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Chettinad spicy jackfruit seeds (Pilla vedhai masala)

Jackfruit is a species of Artocarpus heterophyllus tree, which is also a member of the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit families. The smelly durian also belongs to this family. Jackfruits are large fruits that were thought to have originally been cultivated in Java and India simultaneously. The common English name "jackfruit" was used by physician and naturalist Garcia de Orta in his 1563 book Colóquios dos simples e drogas da India. Centuries later, botanist Ralph Randles Stewart suggested it was named after William Jack (1795–1822), a Scottish botanist who worked for the East India Company in Bengal, Sumatra, and Malaya. It is the national fruit of Bangladesh and the state fruit of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

I love jackfruit and will not touch its cousin, the stinky durian. This blog has several recipes for raw and ripe fruit and seeds. The seeds are delicious. They are a pain to clean and slow, tedious work, but the effort is rewarding when you bite into the nutty, distinctive taste.

I loved this recipe. The dry curry is lovely and packs a flavour that compliments the nutty seeds. This is a rich side dish, but one that is enjoyed for its distinction character.

This South Indian cookbook brings to my shelf the unique cuisine of the Chettinad Tamils in South India. This now popular cuisine is known to be extremely spicy, complex and distinct. This book is a beautiful collection of recipes that make this cuisine accessible to us at home.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.



Ingredients:

1/4 kg jackfruit seeds

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt


For the spice paste:

2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut

3 roasted cashew nuts

3 teaspoons poppy seeds

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon anise seeds, lightly toasted

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted

4-5 tablespoons water


2 tablespoons oil

1-inch cinnamon stick

1 small bay leaf

10-12 curry leaves

1 small onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Salt, to taste


With a sharp knife, make a small notch in the tough outer skin of the jackfruit seeds. Be careful; they are very slippery, and you do not want to cut yourself.


Add the seeds to a small pot with the water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Cut a seed to check if it is cooked. If so, remove, drain and wash well.


Remove the outer tough and inner brown skin of the seeds. This is a tedious task and will take time and test your patience. Set aside.


Note: Jackfruit seeds, once cooked, spoil easily.


Add all the ingredients for the spice paste to a small blender. Add just enough water to allow the paste to slide down the sides of the blender easily; do not make a runny paste. Blitz till you have a smooth paste.


Heat the oil in a wok or pot. Add the cinnamon stick and sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the bay leaf and curry leaves and toss well in the oil. Add the onion and fry on medium-low heat for 2 minutes till the onion is lightly golden.


Add the tomato paste and the ground spice and fry till the paste has thickened and there are small bubbles of oil pooling on the surface, about 5-6 minutes. Add the jackfruit seeds and toss in the spices well. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.


Serve hot. You can make a drier version to serve with bread or chapattis or a wetter version, more like a curry, to serve with rice.

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