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Raw Jack Fruit Dum Biriyani – A Royal Indulgence!

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Raw jack fruit!! It is either very familiar or people have no idea about it! How many of you have tried cooking with it?  I absolutely love the texture and flavor of this unique vegetable. Raw jackfruits are not widely available throughout India and I must confess I have not tried the canned version available abroad. But as mentioned in my previous post, I am extremely lucky to have two huge jack fruit trees in my backyard :)

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Actually, this is not a vegetable I grew up eating. I was introduced to raw jack fruit by my MIL. She makes a simple, kerala style thoran (dry curry with coconut, recipe coming up in a few days) and it is finger licking good!! I had always heard that raw jackfruits are used to make sabzi and also are made into pickles! And somewhere in Hyderabad, they made a biriyani with it!! Why? There is an interesting fact about raw jack fruit, the look and the texture of the cooked jack fruit is very similar to meat! As you can look for yourself in the pictures below, I am sure most of you will agree. So on the festival days when meat is not allowed, people make do with the raw jack fruit biriyani! Well, for me personally, I don’t really need an excuse to cook it.

The only thing people are apprehensive and intimidated about is cleaning and prepping the raw jackfruit. It looks difficult and does need you to workout your muscles a little bit, but it is not impossible. In fact with a few precautions, it is extremely easy. I have explained the process in the method section below. If you have any further queries, do write back to me. The biriyani is very similar to my Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum biriyani recipe, but this is with fewer spices. Still, the taste and the aroma are not at all compromised. This is also cooked in the dum method, but I have cooked it on the stovetop instead of an oven. It worked out beautifully and I am sure all of you will be able to make this at home. If for some reason you cannot find raw jackfruit, try using mushrooms or a medley of vegetables as in this recipe.

Ingredients:

Serves 4-5

For the curry:

Raw Jack fruit (cleaned and cubed) – 3 to 3 1/2 cups
Onions (sliced) – 2 medium sized
Shahi Jeera (Aniseed) – 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 Tbsp
Tomato – 2 large
Biryani Masala or Chicken curry masala – 2 Tbsp (substitute with 1 Tbsp Garam Masala + 2 Tbsp Coriander powder + 1 tsp Red Chilli powder )
Kasuri Methi powder – 1/2 tsp (optional)
Thick Curd/Yogurt (not Greek yogurt) – 1 1/2 cups
Salt – to taste
Oil – 6 Tbsp

For the Rice:

Basmati rice (good quality) – 3 cups
Cinnamon/Cassia – 2″piece
Dry Bay Leaves – 3-4 no.
Cloves – 5-6 no.
Black Cardamom – 1 no.
Green Cardamom – 2 no.
Star Anise – 2 no.
Shahi Jeera (Aniseed) – 1 1/2 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp

To Assemble the Biriyani:

Jack fruit curry from step 1
Flavored parboiled basmati rice from step 2
French fried onions/Fried onions – 1/2 cup (from 4 medium sized sliced red onions)
Fresh Mint leaves (Coarsely chopped) – 1/2 cup
Fresh Coriander/Cilantro leaves (Coarsely chopped) – 1/2 cup
Saffron – 1/2 tsp (Soaked in 1/4 cup of warm milk) OR Yellow food color – 1/4 tsp mixed in in 1/4 cup of warm milk
Red Chilli powder – 1 tsp (optional)
Garam Masala – 1 1/2 tsp
Ghee/Clarified butter – 1 Tbsp
Rose/Kewra water – 1 tsp (optional, I don’t usually use this)

Plus you’ll need these:

A huge vessel/Casserole Dish/Dutch oven/Baking pan
A tawa (preferably cast iron or alloy not non stick) if you are cooking biriyani on the stove top
Aluminum foil

Method:

1. Cleaning and cutting the jack fruit can be quite a task. It is intimidating in the beginning but trust me its definitely not difficult. All you need is an oiled knife. Remove the hard green outer peel of the jack fruit. Remove about 1/2 to 1 cm thickness of the rind. Then cut the jack fruit into halves. The thick stem at the center will ooze out some milk, just let it rest for a bit and let the excess milk drip away. Then remove the center stalk and cut the rest of the portion into fairly large cubes. Keep your knife well oiled at all times, it will make your task so much more easier. Then I like to use a pressure cooker to cook the jack fruit, as it takes very little time. Cook the cubes with 1/2 tsp of turmeric and 1 tsp of salt (I forgot to add turmeric today! And hence the bland color) and cook until 1 whistle. Or boil the cubes in adequate water on stove top in a pan until the jack fruit is cooked and just tender. Drain the water and keep aside.

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2. We’ll make the curry first. Before starting to make the curry, if you have to make fried onions at home, we’ll start with that, so we can continue to use the aromatic oil for this recipe itself. So start with heating 8 Tbsp of oil in a pan. Once the oil is moderately hot, add in thinly sliced onions and reduce the flame to medium. Fry until the onions are golden brown. Remove to an absorbent paper and let cool. Once cool the onions will be crispy.

3. Then in the same pan, add in the shahi jeera to the hot oil and saute for 30 seconds. Then add in the chopped onions and saute until translucent. Then add in the ginger garlic paste and a pinch of salt and fry until the raw smell goes away.

4. Then add in the tomatoes and cook until mushy. Add the biriyani masala, adequate salt for the whole curry and saute on low heat just for a minute or until aromatic. Then add in the boiled jack fruit cubes and stir gently to mix everything together. Next, the yogurt and stir to combine. Bring to a boil on medium heat for a couple of minutes and turn off the stove. At this point the curry must have a little gravy, not too runny and not completely dry either.

For the rice:

5. Bring a large pot of water to boil, like you do when boiling pasta, so that the rice has lots of room to swim. for 3 cups of rice you need at least 4-5 liters of water. The largest vessel I have is my 7.5 lts pressure cooker, so I used that. Once the water comes to a boil, add in the salt and the whole spices. Then add in the rice and keep cooking on high flame until the rice is 80% done. The rice must be al dente!! Then quickly drain and spread the rice on a large, wide platter, so the grains at the bottom don’t stick together.

6. At this point, I like to pick out the whole spices, because they have already imparted all their flavor to the rice and have no use anymore. Plus we don’t really like to bite on the whole spices while relishing the biriyani :) This is optional, but recommended.

To Assemble the Biriyani:

7. Choose the vessel you want to cook the biriyani in. Select a large pan, one with a flat base, so you can keep it on a tava/griddle. Soak the saffron in 1/4 cup of warm milk.

8. Layer half of the curry in the bottom of the pan. Then layer half of the rice on top of the curry. Then sprinkle half of the garam masala, chilli powder, mint leaves, coriander leaves and saffron/yellow color milk on top of the rice. Repeat the layers with leftover curry and rice. Once again sprinkle the top with the remaining garam masala, chilli powder, fried onions, mint, coriander, leaves and saffron/yellow color milk.

9. Tightly cover the pan with double layer of Aluminum foil. Now place a tawa/griddle on medium/low heat. Place the biriyani vessel on top of this tawa and let it cook for 25-30 minutes. If you are using an oven, cook at 300 degree F for the same time.

10. Then let the rice rest for 10 more minutes. Open the foil only when you intend to serve the biriyani and let the aromas bewitch your family!!!

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Once you open the foil, gently mix with a spoon to mix the layers, but not too much!!

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And serve immediately with some raita.

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Aam Panna – A Refreshing drink made with Raw Mangoes

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