Although jackfruit is not that common in North American groceries, it is definitely worth seeking out. This fruit originally from Southern India is now grown widely throughout Southeast Asia and is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching up to 80 lbs! Don’t fear, however, you won’t have to tackle an 80 lb beast to make this delicious meat-less curry. In fact, I would wager that you won’t even miss the meat since unripe jackfruit when cooked has the texture of meat. Although durian has the reputation for being the king of fruits, I think ripe jackfruit could be a close contender. The flesh when ripe turns a bright golden yellow and is intensely sweet, however, the smell always reminded me of rotting onions. The unripe or green fruit itself is very mellow and will absorb the flavor of whatever it is cooked in. In this recipe I chose to do a Sri Lankan style curry, but jackfruit works equally well with Malaysian curry powder or could be substituted in your favorite Thai curry. Cans of unripe or green jackfruit are also easily found in Asian grocery stores. Look for the jackfruit packed in brine. I prefer Asia’s Best brand.
Sri Lankan Green Jackfruit Curry
6 – 20 ounce cans of green jackfruit
2 onions, minced
4 red finger hot chilis, minced
10 cloves garlic, minced
4 inch knob of ginger, minced
2 sprigs of curry leaves
4 tsp chili powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
6 tsp curry powder
8 green cardamom pods
8 whole cloves
1 2 inch cinnamon stick
2 cans of coconut milk
salt to taste
1. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large pan and fry the onions, chilis, garlic, ginger, and curry leaves until they start to soften and become fragrant.
2. Add all of your spices and fry with the onion mixture until the mixture becomes fragrant.
3. Add your drained jackfruit and coconut milk and simmer over low heat. If you don’t have enough liquid to cover all of the jackfruit, add a little more coconut milk or water. I think it tastes best if you allow it to simmer for a few hours over very low heat. Be careful though not to let it burn. Another option is to pour it into your slow cooker at this point to continue cooking.