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Jackfruit Biryaani (Kathal Biryaani)
From Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness
(Clarkson Potter; 2004)
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 6 to 8 Servings

Like the jackfruit in the spiced tomato sauce with which this biryaani is made, this is a Lucknowi (capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh in North Eastern India) recipe, exceptionally refined in all ways: taste, fragrance, and appearance. The curry may be used immediately in the biryaani; the flavors will have a chance to meld while baking.


    Jackfruit in a spiced tomato sauce:
  • 1 1/2 pounds jackfruit (about 1)
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil, plus extra for deep-frying
  • 1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 medium red onions, finely chopped in the food processor
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, pureed in a food processor
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 fresh hot green chili, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 10 cups water
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 recipe Jackfruit In A Spiced Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)

For jackfruit in a spiced tomato sauce:
This is one of my father’s and sister’s favorite dishes. I remember my father playing a joke on family friends who ate meat; he’d invite them over for dinner and tell them that for this night alone, he was breaking his rule of no meat in the house to serve a chicken curry, especially for them. The friends, suspicious of my jokester father, couldn’t figure out what they were eating. It didn’t taste like chicken….but it couldn’t be a vegetable either, could it? The truth is that jackfruit has such a dense, meaty texture and mild flavor that, with sauce, it’s very hard to tell exactly what it is.
You can find jackfruit fresh in Indian or some Caribbean grocers, or canned in Indian stores; canned works perfectly well in this recipe. I also make a jackfruit biriyani with this recipe, layering it with par-cooked rice just as in the other biriyani recipes in the rice chapter. The warm spices of the tomato sauce tastes lovely with the rice and the meaty texture of the vegetable is such that it tastes satisfyingly like a chicken and rice dish! Canned jackfruit works perfectly well in the biriyani, too.

Using a mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder, grind the garlic to a paste with the whole cumin seeds.

To prepare the jackfruit, first coat the blades of both a large chef’s knife and a paring knife with oil. (The flesh of jackfruit is sticky and the oil will make it easier to cut through it.) With the chef’s knife, cut off the stem end and then cut the jackfruit in half lengthwise through the stem end. Cut each half in half, lengthwise again through the stem end. Then use the paring knife to cut off all of the prickly brown skin. Cut the flesh into 1 ½ to 2-inch chunks.

Heat 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil in a deep saucepan or kadai to 360°F over medium-high heat. (To gauge the temperature of the oil without using a thermometer, drop a piece of bread about 1-inch square into the hot oil; when the oil reaches 360°F, the bread should float to the surface of the oil and turn a golden brown color in about 45 seconds.) Carefully slide about half of the jackfruit pieces into the oil and deep fry, turning every now and then with a slotted spoon, until golden brown all over, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Fry and drain the remaining jackfruit. Set aside.
Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a large wok, kadai, or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Add the onion and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to brown around the edges, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic paste and cook, stirring, until the raw smell disappears, about 30 seconds.
Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Now add 1 Tablespoon of water and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to stick, about 1 more minute.
Add the fresh tomato puree and tomato paste and stir to combine. Then stir in 1 cup of water, the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and the garam masala. Carefully fold in the jackfruit (it will break up into bits if you stir too vigorously). Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring gently, 5 minutes.
Stir in the chopped chili and 1 Tablespoon of the cilantro. Stir in the lemon juice and taste for salt. Spoon into a serving dish, sprinkle with the remaining Tablespoon of cilantro, and serve hot.

For biryanni:
To make the rice, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the rice and stir gently so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Return to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer vigorously, partially covered, 6 minutes. Drain, return the rice to the pan and set aside until ready to use.

Heat the Jackfruit In a Spiced Tomato Sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes; it’s ready now to be used immediately.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Layer one third of the cooked rice over the bottom of a large, oven-proof casserole, preferably one with a lid. Layer half of the Jackfruit on top and smooth with a spoon. Add another third of the rice and then the rest of the Jackfruit. Top with the remaining rice. Cover tightly with foil and then with the lid, if there is one. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve hot.

   Published: September 2005