Cook a mean biryani with tender jackfruit

Biryani, a rice dish flavoured with meat, vegetables and spices has many variations, depending on regional preferences. This variation, which uses tender jackfruit, a vegan substitute that resembles meat, is native to the state of Maharashtra. While this is definitely not recommended for regular consumption as a healthy low calorie dish, you can indulge in it occasionally when you crave for this sinfully rich delicacy. Don your apron, get your family and friends to pitch in, and immerse yourself in creating this dish fit for royalty, on this weekend.

Cooking biryani is easier said than done. Why would you spend an hour in the kitchen cooking biryani, when you can get it delivered piping hot to your home?

Spice up your Sunday morning by cooking  the perfect biryani for lunch

Well, as with many other things, the very process of making a biryani can be a delight to your senses. The blending together of cooked basmati rice, spices, saffron and herbs can make it one of the most relaxing experiences. Enlist the help of your partner, family members or friends and you will enjoy the process even more.

Weekends are fun times when my family looks forward to bonding over special meals. While we occasionally dine out, I also cook a variety of elaborate dishes for them. This way, they enjoy healthy and delicious food at home, made from the freshest and choicest of ingredients.

It is alarming to note that with rising consumerism and disposable incomes, the younger generation has taken to eating out like a duck to water. They have access to food anytime, at any place, and this has led to a rise in obesity and other health disorders at a very young age.

Eating out should be a ‘few and far-between’ indulgence to maintain good health and vitality

Eating out at restaurants or ordering food online regularly can jeopardize your health in a significant way, mostly because you never know what has gone into making the dish:

·  Commercially prepared food in restaurants is partially cooked in large batches and refrigerated, leading to nutrient loss.

·  In most cases, they cook food with oil that has been repeatedly used for deep frying. Consuming this oil leads to an increase in free radicals in the body, causing inflammation and thickening of the arteries.

·  There is a risk of food poisoning, infections and allergic reactions to certain foods.

·  To make food attractive, they use thickening agents such as highly processed flours, high quantity of sugar and salt, artificial flavouring, preservatives and colour. They also use unhealthy and cheap substitutes for certain expensive ingredients.

While awareness is setting in the restaurant business, you need to ensure the restaurant is safe and hygienic with acceptable standards in freshness and quality. However, weaning away from excessive eating at restaurants is an important change that you can make to enhance your health.

Home cooked food always works better because it is cooked:

  • With fresh and the choicest of ingredients
  • Under hygienic conditions
  • With less oil and devoid of unhealthy additives that contain preservatives and colours
  • In gravy made from healthy substances such as herbs  onion, tomato, cashew nuts, curd, milk, cheese, chickpea flour and others
  • And served piping hot, fresh off the stove
Embrace good health by eating home-cooked food

Listed below are a few things that you need to keep in mind before you take up this project:

  • Ensure you have time at your disposal. Choose a weekend for this relaxed project.
  • Enlist help from family or friends so that you don’t feel overwhelmed, though I can assure you that it is a relatively easy dish to prepare.
  • Put all the ingredients together before hand. Delegate the task of buying fresh ingredients such as herbs to enjoy their aroma and flavour. Making biryani is as much about the delight to the senses as it is a dish to be savoured.
  • Get the chopping done by someone who is skilled in it and can provide the desired output safely.

With this Biryani recipe, I hope to introduce you to the joy of cooking an elaborate one-dish meal that you can prepare leisurely with your family and friends.  You will enjoy cooking it up as much as you will, digging into its sumptuousness.

TENDER JACKFRUIT BIRYANI

Choose a tender jackfruit that is slightly bumpy, indicating good seed formation and texture

Biryanis are predominantly made with rice, meat, dry fruits, spices, herbs and saffron. This recipe is an interesting variation with tender jackfruit, which is considered an excellent vegan substitute for meat due to its similarity in texture and to some extent, in the taste.

Pick a jackfruit that is not too tender, somewhere less than half its mature size. The seeds are dense in nutrients and taste great as well. So look out for slight bumps that are indicative of seed formation.

Health benefits

Higher in Vitamins A, B and C than apples, apricots, bananas and avocados, it is one of the rare fruits with a generous quantity of Vitamin B. It also supplies folate, niacin, riboflavin, calcium, potassium and magnesium that are precursors for growth and peak functioning of our body. Antioxidants such as carotenoids that are present in the pulp and more so in the seeds, provide protection from inflammation and cell damage.

Tender jackfruit is rich in fibre and low in carbohydrates as compared to its ripened fruit. It keeps you fuller and so you can go longer without eating, which is why it is an excellent choice for helping you control your blood sugar. If you are following intermittent fasting for weight loss, tender jackfruit is the right vegetable for you.

Tender jackfruit is an excellent vegan substitute for meat

Apart from these, it also aids in digestion by eliminating constipation due to its high fibre content. Its phytochemicals help in preventing ulcers in the stomach as well as are believed to prevent cancer cells from developing. Minerals such as potassium and calcium lower high blood pressure, protect you from heart disease and stroke, besides preventing bone loss.

Since jackfruit is seasonal and the tender one is available in summer, you need to try out this recipe now. But during off-season, you can just replace tender jackfruit with meat and boiled eggs or vegetarian variations such as mushrooms, cottage cheese (paneer), soya nuggets, kidney beans or mixed vegetables.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

Tender jackfruit, boiled and diced3 cups
Rice3 cups
Onions6, medium-sized
Ginger-garlic paste2 tsp
Tomatoes4, medium-sized
Fresh curd or yoghurt1 cup
Milk2 cups
Cinammon2 sticks
Cloves5
Cardamom4
Pepper corns10
Cumin1 tsp
Coriander powder1 tsp
Chilli powder1 tsp or to taste
Turmeric powder½ tsp
Chicken Masala powder½ tsp
Bay leaf3
Saffron strandsA pinch
Cashew nuts½ cup
SaltTo taste
Cooking oil / Ghee½ cup
Fresh mint leaves½ cup
Coriander leaves½ cup
Water for cooking rice and jackfruit5 +2 cups, respectively

Method of Preparation:

Biryani is an elaborate preparation, and can be prepared in various ways, but this is an easy-breezy version that uses the pressure cooker. Simply put, the preparation boils down to these three steps:

1. Cooking the rice and spices

2. Making the jackfruit gravy

3. Assembling them together and cooking on low heat

Cooking the rice and spices

The subtle blend of aromas of the flaky rice and spices can rouse your appetite

Wash the rice until the starch disappears and the water becomes transparent. Drain fully and keep aside for 15 minutes. Boil 5 cups of water and add the rice, salt and whole spices. Add 2 tsp of ghee for getting a flaky, non-sticky texture to the rice. Pressure cook it for two whistles and switch off the gas. Allow to cool.

Slice 3 onions thinly and deep fry them in oil on a slow flame until they turn crispy and golden brown. Drain and spread on absorbent paper. This is optional. If you wish to do away with fried foods, then you can skip this step and use the onions to prepare the jackfruit gravy.

Preparing the garnishing

Soak the saffron strands in ½ cup of hot milk and keep aside.

Prepare mint and coriander leaves for garnishing.

Cooking the tender jackfruit

Peel, cut into chunks and steam in pressure cooker

Peel and cut the tender jackfruit into 2-inch chunks. This is tedious as the skin is thick and hard. The sap in the middle axis is milky and viscous and sticks to your hand. Use a pair of disposable gloves or smear some cooking oil on your hands and knife to make it easier to handle the jackfruit. Later, you can rub more oil to clean up the viscous sap from your hands, before rinsing off with soap and water.

Ensure that you spread some paper towels on the cutting board and do not mess up your clothes and work surface. Alternatively, to save on this effort, you can just request your vegetable vendor to cut it for you.

Rinse the pieces and quickly place them in 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker and cook them until tender. Once they are cooked, you can handle them easily. Dice into bite sized pieces and keep aside.

Making the jackfruit gravy

Spice it up with powdered condiments
Cook the curd on low heat to make a rich tangy gravy
Add the steamed jackfruit pieces
Add milk to prepare a thick gravy

Heat oil/ghee in a pan or wok. Add bay leaves followed by cumin seeds and finely chopped onions. Saute till onions start browning. Add ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add chopped tomatoes and fry till they are soft and mushy.

Add the chilli powder, turmeric, chicken masala coriander powder and cashew nuts. Cook for a minute and add the beaten curd/yoghurt. Cook until it starts simmering. Add salt to taste that is just sufficient for the gravy. (The rice has already been cooked with salt.)

Add the diced jackfruit pieces and peas, and cook on a low flame so that the flavours blend together. Add 1½ cup milk to the gravy and simmer on low heat. The gravy will thicken a little. Switch off the gas as the gravy is ready for assembling the biryani.

Assembling the gravy and rice in layers

Finally, all you need to do is assemble the gravy and rice in layers half an hour before serving.

Remove the cooked rice from the pressure cooker gently, without breaking the flaky grains. Spread 1/3 the rice in a layer. Pour a few spoonfuls of saffron and milk. Spread half of the jackfruit gravy over the rice. Garnish with mint and coriander leaves and fried onions.

Spread the second portion of rice and repeat with saffron milk followed with remaining jackfruit gravy. Garnish with mint, coriander leaves and browned onions. Top it off with the remaining rice. Pour the remaining saffron milk all over and garnish with mint, coriander and browned onions.

Seal it with the pressure cooker lid and simmer on very low heat until the lid feels hot to the touch. Switch off the gas and allow to sit for 10 more minutes before serving the richly aromatic and delicious biryani.

Handy tips:

If this is too much effort for you, make sure you rope in your family or friends and cook it up together. You will have a blast making and eating the biryani with them.

To make the process more smooth-sailing, time yourself in such a way that you begin with deep frying the onions and cooking the rice. Once you get these going, peel and cut the jackfruit and steam it in a pressure cooker.

Get the other ingredients together and chop the vegetables for the gravy and prepare the gravy. Then assemble it and simmer on low heat.

To make the biryani healthier, skip the deep fried onions and use a lesser quantity of oil/ghee. You can also substitute white long-grained rice with brown or unpolished basmati rice.

Enjoy the biryani with a curd-based raita made with tomato, onions and cucumber.

If you like this recipe, please try it out and leave a comment on how it turned out. Share this recipe with your friends so that they benefit from this healthy vegetable.

Until my next, eat your way to good health!

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Amita Sarin says:

    Great Recipe and valuable insights.
    Thankyou Anupama

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Amita.

      Like

  2. Raji says:

    Anup u have written it so nicely , hats off to Ur patience. I will surely try. Jackfruit is my fav.

    Like

    1. Thank you Raji. Try it out and let me know how it turned out.

      Like

  3. Smita Mahajan says:

    Anu, you have written very well. Jack fruit has so many medicinal values. Definately l will cook Jack fruit biryani.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Smita. Let me know how it turns out.

      Like

  4. Niranjan says:

    Great Recipe & very healthy too – will definitely try it out

    Like

    1. Thank you. Please let me know how it turns out.

      Like

  5. Uma says:

    Well written Anup. Your passion for cooking comes through in every word you write.

    Like

    1. Thank you Uma. Please try the recipe. You will like it.

      Like

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