Friday, June 12, 2015

Echor Chingri/Curried Raw Jackfruit With Prawns

Echor chingri
Echor chingri
Along with the gourds, this season is for using raw jackfruit as a vegetable and cooking the same into various dishes. I have never really delved into variety regarding this fruit mainly because they are large, and there are no takers in our house. So it's usually a once or twice-a-year thing. But on our last trip one of the gifts that came along with us were a couple of raw jackfruits. I gave one to my sister-in-law and cooked the other into a much-loved Bengali curry. The idea came from Rupa (do check out my post here) and I couldn't wait to cook it. I wasn't even aware of the fact that jackfruit is also cooked with prawns. Known as echor (raw tender jackfruit) in Bengali, this is popular during this time of the year. The ripened fruit is known as kathal.

Since jackfruit does feature on our table once in a blue moon I cooked it my regular way. The only difference was in adding the fried prawns. With jackfruit, cutting it is a little messy. I prefer to use a banana leaf to do the needful by placing it on my work top. It is easier to scoop up the discarded portions later. Newspapers can be used instead of banana leaves. Since the fruit oozes a gummy latex when cut, it is best to oil your hands and even your knife. The hard portion right in the middle needs to be removed and the thick rind peeled. Then the fruit is cut into bite-size pieces and boiled till half-done. Here are some facts from Wiki. 100 grams of raw jackfruit provides about 95 calories and is a good source of antioxidant vitamin C. Jackfruit seeds are rich in protein. The fruit is also rich in vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, and iron.

Raw jackfruit, about 450 grams (I didn't use the entire fruit)
250 grams fresh prawns, cleaned/shells removed
3 medium onions, finely grated
8 cloves of garlic, ground
1 thumb-size ginger, ground
1 tbs coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp cumin seeds,               "
5 green chillies, scored lengthwise
1 tsp red chilli powder
A quarter tsp turmeric powder + extra for the prawns
Salt to taste + extra for the prawns
1 tsp pepper, ground
1/3 cup tomato puree
Pinch of sugar for the balance
3-4 tejpatta 
A quarter tsp cumin seeds 
4 tbs vegetable oil
Garam masala made by soaking and grinding:
3-4 cloves
1 stick of cinnamon
4 green cardamom pods
Coriander leaves for the garnish
Echor chingri

I have written about the method of cutting the fruit in the above section of my post.
Heat about 6 cups of water. Add some salt and add the jackfruit pieces.
Boil till half-done. Remove from the flame and drain in a colander.
Add a touch of salt and turmeric powder to the prawns. Mix well.
Heat the oil in a pan. Fry the prawns for about 2-3 minutes and remove. Set aside.
In the same oil, add the tejpatta and the cumin seeds. As soon as they sputter, add the onions.
Add the green chillies, the garlic/ginger pastes and the turmeric powder. Keep adding the rest of the spices except the garam masala.
Sprinkle a tad bit of water to the pan to keep the dry spices from burning. Season with salt.
Add the tomato puree and the sugar. By now the masala will start to look good.
Add the boiled and drained jackfruit pieces. Stir well so that all the pieces are coated with the spice mix.
Continue to cook till the vegetable is almost done. This will take about 20 minutes. It should be soft but not mushy.
Add about 11/2 cups of hot water. Continue till the gravy is slightly reduced.
Add the fried prawns, stir and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Add the garam masala and stir well.
Take it off the heat and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
You can also add some ghee to the dish as it gives a really good flavour. This goes best with rice and also with rotis.

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