Born into a family of vegetarians I am totally clueless about the flavors of meat of any kind and hence I used to wonder what makes people to have cravings for meat. So I have been looking for vegetable substitutes for meat, and then started trying out the most popular meat-based recipes like biryani, kebab, kurma, etc. using those vegetable substitutes.
Earlier I used fleshy soy meat for making biryani (you may click here for the recipe), and lately I came to know that raw jackfruit seems to be a better substitute than textured soya for its fibrous meat-like texture and mildly sweet flavour. When raw jackfruit is cut into large chunks and used along with flavorful spices, it is almost impossible to differentiate the meat & raw jackfruit even by the die-hard meat lovers. Hence it is largely beneficial to people who switched to vegan diet 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.
- Since raw jackfruit recipes have less calories compared to meat recipes, it is useful for people on the weight-loss diet.
- 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 (palakkai) – 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 for 30 min.
- Wash rice & soak 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 & infused with 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 spatula.
- Transfer to a hot casserole.
- Serve warm biryani with onion raitha.
* If tomatoes & ground masala (like ginger-garlic paste) added together, moisture in tomatoes prevents the masala stick to the pan.