Jackfruit grows in tropical climates all over the world and is a great source of healthy and cheap carbohydrate.
In India it is used in myriad ways. There are several varietals the hard and the soft, some more superior than others because of higher sugar content or the smoothness of the ripe pulp. But most of them are used in 3 stages, tender and raw (what you require for this recipe), ripe, the soft fruit is dipped in honey and enjoyed as a dessert or pulped to make pickles and jams, or juiced to make dried candies and completely raw, sliced to make chips. Jackfruits come is large sizes (15-40 kg) and have a sticky fluid that seeps out when the fruit is sliced. It requires experience and skill to break down a jackfruit so most people buy it partially processed by the fruit vendor. The seeds are deep fried to make snacks or dried and added to curries.
Kewra is a fragrant extract of the Pandanus or screw pine and is available bottled in any Indian grocery store.
2 CUPS BASMATI RICE WASHED AND COMPLETELY DRAINED
3/4 CUP VEGETABLE OIL
200 GRAMS TENDER BUT RAW JACKFRUIT, DICED INTO 1/2 INCH-1 INCH PIECES, RIND AND SEEDS COMPLETELY REMOVED
2 WHITE ONIONS FINELY CHOPPED
1 CUP WHOLEMILK YOGURT
20 MINT LEAVES
6 STRANDS SAFFRON
1 TEASPOON KEWRA OR SCREWPINE WATER
2 TABLESPOONS GARLIC AND GINGER PASTE
1/2 TEASPOON TURMERIC
1 TEASPOON CAYENNE PEPPER
2 GREEN CHILLIES SLIT LENGTHWISE OR MORE IF YOU LIKE IT SPICY
1.5 TBSP GHEE
WHOLE SPICES FOR TEMPERING
5 GREEN CARDAMOM PODS WHOLE
1 BADI ELAICHI OR BLACK CARDAMOM
1 DRIED BAY LEAF
4 BLACK PEPPERCORNS
2 INCHES CINNAMON STICK
1 CUP CRISPY FRIED ONIONS
2 TABLESPOONS ROASTED PLAIN CASHEW PIECES
8-10 MINT LEAVES
HEAT 1/4 CUP OIL ON A MEDIUM FLAME AND ADD HALF THE ONIONS AND SAUTE UNTIL SOFT AND TRANSLUCENT. THEN ADD THE JACKFRUIT, YOGURT, GREEN CHILLIES TURMERIC AND CAYENNE. SAUTE 4-5 MINUTES. ADD 2 CUPS OF WATER AND COOK UNTIL TENDER AND WATER HAS EVAPORATED. RESERVE.
HEAT REMAINING 1/2 CUP OIL ON HIGH FLAME IN A LARGE DUTCH OVEN STYLE POT AND ADD ALL THE WHOLE SPICES AND SAUTE UNTIL FRAGRANT ABOUT 1 MINUTE. LOWER FLAME TO MEDIUM.
ADD REMAINING ONIONS AND SAUTE 1 MINUTE. ADD GARLIC AND GINGER AND SAUTE 2 MINUTES. ADD RICE AND GENTLY TOSS IN THE ONION AND OIL MIXTURE. THIS SHOULD BE DONE SLOWLY TO PREVENT THE BASMATI GRAINS FROM BREAKING.
ADD JACKFRUIT AND YOGURT MIXTURE SAFFRON, GHEE AND 20 MINT LEAVES. ADD 4 CUPS OF WATER AND SCREW PINE OR KEWDA WATER. STIR GENTLY TO DISTRIBUTE JACKFRUIT..
SEAL DISH TIGHTLY AND COOK UNTIL RICE IS TENDER AND FLUFFY.
OPEN COVERED DISH, FLUFF RICE UP AND LET IT REST 2-3 MINUTES. TASTE FOR SALT. GARNISH WITH MINT LEAVES, FRIED ONIONS AND CASHEWS. SERVE WARM.