Being born into a vegetarian family I have been totally clueless about the taste of meat of any kind and hence I used to wonder what makes people to have cravings for meat. So I began to try out the most popular recipes like biryani, kebab, kurma, etc. by replacing meat with vegetable substitutes.
Earlier I used fleshy soy meat for making biryani (you may click here for the recipe). Few years ago I learned that raw jackfruit is found to be a better substitute than textured soya for its fibrous meat-like texture and mild sweet flavour. When raw jackfruit is cut into large chunks and used along with flavorful spices, it is almost impossible to differentiate between meat & raw jackfruit even by the die-hard meat lovers. Hence it is largely beneficial to people who want to transform themselves into vegans to satisfy their cravings for meat.
Benefits of using raw jackfruit in place of meat:
- Raw jackfruit is an inexpensive produce that can be used to replace almost any type of meat.
- It is super easy & super fast to cook this vegetable compared to meat.
- The food prepared with meat has more calories than the one with raw jackfruit.
- Raw jackfruits are easily digestible than meat.
- It is a lot more easier & cheaper to grow jackfruit trees than raising livestock in a farm.
Now the recipe for palakkai biryani:
- Basmati rice – 1 cup
- Water – 2 cups (400 ml)
- Any neutral oil – ¼ cup (50 ml)
- Bay leaf – 1 No.
- Star anise – 1 No.
- Cashew nuts (mundhri) – 15 Nos.
- Raisins (dhratchai) – 25 Nos.
- Onion – 1 No. (large)
- Tomatoes – 2 Nos.
- Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
- Red chilli powder – 1 tsp (I used Kashmiri chilli powder here for its vibrant red color)
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Raw jackfruit – 1 No. (small)
- Red chilli powder – ½ tsp
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
- Salt – ¼ tsp
- Lemon juice – 1 tsp
For biryani masala:
- Cinnamon stick (pattai) – ½” piece
- Cloves (krambu) – 6 Nos.
- Green cardamom (yelakkai) – 2 Nos.
- Ginger – 1″ piece
- Garlic – 10 Nos.
- Shallots (sambar vengayam) – 20 Nos.
- Mint leaves – a handful
Mise en place:
- Peel the skin of raw jackfruit and chop roughly into large chunks.
- Sprinkle chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and lemon juice over the jackfruit pieces.
- Toss them together and set aside for marination of up to 30 min.
- Wash & soak rice in 400 ml of water and set aside.
- Slice onion lengthwise & dice tomatoes.
- Grind all ingredients for biryani masala into a smooth paste without adding water.
- Heat a heavy bottom pressure cooker with oil in medium flame.
- Add bay leaf & cinnamon stick and fry for 5 seconds.
- Add sliced onion, cashew nuts and raisins.
- Saute until onion slices turn translucent.
- Add turmeric powder & red chilli powder and fry for 10 seconds.
- Add diced tomatoes and ground masala together. *
- Add salt (¼ tsp) and saute until they turn mushy & oil begins to ooze out.
- Now add marinated chunks & salt (¼ tsp) and saute until they are soft & absorbed by masala.
- Pour water used for soaking into the cooker and bring it to a boil in high flame.
- Add soaked rice and salt (½ tsp).
- Close the pressure cooker and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- When the pressure is released, pour (1 tsp) of ghee over the cooked rice and close the cooker for 5 min allowing the aroma of ghee nicely permeated into biryani.
- Mix gently with a wooden spatuala.
- Transfer to a hot casserole.
- Serve warm biryani with onion raitha.
* If tomatoes & ground masala (like ginger-garlic paste) added together, the moisture in tomatoes prevents the masala stick to the pan.