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.

 

 

 

 

Two Delicious Eggplant Recipes – Khatte Meethe Baingan And Baingan Palak Sowa Ki Sabzi


Aubergine/eggplant/brinjal/melanzane/berenjenas, the humble baingan has many names and they come in all shapes and sizes. The colours mostly vary from deep purple, black, cream, light green, bright magenta or even stripes of white and purple. Did you know eggplant is basically a fruit, a variety of nightshade like tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes? Fruit or vegetable, it is one of my favorites. Full of nutrition, eggplants are low in calories and are rich source of antioxidants, folate, vitamins and minerals, They are high on fiber and low on fat. Most of all they are delicious and can be cooked in many ways. It is not the boring veggie you believe it to be.

When buying eggplants look for vivid color, Choose the ones which are light in weight and free of any bruises, scars or discolouration. They should be firm with their calyx cap still green. This ensures that the eggplant is fresh and ripe. Test the ripeness by pressing the skin of the vegetable with your thumb pad, if it springs back the eggplant is ripe. Once cut, place them in a bowl of salt water to remove bitterness. Throw away the water.

There are so many delicious dishes you can make with eggplants. You can grill them with herbs, bake with cheese, roast and mash to make baba ghaoush, eggplant mash or baingan bharta/chokha, use variety of ingredients,to stuff them or you can make eggplant sauce to top up the pizzas/sandwiches etc. Aubergine dip is one of my favorites and so are these two recipes from my Indian kitchen.

The sweet and sour eggplant or khatte meethe baingan is an explosion of tastes. I love the sweet tangy flavours spiced up with chili and other spices. The tamarind/tomatoes and jaggery give the dish a unique texture and flavor. I love garlic and it pairs beautifully with aubergines.

1. Sweet and Sour Eggplant Vegetable

The khatte meethe baingan have two variations. One is made with Tamarind and jaggery and the one here uses tomatoes instead of tamarind. Chokh Vagun is a traditional Kashmiri baingan recipe that uses tamarind and fennel seeds. This is a variation of the same.

Ingredients :

Baby eggplants – 8-10

Tomatoes – 1/2 cup finely chopped

Ginger – 1/2 inch (grated)

Garlic – 4 cloves (grated)

Red Onions – 2 medium size ( finely chopped)

Corriander Greens – 1/4 cup (finely chopped)

Curry Leaves – 6-8

Fennel seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Onion Seeds (kalounji) – 1/4 teaspoon

Mustard Seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

Cumin Seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

Jaggery – 2 tablespoon (shredded or granules)

Salt – to taste

Whole Dry Red chili -1

Hing/asafoetida – generous pinch

Red Chili Powder – to taste

Coriander Powder – 2 tablespoon

Garam Masala Powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Mustard Oil – 2 tablespoon (you can use any other oil too)

Method :

Wash and remove the stems of the eggplants.

Slice them lengthwise in 2 inch slices and put them in a bowl of salted water). Discard the water before using the vegetable slices.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan (Kadhayi) and once it begins to smoke lower the flame. Add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When they start to crackle add dry red chili ,curry leaves and onion.

Stir the onions on low heat till they become translucent. Add ginger and garlic. Stir.

Add salt to help it become brown. When the mixture turns golden brown add red chili powder and a tablespoon of water. Mix well. This will give color to the masala. Cook on low heat for a few minutes then add the other dry masalas. Mix well and let it cook for a minute. Add chopped tomatoes. Mix well.

Cover and let it simmer for a few minutes. When the tomatoes become soft and mushy and the masala is fully absorbed add half a cup of water to it and mix. Let it cook for 5-8 minutes.

At this point stir in the eggplant slices and cover. Let it cook till the eggplant slices become tender. Now add jaggery and mix well. If the tomatoes are not sour ones then add a teaspoon of amchoor or mango powder at this point. You can replace tomatoes with tamarind taste too. I dissolve jaggery in tamarind water and add that instead of tomatoes at times.

Remember that sometimes the vegetables dont soften once the souring agent is added so it is better to let them tenderize before adding any sour thing.

Cover the curry and let cook for a while untill all the spices and other ingredients blend well.

Open the lid and add chopped coriander greens. Cover and cook for 5 more minutes then turn off the heat.

You can make it dry or a little curried per your liking.

Serve it hot with fresh phulka/paratha or steamed rice.

2. Sweet And Sour Eggplant With Winter Greens 

The second delicious vegetable with eggplant today is speciality of Varanasi or Benares as we know it. Aaloo bhanta saag (Thanks Sangeeta Khanna for reminding me this name) is mostly eaten with kachoris there. The preparation is a staple of Uttarpradesh and Bihar and usually prepared during Diwali when the market is brimming with fresh tender winter greens. It is a mushy vegetable made with baby potatoes, spinach, fresh dill greens and masala badi (A condiment- a dehydrated lentil cake).  My version doesn’t have potatoes. The spinach and wispy fern like dill greens (sowa) give it a unique flavour.

Dill leaves / shepoo/ sowa has a strong but pleasant anise-like flavour. Usually it is used in combination with spinach. I use it for making pakodas (dumplings) and for aloo sowa veggie too. Both the green have a high nutrient content. The dill springs have many essential volatile oils which are good for health. It also has vitamin A,C, B6, manganese, folate, copper, calcium and iron. Spinach on the other hand is full of phytonutrients. omega3 fatty acids among other things.

To make this wonderful veggie you will need

Ingredients :

A medium size round eggplant

Spinach leaves – 250 gm

sowa or fresh dill greens 100 gms

ginger – 1 tablespoon grated

garlic – 3 cloves finely chopped

onion – 1 roughly chopped

Dry red chili whole -1

cumin seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp

fennel seeds – 1/4 tsp

Generous pinch of hing or asafoetida

Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp

Salt – to taste

Mustard oil – 1-2 tablespoon

Method –

Wash, clean and chop the spinach and dill greens. Keep aside.

Wash and cut the eggplant in small cubes. Put them in salted water.

Heat a tablespoon of mustard oil in a kadhai or cast iron wok. Once the oil begins to smoke lower the heat and add, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and whole red chili. When the seeds begin to crackle add onion, garlic and ginger. Stir well.

Add chopped onions and just when they turn translucent add the chopped brinjals Add salt , turmeric powder and cover. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat then open the lid and add the greens. Stir well.

Dry roast fennel seed and onion seeds slightly and crush them in a mortar. Add this now.

Let it cook covered for a few minutes so the spices get absorbed in the vegetables (around 20 min) and then give it a stir after removing the lid.

You can make this wonderful veggie dry or coated with masala. I have not added the badi in this version but if you do then crush the badi (I use the amritsari urad dal badi) and in a little oil turn in over with crushed garlic till it browns. Add this to the vegetable and let the flavours seep in.

Serve it hot with Jowar bhakri/ roti/ poori or kachori. Winter greens taste best with flatbreads (roti/bhakri) made with sorghum, pearl millet and Indian corn flour. These are best for people following paleo or gluten-free diet and taste wonderful too.

If you make any of these, do let me know how they turned out. Any suggestions are welcome.

Enjoy! 

Konkani Tendli Sukke Variation – Recipe


Since GudiPadwa I was craving for Konkani food that was so lovingly cooked in my maternal  grandmother’s kitchen. As my father belongs to Uttar Pradesh we had a mixed cuisine at home. Most of the recipes were from North India and especially from Kayastha style of cooking heavily influenced by Mughal cuisine or the typical Banarasi khana where my mother grew up but as my mother belongs to North Kanara we also got the taste of Konkani dishes.

North Kanara  comprises of Kumta, Honnavar, Bhatkal, Siddapur, Sirsi, Ankola and some other regions. My mother hails from chitrapur saraswat community from  Honavar.  Their cuisine is simply delicious and full of healthy nutrients. Most people in this region rely on what grows in the backyard of their beautiful homes. The use of coconut is ample in both veg and non-veg dishes. I love sukke, Upkari, dhoddak, Kokam curry, ambat, dalitoy and randayi to name a few.

Tendli ( Ivy Gourd) Sukke 

Tendli or Ivy Gourd

Tendli or kundru ( in north) is called Ivy Gourd in English. The tender fruit is green in color and is often eaten in salads or used in vegetarian preparations. It is full of beta karotin , vast variety of B vitamins, vitamin A & C, fiber and minerals. It helps to keep blood sugar in check.

Here is a variant of traditional sukke (a dry dish) . We like to make this tendli ( ivy gourd) veggie with slightly thick gravy and not really dry but the ingredients are same.

IMAG0776

Ingredients :

Tendli/ kundru/ivy gourd – 1/2 kg.

onion – I small

Fresh grated coconut – 1/2 of a large coconut

Tamarind – a small piece (1/4 teaspoon paste)

Jaggary – 1/2 Teaspoon

Mustard Seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

Dry red chili – 1 or 2

Coriander seeds – 2 Tsp

Urad dal- 1 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Just enough oil for cooking.

Curry leaves ( optional. I don’t use them in this recipe)

Method : 

Dry roast coriander seeds, red chilies, urad dal and mustard seeds. Ensure none of these burn.

Grind and Keep aside.

Boil tamarind in some water to make a paste.

Keep aside

In a blender add grated coconut, ground spices and tamarind paste.

Blend with little water to make a smooth paste.

In a pan add a little oil and heat. Lower the flame and add mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter add finely chopped tendli. If the tendli is very tender I just pound it and use it whole.

Add turmeric powder and salt and let it cook in little water till soft.

IMAG0778

Add the coconut paste with a little water , stir and bring it to one boil and remove from heat. (You can exclude water and keep it dry as originally the Sukke is)

In a seasoning pot heat a little oil and add curry leaves and finely chopped onions (I don’t use curry leaves).

When the onions become slight golden pour the seasoning on top of the Sukke and stir.

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Serve hot with rice and dalitoi  as I did.

(Dalitoy is plain Arhar dal seasoned with mustard seeds, garlic cloves,whole red chili, green chili, curry leaves and asafoitida)

Happy Cooking.