek of pungent smell of mustard oil. Lower the temperature and wait for a few seconds before adding the whole spices else they will burn in the hot mustard oil)

Add sliced onions and fry till they just begin to turn golden. Add finely chopped ginger and crushed garlic and fry till the onions turn golden brown in colour. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and add the ginger garlic paste. Fry till the paste is cooked well and it no longer smells raw.

Reduce the heat and add one tablespoon of water and add salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala powder. Stir well. (I sometimes add a one tablespoons of thick yogurt to the masala, at this point) Add the fried jackfruit and keep cooking the contents on medium heat for two minutes, stirring the every now and then. Add a few tablespoons of water if required, reduce the heat, cover and cook till the jackfruit is done.

If the jackfruit needs to be pressure cooked, add half a cup of water (or as required) and pressure cook till the jackfruit is nicely done. I always use the pressure cooker since it saves time, fuel and also cooks the jackfruit really well. (Please don’t ask me how much time it takes to cook in a pan since I have never dared to do that because of the time it takes to cook)

Serve with roti, naan or rice along with a simple salad of sliced onions and cucumbers sprinkled with kala namak and drizzled with lemon juice.

Serves – 3 to 4

Note – The onions need to be fried on high heat. Frying them on low heat will sweeten them and this will sweeten the curry.

Note – For a thicker curry, I sometimes grate the onions instead of thinly slicing them.

Thank you for your visit and see you soon again, with another exciting recipe

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