Punjabi Kathal Masala | Punjabi Jackfruit Vegetable


Popularly known as “vegetarian’s meat’, this fibrous, starchy and fleshy fruit is one of my favorites.  From tender ones to the absolutely ripe ones Jackfruit is used in variety of dishes from sweet to savory. Even the juice of ripe jackfruit is dried and used to make dishes like fansache sandane.  It is even pickled and the kathal ka achar is one of the best things on earth. I had kathal ki biryani at a friend’s place and it tasted just like the mutton biryani though the hardcore non vegetarian would never call it a biryani for Biryani means rice and Meat. 🙂 Nothing can substitute it. Kathal is one of the many things especially cooked on Holi in UP.

Although in my house only tender baby kathal or slightly more matured one was used for vegetable or kababs I learned to cook the more mature fibrous one from my MIL. It was cooked mostly like meat. The recipe used all the spices used to cook meat. It was cooked on slow fire and given dum. ( the dum pic got deleted accidentally but I will upload it later)

I did variations whenever possible to make the best use of the meaty fruit. Achari kathal being one of them which is cooked exactly like murg achari.

I neither use very tender baby jackfruit nor the very fibrous mature one for this subzi. The jackfruit seeds, that look like chestnuts, should not be very tough to chew. I never liked their plastic like covering.

Note – Get the jackfruit peeled and cut by the vegetable vendor or apply some oil and use a sharp knife to cut. It secretes a sticky resin and things can get very messy if not done properly.

kathal

 

Ingredients – 

Green unripe kathal/jakfruit – 1/2 kg

Onion – 2 large

Potatoes – 2 medium size ( optional)

Tomatoes – 5-6 medium size

Ginger – 1 inch ( grated)

Garlic – 7-8 cloves ( grated)

Green chilies – 2-3 ( slit)

Red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Coriander Powder – 2 tablespoon

Turmeric / Haldi Powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Home made Garam Masala – 1/4 teaspoon

Amchur/ mango powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Asafoetida – 2 pinches

Cumin Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Salt – to taste

Mustard Oil for frying

Water – 1 cup

Chopped green coriander leaves – for garnish

Steps- 

  1. Peel and cut the kathal into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces. Make a cut in the seeds if there are large ones or they will burst while frying or slice them if they are not too stubborn). (Be careful with that) Wash and keep aside.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes ( if using) and place them in water.
  3. Heat Mustard oil in a kadhai  and bring it to smoking point, Keep the flame to medium now. ( Mustard oil gives the subzi a unique taste but you may use some other also)
  4. Deep fry the kathal pieces in small batches till they are golden brown but not darker than that. Fry the potatoes too.
  5. Drain the fried jackfruit and potatoes on to a kitchen towel or paper to remove excess oil.
  6. Chop the onions fine.
  7. Grate the tomatoes into a puree.
  8. Remove excess oil fro mthe kadhayi and keep about two tablespoon for making the masala for the sabzi.
  9. Add cumin seeds and when they splutter add hing/asafoetida.
  10. Add chopped onions and green chili.
  11. Fry till golden brown. ( Add a little salt to help in browning)
  12. Add ginger and garlic and fry them along with the onions.
  13. Add red chili and a little water to give that rich brown color to the masala.
  14. Let the mixture cook for a minute and then add  the grounded masalas and the remaining salt.
  15.  stir properly and fry till the oil separates. Keep flame low.
  16. Move the onion mix to a side of kadhayi and add tomato puree.
  17. Stir everything well and let it cook under cover for sometime. ( 5-10 min)
  18. Open the lid and add some of the chopped green coriander leaves. This gives the masala a very nice flavor.
  19.  keep stirring the masala till the water from tomatoes dries out and the masala starts to leave oil. It will become smooth in texture by now.
  20. Add kathal and potato pieces to the masala  and mix well so that the masala gets incorporated in each piece. Add a little water to help in the process.
  21.  cook it on medium high flame , stirring continuously so the vegetable pieces soak up all the fragrant masala.
  22. Add more water to make a thick gravy and cover to cook on slow flame.
  23. Keep checking for the pieces to become tender.
  24. The time depends on the quality of kathal. ( Took 45 mins)
  25. Once the pieces have become tender check for the salt and spices. Add more if required.
  26. The kathal masala can be a thick moist vegetable coated with the masala but dry or you can add some water to make it into a curry. Keep it as thick or thin as you wish.
  27. If you want to dum the vegetable then cover with lid and seal the lid with wheat flour dough so that the steam doesn’t escape.
  28. Let it cook for 10-15 minutes on very low heat then turn off the heat and carefully remove the seal.
  29. Spoon the aromatic punjabi kathal masala vegetable in a serving dish and garnish with the remaining green coriander leaves.
  30. Eat with layered paratha, phulka or rice.
  31. Serve some cooling raita, pickled carrots and sliced onions.

Tip – If you do not wish to fry the kathal and potatoes you can make this recipe with steamed or raw pieces also.

This is a slow cook recipe and a labor of love. Follow the steps and you will have a sumptuous vegetable.

My garam masala has nutmeg, cinnamon, bayleaf, javitri, big black cardamom, green cardamom, dry ginger, cumin, coriander etc. so I do not add khada masala or whole spices.

Some people  add two three tablespoons of thick curd in the masala instead of amchur/mango powder. I make dahiwala kathal as a separate dish.

Enjoy this delicious meaty vegetable while the fruit is still in season.

 

 

 

 

Meethi Khatai- Kachche Aam ki Launji – Raw Mango Launji – Two Versions


Kachche aam ki launji is a relish that is popular all over North India and thee are many ways to make it. It is a perfect summer side dish to have with parathas, poories, cheelas etc. I sometimes just take a small bowl of it and eat it without any accompaniment. The sweet and tangy taste of kachi ambiya and jaggery spiced up by red chili and simple spices makes it a perfect summer special. While we drool over the many varieties of ripe mangoes and relish them all through the summer we also savor the raw and slightly ripe raw mangoes to makes chunda, achar, takku, murabbaand various chutnies.

Have you ever eaten slightly sweet raw mango slices dusted with cayenne pepper ? If not then you are missing out on something utterly delicious. Do try it as soon as you get hold of the mangoes.

Here I am sharing two versions of this launji. One is what my mom makes. I remember eating this every summer since my childhood. We called it Meethi Khatai . We don’t peel the mangoes in this one like the Rajasthani launji. I also leave the guthali or the mango pit to suck the sweet tangy juices from it.

Both the recipes are for small quantity. You can adjust the ingredients for a larger amount.  These will serve four people.

Here is a simple recipe to make this version of Meethi Khatai or raw mango launji:

Ingredients –

  • Raw Mangoes – 2 ( about 250 gm cubed)
  • Grated or Broken Jaggery – 200 gm
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Black peppercorns – 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Whole dry red chili – 1-2
  • Asafoetida – 2 pinch
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 2 cups
  • Vegetable Oil – 1 tablespoon

Steps : 

  1. Wash, peel and cut the mangoes in 1 inch cubes with a part of the hard shell (guthali) intact. Remove the paper thin layer from the guthali pieces by scraping it with the knife or peeling it from one end to the other. ( you can see it in the first picture)
  2. Take a heavy bottom pot and put it on low flame. Add oil and when it gets warm put mustard seeds in it.
  3. Once the seeds start to crackle, add fenugreek seeds and hing. Adding them at this time brings out a nice flavour. Also add the whole red chilli.
  4. Take the pot off the stove so that the spices don’t burn. They should just get slightly roasted and give a nice aroma.
  5. Add the raw mango pieces, salt and turmeric powder. Stir well.
  6. Now add water to the mix. Add 1 1/2 cup first. The pieces should be immersed in the water.
  7. Stir well and let it cook covered on low heat.
  8. After five minutes check for the tenderness of mango pieces. They should not become mushy but the skin should become slightly soft. Al dente to be precise.
  9. Now add the jaggery to it and mix well. Keep the heat to medium low.
  10. Cook it covered for another ten minutes & check for consistency. It shouldn’t be thick. Add one cup of warm water and stir well. There should be enough liquid in the dish. Once the dish cools it will thicken so keep a good liquid margin.
  11. Bring it to boil and turn off the heat. Let it sit for ten minutes on the counter.
  12. Take a little Meethi khatai in a tasting bowl and check for salt and sweetness. You can add more jaggery, salt or red chilli at this time.
  13. The dish should have a slightly sour sweet taste perfectly balanced. Too much sourness or sweetness will kill the flavours.
  14. Your Meethi Khatai is ready to serve.
  15. Serve this delightful dish with hot chapati, paratha, poori or just spoon it in a bowl to relish it just by itself. The tangy sweetness will tickle your taste buds like nothing else.
 
The other version is slightly thicker and uses some other spices too which are mostly the mango pickle spices.

Pickle spice mix

Fennel seeds/ saunf – 2 tablespoon

Nigella seeds / Kalonji – 1/4 teaspoon

Mustard Seeds / Methi Dana – 1 teaspoon

This one tastes completely different from the one above but both these launjis stay for at least a month without refrigeration.
 
The steps to make this launji are same as above. Just add the whole spices when the oil warms up. When the spices begin to crackle  add, red chili,turmeric, salt , mango pieces and a little water. Follow the instructions given above to make a delicious tangy sweet launji. Unlike the first version I do not keep too much liquid in this one. This is more like a pickle.
 

Do try both these recipes and enjoy the goodness of the mangoes till it is in the season.

My Tip: Always choose unblemished raw mangoes. Taste for sourness and adjust the sweetness accordingly. Traditionally it is made a little thin but you can keep the consistency according to your taste.
Do not use mangoes meant for Pickles as their skin is hard and they are too sour.
Eat the meethi khatai a little warm or at room temperature. The other version with pickle spices should be eaten at room temperature. 
You can use sugar but the taste won’t be the same. Do adjust the ingredients as per your taste and the amount you make.
You can peel the mangoes id desired. I like t suck and chew on the flavorful skin so keep it. You can dice them in long thin slices too.
Do try making this delicious tangy sweet relish. If cooked properly this stays for about 6 months in the refrigerator and for about 2 months at room temperature. I make this in small quantity throughout the season and then make two batches for the coming months at the end of the mango season.
I have some more recipes with raw mango. do look for them through the search option.
If you make any of these recipes do let me know your experience.

Exile – 2


Dissident Voice’s Sunday Poetry section. DV is a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice.

 

Broken Lives 

In the stillness of the old house
my fingers leave traces on the
dust-shrouded sepias of broken lives—
their names only half remembered—
parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins—
in the courtyard of our ancestral home,
or surrounded by vast areas of snow
that now weigh heavy on my heart
as I close my eyes and find a dream
in which the mist of old memories
veils the far distant hills and
bare trees that stand transfixed
like bleached skeletons,
their summer songs exorcised
the grey of sorrow clouds the sky
I recall a bright wood fire blazing
fragrant with the scent of my homeland
making figures like themselves
to celebrate the coming of new snow
but that was before innocence was lost
and the snow turned red with blood
as their sculptures gradually died
and vanished from sight forever
in the years since I last saw snow fall
winter has become a grisly metaphor
for the loss of life and hope
and things that will never be again

Exile


the sky that final evening
was smeared red with death,
and a tangible odour of fear
hung oppressively in the air,
by the half-shut windows,
blood had petrified in my veins

mother moved about the rooms
unsettling the unnatural quiet,
the few things we still owned
were in neat bundles beside the door,
slowly, on his artistic limbs,
baba mapped the contours of home

he absorbed the fading colours,
let memories settle on his skin
as fragile as a fine layer of dust,
in a corner grandma sat quietly
huddled with her kangri,
her gaze lost in a different world

the children had long forgotten time
and surrendered to exhaustion,
from my place near the window,
I envied their restive slumber
as I watched our topographies of pain,
trapped between somewhere and nowhere

the eerie wail of an ambulance sounded,
gunshots echoed through the air,
choked on dust and soot and pain
we waited, and watched the day reduce
to ash, then we passed into the night,
quietly, towards an unfamiliar sky

First published in Dissident Voice’s Sunday Poetry section. DV is a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice.

Easy Cherry Frozen Yogurt


Home cultured yogurt is full of probiotics and when the heat of summer is upon us the then yogurt or curd based desserts and other dishes are the best. I have been making FroYo and parfaits as the temperature this May is soaring mercilessly.

Many of those who are unable to digest milk can actually digest yogurt without any difficultly and that makes it even more better.

FroYo is one of my proffered desserts. I love them over ice creams as they are lower in calories and healthier too. I make them without the help of ice cream maker so they are practically no fuss.

Cherries have flooded the market and this FroYo has dark cherries. Stone fruits are my favorites, mangoes, plums, cherries, apricots, you name it. I just love them. They are so versatile and you can use them to make such wonderful desserts, relish, compote etc.

I buy fresh fruit and freeze for making FroYo. Frozen fruit gives a beautiful creamy texture to it.

As a sweetener I use honey.  It is a better option than sugar. Honey also prevents icicles to form while freezing the dessert.

Once the cherry frozen yogurt is ready, you can either serve it immediately as a soft serve or freeze it for a fe hours for a more ice cream like texture like I did.

The tart yogurt, the sweet cherries , a hint of lime is all you need to reach a state of Nirvana.

You can also use Greek yogurt and frozen cherries but I prefer fresh ones.

Now for the delicious low calorie Cherry FroYO 

 

Ingredients:

Black Sweet Cherries (pitted and frozen)- 1 cup

Hung yogurt/ Greek yogurt – 3/4 Cup

Lemon Juice – 1 teaspoon

Honey – 1 tablespoon ( don’t use extra sweetener, let cherries do the job)

Steps : 

Pit the cherries and freeze for two hours

Hang the curd/ yogurt over night or for 3-4 hours till completely drained of liquid.

Freeze the yogurt as well. We will chop it up an hour before using.

Take out the yogurt from the freezer and chop it up. Put it in a glass bowl.

Now take out the cherries, thaw them a little and then remove 1/4 in a bowl place rest of them in the blender and process till smooth.

Take out the cherry puree in a bowl and put the remaining cherries in the blender , give a swirl so it becomes a chunky mix. Remove.

Now, add hung yogurt , lemon juice and honey in the blender and process till smooth. Add the cherry puree to it and mix. Add the chunky cherries to the cherry yogurt and mix well.

Scrape the sides of the blender bowl and bland again to ensure there are no lumps.

Taste for sweetness and adjust accordingly.

In a freezer safe bin pour the cherry yogurt mixture. Tap the bin on the counter 2-3 times to remove air gaps. Cover and put in the freezer.

Take out and whisk the mixture after every 30 min and freeze again. I usually don’t need to do it if using honey or just do it once. Freeze for 4-5 hours or over night to get the ice cream like consistency.

You can also serve it as soft serve after a few hours.

Frozen Yogurt is best consumed on the same day but you can freeze it for a few days.

Serve it with a few fresh cherries on the side and a fresh sprig of mint at  the top.

 

As I munched on the leftover cherries I saw a box with a few digestive biscuits. An itch to try something new was too much to ignore so I decided to try something different. I took 6 of the biscuits added a slice of salted butter and gave it a churn in the mixer to make a base for a cheesecake with FroYo. It was just an experiment. I wasn’t sure if the frozen yogurt cheese cake would set if kept in the freezer.

I sprayed the springform pan with some oil, layered it with the biscuit crumble tightly just like we do for a proper cheesecake and kept in the fridge to chill. After half an hour I poured the FroYo over it, topped it with homemade cherry compote and covered the pan with cling wrap properly.

I kept this in the freezer for 2-3 hours and the result was just wow. I still feel there is a need for improvement but the cheesecake was yum. This is to be eaten immediately or the frozen yogurt will melt away leaving a slush. 😛

Perhaps it would stay better in a jar. Something to do next time. 😀