What happens, when a Konkani visits Kerala for vacation? Well, it is like a home coming which is what I experienced when I took a vacation to Kerala last year. The breath taking beauty of coastlines, canvas of beaches, houses built of laterite stones and the striking resemblance of food items used in the cuisines. The list includes fishes, coconuts and many more food items. However, in today’s blog I would like to discuss about a fruit that is also a vegetable. You must have guessed it by now that I am referring to jackfruit.
Jackfruit is a much neglected fruit in both Konkan and Kerala or for that matter anywhere in India where this fruit is cultivated it does not get much respect from us. The jackfruit has 2 varieties, Barka (known as Koozha in kerala) and Kaapa (known as Varikka). Kaapa is the hard variety (crunchier, dry, less sweet) and more preferred than its counterpart Barka which is moist and sweeter. Barka (or Koozha) forms almost 60% of the jackfruit cultivation and ends up being wasted. The ripe and unripe variety both are used extensively in our cuisines. Ripe jackfruit is naturally sweet with subtle flavoring. It is used in range of dishes including custard, cakes, or in jackfruit flavored ice cream. Unripe variety is mostly used in many curries, side dishes, as a filling in cutlets and chops. Since the unripe variety has meat like taste and texture it is used in many curry dishes in North India, Andhra, Sri Lankan cuisines. It is also deep fried to form chips in Konkan and Kerala.
Phanasachi Bhaji is a stir fried vegetable preparation that is very popular in Konkan. This recipe is special because of usage of a spice that is not very popular outside Maharashtra (it is also used in Karnataka cuisine). We make use of Karale(Uchellu in Kannada and Niger seeds in English) Unfortunately, this spice has been losing its charm in today’s urban life and not many people would be able to identify this spice. This is still very prevalent in villages where farmers make chutney using Niger seeds and eat this chutney with bhakri (Indian bread). The addition of these seeds makes Phanasachi Bhaji more flavorful and aromatic. Finally we finish off the preparation with generous amount of grated coconut that imparts this dish a true Konkani flavor.
- 750 grams raw jackfruit cut into medium sized pieces
- 2 large sized onion cut lengthwise
- 1½ cup fresh grated coconut
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 3 tsp red chili powder (byadagi)
- 2 tsp garam masala powder
- 2 tbsp Niger seeds (karale/Ramtil)
- Cooking Oil
- We are going to steam raw jackfruit pieces in a steamer. Add a glass of water at the bottom of vessel and place the plate with pores in the vessel.
- If steamer is not available, you can also steam the jackfruit pieces in a pressure cooker.
- Place the jackfruit pieces on top of the plate and cover the steamer with the lid.
- After 20-25 minutes jackfruit is properly cooked. Turn off the flame and allow it to cool down.
- Heat a pan and dry roast niger seeds in the pan for 1-2 mins.
- Grind the niger seeds into coarse powder.
- Shred all the jackfruit pieces.
- Heat 4 tbsp oil in a pan. Add Onions and fry them until they are light brown.
- Onions turn light brown in 4 minutes on low flame .
- Now add turmeric powder, red chili powder and garam masala powder and fry them for 1 minute.
- Now add jackfruit shreds to the pan and mix it well. No water is added in this recipe.
- In 5 minutes jackfruit gets nicely cooked. Now add niger seeds powder and cook it for 1 min.
- After 1 min, add salt as per taste and mix it well.
- Finally add fresh coconut and mix it well. Turn off the flame.
Click here to watch recipe video