Called "polos" in Sri Lanka, jackfruit has a texture that's remarkably similar to chicken or white meat. It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin B6 and fibre, and this giant tropical fruit is experiencing a sort of renaissance as vegans and vegetarians around the world go crazy for it! So, when my good friends at Cha's Organics asked me to test one of their jackfruit recipes, I was delighted (although I won't pretend I didn't ask my Sri Lankan 'Aunty' Janaki to help me out!). Coconut milk, spices and jackfruit come together in this traditional Sri Lankan curry that will keep you coming back for more. Serve it with heirloom red rice and maybe some gotu kola mallum (that's Sri Lanka's answer to tabouleh – made from chopped leafy greens, with chilli, lime and freshly grated coconut).
2 tbsp coconut oil or your choice of vegetable oil
1 white onion, minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
5 cm fresh ginger root, minced
10-15 curry leaves
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
5 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon quill
2 tbsp turmeric powder
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 cube of organic vegetable broth or sea salt (as preferred)
2 cans young jackfruit
1 can curry masala coconut milk
crushed chili pepper (optional)
Small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
2 limes, in wedges
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or casserole and brown the onion, garlic and ginger until golden. In a blender or coffee grinder, grind fenugreek, curry leaves, cardamom, clove and coriander seeds. Add to the contents of the pan with cinnamon and turmeric and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes and salt and cook 2 to 3 minutes before incorporating the jackfruit pieces, coconut milk, sugar and chili. Simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until the jackfruit is tender. Adjust the seasoning to taste and add chopped cilantro before serving the curry with lime wedges. Serve over rice or lentils.
Side note: this recipe cooks very well in a slow cooker. For an exotic twist, this curry tastes wonderful with the addition of pineapple pieces: just add about a cup at the same time as the jackfruit and omit the coconut sugar if very sweet.