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Amma's jackfruit biryani


mongo_jones
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suvir,

i'm very intrigued by the jackfruit biryani on the menu at amma (which has received positive reviews from people on the new york forum). does the fact that you refer to the fruit by the bengali name (kathal) mean that this is your take on a traditional bengali preparation? (or is kathal not just the bengali name for jackfruit?); in any event, can you tell us a little more about the origins of the dish? bengalis, of course, cook a lot with kathal (both the raw and ripe versions) but i am not familiar with this particular preparation.

regards,

mongo

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this thread is getting to be quite the monologue.

okay, so i found a couple of links to kathal-rice dishes, one even called a kathal biryani. one site lists their dish as being from kerala, the other does not give a provenance:

http://www.bawarchi.com/cookbook/kerala4.html

http://www.rumela.com/recipe/indian_biryani_kathal.htm

it also appears that kathal is being grown in some places in the u.s:

http://www.fairchildgarden.org/research/jackfruit.html

this other site, which gives more info on the fruit suggests that attempts to grow the trees in the u.s have not been very successful:

http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/jackfruit.html

suvir, where are you sourcing yours from?

edited to add yet another link: everything you wanted to know about jackfruit but were too afraid to ask

Edited by mongo_jones (log)
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Hey y'all I just read Rashmi Uday Singhs review of a 15 day old restaurant that has opened in Andheri _ Tantra. It specialises in Frontier Food. I noticed that they have a jack fruit biryani on their menu though they did not get a very good review for it.

Just thought youd all like to know....

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Hey y'all I just read Rashmi Uday Singhs review of a 15 day old restaurant that has opened in Andheri _ Tantra. It specialises in Frontier Food. I noticed that they have a jack fruit biryani on their menu though they did not get a very good review for it.

Just thought youd all like to know....

Details ?? East or West ?

anil

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i'm very intrigued by the jackfruit biryani on the menu at amma ...

Interesting.

Does this use the green jackfruit (called "enchor" in Bengali) or the ripe jackfruit (called "kanthal")?

I had never heard of this before, but wouldn't actually surprise me if using the green jackfruit.

There are many dishes in Bengal which use "enchor". When growing up, I never used to like "enchor", which my mom would try to pass off as "vegetarian meat"! Surprisingly now that no one tries to force it one me, I actually like it.

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bong, you are a better bong than me. i still can't eat kathal. this is largely because of how much the damned ripe fruit stinks. i can't get it out of my mind. we lived in north bengal for some time and there were jackfruit trees everywhere. i think i've been permanently scarred by childhood bicycle rides along semi-rural roads seeing this hideous fruit hanging from this hideous tree with its horrible stink permeating the countryside for miles around.

interestingly, we have a bangal/ghoti type split in the family over kathal and shutki. i eat shutki now but growing up my mother and i refused to eat either while my father (originally from mymensingh) and my sister relished them. i would actually leave the house if ripe kathal was brought in. now it doesn't matter even if i see it on a menu in a restaurant and don't actually have to see it--i can remember the stink as vividly as though it were present. a sense-memory thing. my loss, probably--but i'll live.

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Who said anything about eating kanthal? :rolleyes: I still don't like kanthal.

I was talking about enchor, which is the "green jackfruit". Even though it's the same fruit, it tastes quite different from kanthal.

(incidentally, dishes with green jackfriuit a.k.a "enchor" is quite common in the Thai restaurants in the USA)

Shukto, on the other hand, can be heavenly when done right (giving away my "ghoti" roots here...)

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Having been fortunate enough to eat Amma's jackfruit biryani, I can say that it is made with enchor.

Here's a (regrettably out-of-focus) picture I took:

i2765.jpg

The biryani was topped by a tandoori grilled lamb chop and accompanied by a wondeful pear chutney.

BTW, I'm not even bong but I like ripe jackfruit - chopped up small and added to shaved ice with coconut milk.

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just a redundant aside to the thread, but one which might provide a glimpse into how difficult food preparation can be in traditional India, with serious danger to the women who are left to handle such tasks, while men enjoy the gustatory delights served up to them in style.

Green jackfruit is quite heavy, at least 4 lbs+, encased in a thick, hard, spiny rind even at a young stage; when cut, it exudes copious quantities of a sticky sap, similar to that from rubber trees. The sap is extremely sticky and congeals upon release; women rub their hands with mustard oil, and balancing the fruit in both hands, drive it down the blades of a bonti, an infernal device : a curved blade attached to a wooden slat, used on the floor. Bengali friends can attest to its non-ergonomic and inimical design. Cutting vegetables entails that the thumb push the hard vegetable right up to, and resting on, the very sharp edge. Peeling requires two-handed manipulation of the infernal fruit and its thick, sticky rind around a most recalcitrant implement, that bonti. This lethal sticky-slippery combination is what must be dealt with to prepare 'enchor' for food, besides blanching.

Other killer vegetables are the banana floweing stem and the chalta fruit [Dillenia].

BTW, in Bengal, even straw was cut into pieces [for cattle] by an larger, serrated, bonti; a more lethal combination is hard to envision.

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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jackfruit takes about as kindly to hacking as the pentagon

edited to add: plus people who know how to use botis don't have any problems with them. i wonder how suvir and crew dismantle their jackfruit.

you should see what is used to grate fresh coconut out of the shell--i think there might be a picture on my food-trip page somewhere.

Edited by mongo_jones (log)
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Pan,

You have just touched upon a very sensitive issue, on 2 grounds:

One, the deliberate immiserization/marginalization of women in 18th/19th century Bengal, keep them barefoot and pregnant, as it were--there is more to this than can be dealt with in these forums. For example, a whole pumpkin could never be halved by Brahman women; they would have to wait until the eldest brother in law could make himself available for this duty. All manner of symbolic and ritual content too recondite for this place. People still sarcastically refer to a useless layabout as "kumro kata barthakur' or pumpkin cutting elder brother-in law.

Why not knives: another sensitive area touching upon Hindu-Muslim relations [Muslims use knives] and upon the symbolic use of knife 'kartari prayoga' in ritual sacrifice, male standing erect, knife touching ground etc. that i am not comfortable discussing here without elaborate context.

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it should be noted that the matters of ritual and ritual control that gautam is describing are/were largely restricted to upper-caste (if not class) brahmins in bengal. this is not to say that lower caste hindu bengalis would/do not have patriarchal rituals of their own but it is important not to elide high-caste brahmin with hindu, or bengali for that matter. of course, down in the lower recesses (in terms of caste) of bengali society (or for that matter all indian) entirely different situations apply--sometimes, as in the case of tribal societies (which were under far less pressure in the 18th and 19th centuries than they are now) these are matriarchal.

i haven't read chiritra devi banerjee's book so i'm not sure to what extent its reach is dominated by a particular caste experience and history. anyone?

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