Jackfruit Curry is a new discovery for me. I first tasted Jackfruit on a trip to Maui, Hawaii.
When we visit Maui, we shop at a favorite market for fresh produce, where we love discovering new local treats. The lovely family who operates the market are really helpful, explaining what things are and even cutting and offering us tastes, along with advice on cooking and serving. Besides ripe jackfruit, we tried cherimoya, breadfruit, eggfruit, strawberry guava, and many other fresh and local delights. And of course, we feasted on pineapple, papaya, mango, and tiny, sweet bananas every day.
What is Jackfruit?
But back to the jackfruit. These babies are huge, (can grow up to 100 pounds) melon-shaped fruit with spikes. It is, in fact, the largest tree fruit in the world. Jackfruit is very high in fiber as well as nutrients. When ripe, the fruit has a sweet, creamy, banana pineapple-like flavour. It’s delicious on its own or in ice cream and other sweet treats. I had the sweet, ripe fruit in Hawaii. Unripe also called young, or green, jackfruit is used in savory dishes.
Jackfruit; The Perfect Sub for Meat in Vegetarian Dishes
But then I was in an Indonesian restaurant and what did I see on the menu, but a jackfruit curry. I had to order it and it was delicious. While eating, I analyzed the flavours so that I could try it at home. This versatile fruit has been trending lately as a meat substitute because the unripe fruit has a texture similar to meat or poultry. It also has a neutral taste that will take on the flavour of what you cook it with, like this curry.
Fresh Jackfruit vs Canned Jackfruit
I’m using canned young jackfruit in brine. It is easy to find in any Asian grocery, and even in the ethnic food section in a regular grocery. If you can find a fresh, unripe whole fruit, you could make a curry with that, but why would you? Unless you are planning to feed an army, have a whole lot of time and patience, and don’t mind an incredible mess. If that is your situation, go for it. I’m using the canned stuff.
Regional Jackfruit Dishes
Jackfruit is native to Southeast Asia, and there are many versions of it in a curry. It’s a common dish in India, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and many other South Asian countries. This recipe is just my own, without any regional slant, and you can tweak the seasonings however you like. I used macadamia nuts because this fruit reminds me of Hawaii, but cashews or peanuts work, too. Nuts are great for adding some protein, but leave them out if you have allergies, of course.
Get more information about versatile, funny looking jackfruit What the Heck is a Jackfruit: A Look Inside this Funky Fruit.
How to Make Jackfruit Curry
Jackfruit is a healthy alternative for meat in savory dishes, like in this delicious Jackfruit Curry, simmered in coconut milk, ginger, chiles, and spices.
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 onion diced
- 2 inches fresh ginger peeled
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 bird's eye or Thai chile seeded (or sub 1/2 tsp dried red chili flakes)*
- 2 tbsp dried turmeric
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- 1 tsp fenugreek seed
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp dried lemongrass
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 can light coconut milk 398 ml
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1 can green jackfruit in brine drained (550 ml)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp fish sauce omit for a vegan dish
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves*
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
- juice of one lime
- 1/2 cup roasted macadamia nuts*
- In a grinder or food processor, put ginger, garlic, chili, turmeric, mustard seed, fenugreek, fennel, and salt.
- Process until a paste is formed.
In a large saucepan, heat coconut oil over medium-high.
- Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes
- Add spice paste cooking and stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes
Add coconut milk, vegetable stock, jackfruit, bay leaves, and fish sauce, bringing to a boil.
Reduce heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally about 30 minutes.
- Stir in lime juice, basil leaves, and cilantro/parsley
- Taste and add more salt if needed (this will depend on if you used fish sauce)
- Remove from heat and stir in nuts.
- Serve with basmati or jasmine rice.
*Thai chilies are quite hot, use caution when working with them. (gloves are a good idea) One seeded chili gives a fairly subtle heat, adjust according to your heat tolerance level.
*If you can't find Thai basil, any basil works just as well.
*You can substitute cashews or peanuts for the macadamia nuts, or leave out the nuts altogether.
* While simmering, the curry will reduce and thicken, If you like it more saucy, add more vegetable stock.