Few years back in many tamil weddings, Pala musu will have its star presence in the wedding menu. The process of getting the tender, green jackfruit flesh from the goey-glue mess is painstaking and also the availability of this vegetable is rare. Hence, the appearance of Pala musu have considerably reduced in menus these days. I must say, it is indeed a tedious task to work with this vegetable. The white latex-like milk from the jackfruit will cause ample mess. It is important to oil the knifes and your hands while cutting this vegetable. In the end, all this mess will be totally worth it. The cooked green jackfruit will have a texture that is very similar to that of poultry meat. There is no distinct flavor/smell for this vegetable. It is lauded purely for its texture.
As far as I recall, the only person who made this dish at home is my grandma. She always tells me, "Patience is the key when it comes to cooking. A lady in kitchen should never be lazy and uninspired, else the food will never be like food ". Yet another interesting wisdom she shared with me while working with a 'Jackfruit' -A family should be like a jackfruit, the outer hard and rough skin is like the father protecting the family, the yellowish strands that bind on to the sweet fruits is like the affectionate mother nurturing the children, and the sweet, tasty fruits are like the happy children.
This recipe is from this darling women who not only taught me to cook but also instilled values of life...
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time : 30 minutes
Yield: 3-4 people
You will need:
1 small, young tender unripe jackfruit
1/2 Cup split, husked green gram lentils (Moong dal)
1/4 Cup grated fresh coconut
2 dried red chillies
1/2 tsp split, husked black gram lentils (Urad dal)
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 sprig of curry leaves
3 tsp oil
2 pinch of Asafetida/Hing
2 tsp Sugar
Salt to taste
Spread an old newspaper, oil your palm and knife. Cut the unripe jackfruit lengthwise.
Quarter each half into four pieces. Remove the middle stem portion and the outer thorny skin using the sharp knife.Chop the flesh into smaller pieces. You don't need to chop finely. They can be irregular in size.
Collect these pieces in a large cooking vessel, add 2 tsp salt, turmeric and red chilly powder. Add water, enough to cover the jackfruit pieces.
Boil them for 15-20 minutes.
Drain the water and let it cool for few minutes.
In a food processor/ mixer, roughly mince the cooked jackfruit. Make sure not to puree them.
NOTE: If the size of the jackfruit is large ,you may end up with more jackfruit meat. Use only 1 1/2 cup for this recipe. The remaining stores well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Or it can be frozen for year long.
Boil the green gram/Moong dal with 1/2 cup of water till tender.
In a kadai/skillet, heat 3 tsp oil. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to crackle, add the asafetida and black gram/urad dal. Throw in the curry leaves and red chillies once the urad dal begins to change in color.
Add about 1 & 1/2 Cup of cooked, minced jackfruit and the cooked lentils. Saute them for 5 minutes.
Season it with salt and sugar. Stir well. Turn off heat and mix in the grated coconut.
Excellent side-dish in a south Indian meal. Especially, with sambar and rice!
The next day, I used the leftover, minced jackfruit to make a simple bhurji.
Sauteed with onions, green chillies, spices and some green peas. Wrapped them in a chapathi for lunch.