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  • Writer's pictureEmily Yeo

Kalia Jackfruit Curry

This easy vegan kalia jackfruit curry also know as ‘cari jacques’ — as it is typically known in Mauritius, is yet amazingly tasty; you will be licking your fingers!

Have you tried jackfruit before? Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. It's pretty big and can reach up to 90 cm in length. In Mauritius, the green or young jackfruit is widely used in curries and other savoury preparations while the ripe fruit is very often eaten fresh or used in desserts. Jackfruit trees are a common sight in most gardens here, once the fruit is ripe, they turn into a beautiful yellow-orange hue, giving off a sweet fragrance that is easy to recognise.

Many of us now identify with jackfruit as a vegan meat substitute but I knew it first as a giant fruit bigger than the size of my head with bright yellow flesh as sweet as honey. Growing up in Singapore, it was one of my favourite fruits and I can still remember the nectarous whiff that came with it. We called it by its Malay name nangka and sometimes ate it deep-fried in batter as a mid-day snack.

Jackfruit Curry is a new discovery for me. It is definitely something to put on your must-try list if you are unfamiliar with just how tasty this fruit can be. What’s remarkable about this fruit is the texture which can be shredded with a fork once cooked. But what’s truly amazing is the taste it takes on from an unripe jackfruit to a ripe fruit. When it’s unripe, the jackfruit tends to be quite firm in its texture this makes it easy to for the fruit to withstand the high heat while its been cooked. This texture and the natural starch helps the jackfruit to soak in the flavour from the different spices we add to it. And then as the jackfruit ripens, it turns into a sweet, delectable exotic fruit that you can’t help craving and falling in love with.

With all the recent jazz surrounding jackfruit as the "pulled pork" of vegan cooking, I was curious to find out how this tropical fruit had originally been cooked in other countries and cultures. Jackfruit has long been enjoyed in South Asia and Southeast Asia both in its ripe and green forms. In Thailand and The Philippines, the sweet fruit is thinly sliced and added to desserts. Countries like India and Indonesia treat the bland unripe jackfruit like a vegetable and use it in curries and stews.

Guys, this is one of the best curries you will have the chance to taste on the island of Mauritius! With its creamy and spicy but not too hot taste, I was definitely conquered. With young jackfruit, the texture is great (meaty, stringy, and all that jazz) but the curry is unsurprisingly void of any sweetness and has sharper salty (I attribute this to the brined jackfruit), tart, and spicy flavours.

Out of curiosity, I made this curry several times, one with ripe jackfruit and another with young jackfruit. On both occasions, the plate was licked clean so I can testify that it worked both ways! however, at close to $20 for fresh ripe jackfruit compared to less than $3.50 for two cans of young jackfruit, it was quite an expensive experiment. But the good news is, young jackfruit is what's commonly used in curries and it's cheap and easy to find! Yay!

The fruity-floral quality of the jackfruit came through and went really well with the pungency of the curry powder. I really loved the presence of tamarind paste here because it rounded up the sweetness of the fruit and cut through the fatness of the coconut milk with a delectable brightness. Truly, this is a one of a kind curry that can be savoured with a bowl of steaming rice or a naan. Damn, I could even forget the chunks of jackfruit “meat” and rice but add spoonfuls of the gravy to enjoy it.

Here are 5 benefits of jackfruits that you should know:

1) The high fibre content is good in helping to keep the digestive system healthy.

2) High content of various nutrients helps to keep your body healthy. These nutrients can be Vitamins to essential antioxidants.

3)The fruit is a good source of calories. It does not contain saturated fats and no cholesterol which makes it a great energy Boosteroster.

4) If you are anemic then this is the fruit for you.

5) Glowing skin, good eyesight, and a healthy heart add to the fruit’s benefits.


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