And so has to be cooked like meat .... complete with onions and ginger and garlic paste and smothered with garam masalas, a dash of curd, etc. etc.
Now .... I have not had a great relationship with the raw jackfruit. Ever.
Not as an adult. Never as a child.
While I loved, and still do, the ripe jackfruit and can never fathom why many people in my home wrinkled their noses at its smell, I never gave a thought, leave alone a second look to any kathal dish on the table.
If I had to eat meat, I always had chicken or mutton. Why on earth would people cook a vegetable with a huge fuss, just pretending it to be meat or like meat ... I could never understand.
Thus was the story till I got married.
At the time, raw jackfruit was either not readily available in Pune or I did not know the right places to look it for. And I had no reason to do so too.
But it turned out that the husband loves jackfruit curry. Which obviously led me to asking around for places where I could find it.
I do not remember exactly where I found it finally and when. Maybe in the Mandai.
All I remember is the piece that I got looked very limp, yellow and dry.
Came back home and started to prep it ... which turned into something hugely disastrous. After 1 full hour and half a bottle of mustard oil smeared all over my hands and fingers, which still stuck to each other in that sticky white glue, a little knife all smeared with oil and glue that barely scratched the kathal, I was almost in tears.
And gave up.
Trying washing my hands was another story.
Finally I called Didi. She patiently explained how to go about the whole thing.
But all I was interested in was to get my hands and fingers clean.
And promised myself that I will never touch the darned thing again.
I did venture into dealing with it again. And learnt slowly.
Now, I know how to handle and cut a raw jackfruit without any hassles.
I ask the green grocer to peel it and cut it into big chunks .... maybe two or three chunks for half a kilo of kathal.
All I do is wash them under running water and cook it with some salt and turmeric powder, in the pressure cooker, for two whistles on medium heat.
And then, cutting it is a breeze.
Earlier, following hearsay, I have tried cooking the kathal just like meat is cooked. Lots of ginger garlic paste, onion, garam masalas, etc. etc.
But, very truthfully, have never quite enjoyed it.
B would eat it happily, but only once or twice. Not more than that.
This time, I decided to go by my instincts.
Had boiled and frozen a good kathal, but could not decide on a recipe.
Finally, I decided to try a light version. The hot weather played its part too.
And it was a vegetarian day for me ... so I wanted something that I too will eat without much ado ... thus saving me for making something for myself.
And what I got in the end is a very well flavoured light gravy with the kathal flavours shining through. I had added boiled potatoes, since the kathal was already cooked, and they soaked up the flavours of the gravy beautifully.
Boiled potatoes - 4 , cut into cubes
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Dhaniya / Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin powder - 1 tsp ( I used my roasted jeera powder )
Oil - 3 tbsp ( I use mustard oil )
Ghee - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
How to :
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil.
Fry the kathal cubes.
Remove and keep aside.
Heat the rest of the oil.
Add the cardamom + jeera + tej pata + dry red chilli + grated ginger.
Stir and add the tomato puree immediately.
Add haldi + mirchi + dhania powder + jeera powder.
Fry well, on high heat, till oil starts to leave sides.
Add enough water for a gravy.
Let in the cut potatoes and kathal.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer covered for 5 to 7 minutes.
Cover, simmer for a minute and then remove from heat.
Let it stand for 5 minutes, covered.