With the start of Navratri festivities, houses and surroundings have been cleaned and dusted to welcome Maa Durga into our homes and hearts. Devotees fast and pray for a 10-day duration to invoke the blessings of the divine Mother who is worshipped as a different avatar on each day. While some undertake strict fasting, consuming only fruits and water during the day, others restrict themselves to vegetarian meals and sweets. One of my staple go-to recipes during this pious period is the classic jackfruit curry, well known as carri zak among locals.

Jackfruit is a large tough skinned vegetable that is readily available in many backyards but if you have trouble locating the plant next door, you will find it easier to get skinned and sliced jackfruit in strategic bazaar/market locations or even supermarkets these days. If you have to deal with a whole fresh fruit right off the tree, the recipe below starts off with some important tips to do away with the sticky sap. The fleshy, meat-like texture of jackfruit can then be added to simple curries as well as more elaborate dishes like biryani or pulao.

JACKFRUIT CURRY/ CARRI ZAK

Ingredients:

1 large unripe jackfruit

2 large potatoes, peeled

1 large brown onion, sliced

1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric/ safran

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste

3 large tomatoes, chopped

Fresh curry leaves/ fey carri poulet

Fresh coriander leaves

Method:

  • Raw jackfruit gives off a thick and sticky whitish secretion that makes it difficult to cut and clean up.

  • It is important to prepare the work surface by covering it with sheets of newspaper to prevent stains.

  • Keep vegetable oil ready in a small container. Grease the blade of sharp knife with oil before cutting.

  • Grease both of your palms well with oil before starting to cut through the thick skin of raw jackfruit.

  • Cut the fruit into 2-inch slices and remove the skin. Next remove the thick central part of each slice.

  • Remove any large seeds, chop each piece into chunks. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent browning.

  • Blanch the chopped jackfruit in a large pan of boiling water for about 10 to 15 minutes till it softens.

  • Drain well and set aside. Cut potatoes into quarters and boil them till soft but still holding its shape.

  • In a frying pan, fry onions until translucent. Add the spices, salt and ginger-garlic paste and stir fry.

  • Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup water, cook it for 5 minutes.

  • Add blanched jackfruit and boiled potatoes to sauce and cover pan. Simmer over medium low heat.

  • After 15 minutes, remove curry from heat and sprinkle with chopped cilantro leaves before serving.

Zak dan Masala