My mother and I were always at loggerheads. For the longest time, I believed that she was not my real mother because she consistently disapproved of me and I ensured I did everything to earn her disapproval. I remember once in a fit of rage I wrote a letter to my masi (Mother’s sister), who stayed in Delhi to come and rescue me. Of course, the letter reached my other masi, who in turn told my mother which lead to a sound thrashing.
However, it doesn’t matter how appalling we were as kids, our parents do love us, and while they might not say it out loud, their actions state it. My mother’s way of doing that was by cooking me my favourite meal after one of our fights. While my brother loved Rajma (kidney beans) and Bhindi) I loved Kathal (Jackfruit). My mother was allergic to the green skin that covered the fruit, but I remember her cooking it for me with her hands covered with a rash that would develop every time she touched a Jackfruit just so her petulant child could feel some love.
Once I moved away from home, Kathal always appeared on the lunch table whenever I visited, and there was always a portion of it packed in a box for me to take. Even now every time I visit India, Maa makes it for me because she knows how much I love it. So, when I found Kathal in Sydney, my joy knew no bounds.
Frantic calls to the mothership happened, and the recipe was jotted down with care. I made the dish with anticipation and excitement, and it looked good and tasted great. But something was missing. So, I called Maa, and we dissected the recipe. Still, we couldn’t figure out what had happened. As we both started reminiscing my childhood days, we felt nostalgia creep up on slowly. And after I hung up the phone I realised, that the Kathal made by me did not taste like hers was because it was not made with her loving tired hands.
Recipe (Cooking time 45 minutes, serves 4 – 5)
1/2 kg Jackfruit without the Green skin (You can also use frozen jackfruit, easily found in Indian shops)
2 medium sized Onions roughly chopped
2 large Tomatoes Pureed of chopped really fine
1/2 inch Ginger
5 cloves of Garlic
1 medium sized Cinnamon stick
1 tsp Coriander seeds
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Red Chilli powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 cup Vegetable Oil.
Handful of fresh Green Coriander for garnishing
1) Cut the Jackfruit into medium sized pieces. If they are difficult to handle put some oil on your hands to chop them. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and fry the Jackfruit pieces few at a time till they turn Golden on all sides. Remove from the hot oil drain on a paper towel and keep aside.
2) In the same pan (if there is excess oil you can remove it, she usually uses 2 tsp of Oil) add the Cloves, Cinnamon, Ginger, Garlic, Cumin Seeds and Coriander seeds. Fry for a minute or 2 and then add the Onions and Green Chillies. Fry the Onions till they turn brown. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes before blitzing it in a grinder to a smooth paste.
3) In the same pan add the Onion paste and cook for a few minutes till the oil starts to separate. Now add the Tomato puree and cook for 5 – 7 minutes before adding the fried Jackfruit pieces.
4) Take 1 cup of water and add the Salt, Red Chilli, Turmeric and Coriander powders, mixing everything well. Add this paste to the pan on top of the Jackfruit. Cover and cook for 10 – 15 minutes till the fruit turns a little mushy.
Serve it hot garnished with freshly chopped green coriander along with fresh chapatis sprinkled with a little Ghee and you will thank me for it