“From a tiny, but close-knit community in the southwestern corner of the southern state of Karnataka, the Kodava people are a proud class of warriors and generals. They have even been thought to have Aryan roots going back to around 300 BC when Alexander the Great invaded India. The Kodavas are Hindus but not highly religious, as meats and alcohol flow freely at many of their auspicious gatherings. This curry is an adaptation of their classic Pandhi curry, and its sour taste usually comes from the inclusion of kudampuli (the smoked fruit of garcinia camboge), a member of the mangosteen family. Since the sour fruit is relatively hard to come by outside the state’s provincial borders, the more widely available tamarind makes a perfectly acceptable alternative. For a sharper zing, you can use a 1/2 cup of malt or cider vinegar instead of the tamarind.
This Coorgh delicacy is a sure winner, especially if you wish to pull the wool over a diner’s eyes by making them think they are eating meat. The texture of young (green) jackfruit is firm and slightly fibrous, and its chewy, meaty quality is further enhanced when you deep-fry the pieces in oil. In the U.S., the unripe form is more widely soaked in brine and sold in cans in Southeast Asian and Indian grocery stores. It is an acceptable version, especially if you treat it according to this recipe.” – Raghavan Iyer
- Canola oil for deep-frying
- 1 can (20-ounce) young, unripe jackfruit, drained, and patted dry between paper towels, and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground red pepper (cayenne)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 pound white potatoes (like russet or gold), peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (soak in cold water to prevent browning; drain before use)
- 1 large red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 3 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon tamarind paste or concentrate
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup Greek-style plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
Pour enough oil (2 to 3 inches deep) into a wok, Dutch oven or medium-size saucepan. Heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat until a candy or oil thermometer inserted into the oil (without touching the pan’s bottom) registers 350 F. An alternate way to see if the oil is at the right temperature for deep-frying is to gently flick a drop of water over the oil’s surface. If the pearl-like drop skitters across the surface, the oil is ready.
Line a plate or cookie sheet with 3 or 4 paper towels. Once the oil is ready, gently add the jackfruit (I place the fruit on a slotted spoon and submerge it in the oil). Stand back a little as the oil will splatter and bubble, but then subside to a gentle fry, to turn the jackfruit pieces light honey-brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and allow them to drain on the paper towels to absorb excess grease.
Transfer them to a bowl and toss to coat with the cayenne and turmeric.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of the oil used to fry the jackfruit into a large-size saucepan and heat it over medium heat. Sprinkle the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle and turn reddish-brown, 5 to 10 seconds. Add the potatoes carefully, stirring them occasionally, until they are light brown around the edges and some of them stick to the bottom, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the browned potatoes to a plate.
Whisk the tamarind in the water to dissolve it. Stir this tart, muddy-looking liquid into the pan. Heat to boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is slightly tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in the potatoes and continue to simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until both the fruit and potatoes are fork-tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
Fold in the yogurt and garam masala.