Many thousands of years back when there was no concept of “vegetarianism” in India,everyone ate meat.They caught game,killed and ate it and this included animals like Rhinoceros,Wild Boar,assorted birds like Quail,Pigeon and Grouse and of course the Royal Venison or deer meat which was one of the most treasured culinary delights.With the advent of the caste system and associated conceptual turning around of the society,certain vegetables were treated as “vegetarian meats” and they were primarily used as substitutes of meat namely Chicken,Mutton(Goat meat),Beef and Pork.Some of these vegetables were Jackfruit,Potatoes,Turnips,Radish,Soybean,Avocado,Beetroot and Tomato.Pure vegan products or “vegan meats” such as Tempeh and Seitan have come up to give vegetarians the same protein and nutrients animal flesh gives the “non vegetarian” population.I am very sorry to state here that there is an ongoing war between people who eat meat products and people who do not and each group tries to prove their stance and establish themselves as correct.It is advisable to respect each other’s individuality and adopt neutrality towards any preference in the edible product category.
Coming back to this delicious rice tongue pleaser,this is made the same way as you would make any non vegetarian Biryani with the only difference that we substitute Jackfruit as the primary ingredient and we cook the Biryani till the rice and Jackfruit take on the flavour of the added ingredients and the pieces of Jackfruit become juicy and succulent and the aroma of the lovely ingredients cooking in the handi pervades the whole house.Believe me when I say that though you may call the preparation tedious but when you taste the final product you will close your eyes and revel in the various masala amalgamations which this Biryani is popular about.This rice wonder was started in the Awadh province back in the 1800’s when Nawab Wajid Ali Shah wanted something vegetarian as he was tired of eating meat but wanted the same taste and zayka or as we say “the subtle deliciousness” provided by the recipe!
Let us explore the treasure chest of ingredients to make this appetising Biryani!
Preparation Time : 2 hours
Makes : 4-6 servings
For the Rice :
2 cups Biryani/Basmati rice – soaked for 30 minutes
1 tbsp Cooking Oil
The whole garam masala :
4 Green Cardamoms(elaichi)
2 Black Cardamoms(badi elaichi)
1 stick Cinnamon(dalchini)
2 Bay Leaves(tej patta)
For the Jackfruit preparation :
500 gms Jackfruit – peeled and cut into cubes or triangles
2 cups Yogurt
2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
2 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
1 tbsp Green Chilli Paste
2 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Ghee
2 tsp Garam Masala/Biryani Masala
1 1/2 tsp Cardamom Powder(elaichi)
1 tsp Black Cumin seeds(Shahi Jeera)
Other Ingredients :
2 cups crisp fried Onions
1 cup mixed and chopped Coriander and Mint Leaves
1 tsp Saffron soaked in 1/4 cup warm milk and mixed with 1/4 cup thick Yogurt
2 tsp Kewra water/rose water for sprinkling over the Biryani
Prepare the rice :
Bring 2 litres of water to boil in a deep pan or handi and add the whole garam masala ingredients and the 1 tbsp Oil in it.Bring the water to a rolling boil and add the soaked rice to it.By the watch cook for 2-3 minutes till the rice is approximately 70% cooked.Drain the rice in a strainer or colander and immediately spread it out on a muslin cloth spread on a table or on the floor ensuring there is no moisture and the rice is cooled.Pick out the whole garam masala ingredients and store separately to be used in some other recipe.After 10 minutes of drying transfer the rice back into the now dry strainer and keep aside till needed.
For the Jackfruit layer :
Heat ghee in a handi or pot in which you intend to make the Biryani.Add Black Cumin seeds or Shahi Jeera and after they splutter add the Ginger-Garlic and Green Chilli pastes and fry on medium heat till the raw smell disappears.Now add the deep fried Jackfruit pieces and take the handi off heat.Add the rest of the ingredients and spices including 3/4 cup of the crisp deep fried Onions.The mixture would have become creamy because of the addition of the Yogurt and this would give the Jackfruit a succulent texture and the spices would provide a delicious tang.
Layering the Biryani and cooking it :
Place a tawa(griddle) on high heat for 2-3 minutes and lower the heat to medium.
In the Biryani handi containing the prepared Jackfruit,take out 1/4 of the mixture on a separate plate.Now ladle half the rice and spread evenly with a spatula to spread over the whole handi covering the Jackfruit mixture.Top this with half of the remaining crisp fried Onion,half of the coriander – mint and half of the saffron -yogurt mixture.Spoon the reserved Jackfruit mix over the rice and level the top.Ladle remaining rice on this and top with the remaining crispy fried Onions,coriander – mint and saffron – yogurt mixtures.Seal the handi with some “atta” dough applied on the rim of the lid.
Place this handi on the tawa and decrease heat to low.Cook the Biryani for 25 – 30 minutes on “dum” till a nice aroma emanates and rice is completely cooked.
Open the handi and make a bed of Jackfruit on dinner plates.Ladle the aromatic rice on top and serve with Mirchi Ka Salan or any Raita of your choice!
The Succulent Jackfruit (Kathal)