Jackfruit is becoming increasingly popular among the vegan world and for those who enjoy cooking vegetarian cuisine. You’ll often see it used as an alternative to pulled pork or chicken. I use it in a plethora of ways, like taco meat, chicken and rice soup, buffalo chicken dip, and even BBQ sandwiches. Though I’m not here to tell you to ditch meat all together, but it’s a really great swap to processed, fake meat, something I steer clear of when trying to eat primarily a whole food, plant-based diet.
Jackfruit is a nonseasonal fruit, so you can enjoy it year-round if you choose to buy it fresh. I had a lot of fun reading this scholarly article about jackfruit and its nutritional value, if you’re into that sort of thing. And if you find buying a 50lb fresh jackfruit in the produce section intimidating, you can opt for young, green jackfruit often found in the freezer aisle or canned in the Asian or Indian cuisine section of your grocery store—just make sure not to buy the ripe jackfruit in syrup in a can! When you acquire The Indian Vegetarian cookbook, you may need to grab some new spices, so you might as well familiarize yourself with and support your local Indian or Asian grocery stores. If you happen to live in Cincinnati, like me, I frequent and recommend Jagdeep's Indian Grocery and Saigon Market.
When I bought The Indian Vegetarian Cookbook, I was absolutely jazzed that there were authentic recipes for jackfruit. I’ve been dying to make recipes with it that weren’t just basic meat swaps. After reading through the first chapter on spice blends (I can’t withhold my excitement on that one), I discovered an entire chapter of meals based on fruit: dishes like green papaya curry, plantain fritters, banana flowers, mango rice and of course, jackfruit biryani—which is one of the recipes for our latest #EastForkCookAlong contest, by the way. My best advice is don’t overstir the jackfruit when you're searing it. Add it to the pan with oil and let it rest, then flip and sear the other side. The more you mix it around, the more it will stick to the pan and break apart—give it space and time.