August 5, 2012

Echor-er dalna (Jackfruit curry)

Jackfruit, before it ripens in late summer, is used as a vegetable in the beginning of summer. This meaty vegetable is a frequent dish in the everyday dinner menu of a Bengali house. Jackfruit is often prepared in a very rich gravy called dalna giving it the alias ‘gach-patha’ or ‘meat from the tree’. I was cooking jackfruit for the first time, that too from the can. Naturally, I was anxious and skeptical. Phone calls to my mother revealed the recipe and little tricks. With all excitement, I started cooking. Although a bit too rich for the hot summer day lunch, it was delicious and the flavors were reflecting those from memories. Rich complex flavors and the aromatics adding a depth to it. I just ended up having a bit too much!

You can print the recipe for your kitchen here: PRINTABLE RECIPE

(Serves 2)

250g young jackfruit
1 medium potato
1 medium tomato
1 medium onion
8-9 cloves of garlic
1 inch ginger
3-4 green chilies
1 black cardamom
2 bay leaves
1 dried red chili
3-4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2sp turmeric powder
1/2sp karshmiri chili powder
1/2sp cumin powder
1sp coriander powder
1sp ghee
Mustard oil, salt, sugar


1.      (If using canned jackfruit, drain it and wash well. Soak it in fresh water for a couple of hours.)
2.      Boil the jackfruit cubes with a bit of salt for 15-20 mins. Drain and keep aside.
3.      Roughly chop onion, tomato, garlic, ginger and chili. Heat oil in wok. Fry until soft and golden brown. Blend into a smooth paste.
4.      Heat oil in the same wok. Fry the jackfruit cubes on medium heat until lightly golden. Set aside.
5.      Cut the potato into cubes (similar in size to those of jackfruit).
6.      Add bay leaves, dried red chili, cardamom, clove, cinnamon in the heated oil. Let it crackle.
7.      Add the potatoes. Fry on medium heat until golden.
8.      Add the onion-garlic blend and the turmeric, cumin, coriander, kashmiri chili powder. Add a salt and a pinch of sugar. Fry for 2-3 mins on medium heat.
9.      Add the fried jackfruit pieces. On medium heat fry with frequent stirring until the spices leave oil on the sides and coat the vegetables well, approximately 10-12 mins. Take care that the spices do not catch the bottom of the wok. (The method is called Koshano in Bengali cuisine).
10.   Lower heat. Add 1.5cup water. Cook covered until the vegetables are done.
11.   Remove cover. Adjust seasoning. Add the ghee. Cook on high heat for a couple of more minutes. Serve with steaming rice.

The onion-ginger-garlic-tomato can also be made into a paste before and then added during the cooking. In that case, the process of koshano should be done for longer. However, frying before blending into a paste adds to layering of flavors.
Koshano: A commonly used cooking method in Bengali cuisine. In heated (tempered) oil, the spice pastes are added. It is then cooked on medium heat with frequent stirring such that the spice paste starts leaving oil on the sides. This enhances and adds complexity to the flavors. The spices paste can be a fresh paste of whole spices with water, or also onion, ginger, tomato puree etc. Depending on the preparation, the vegetables/meat can be added along with or later.

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