Kathal (Raw Unripe Jackfruit) Dum Biryani

Kathal biryani is my favorite biryani amongst all other vegetarian biryani variations. I ate this scrumptious jackfruit biryani in one of my favorite restaurants in midtown east in New York City, named Amma, a few years ago. It’s a flavorful and exotic rice dish. Tender, green, and unripe raw jackfruit pieces are marinated with biryani spices, deep-fried, blended in a yogurt sauce, and then cooked with basmati rice in layers.

INGREDIENTS

  • 150 gms (5 oz approximately) raw jack fruit cut into pieces.
  • 1 US medium-sized onion finely chopped.
  • 1 tsp garlic paste.
  • 1/2 tsp ginger paste.
  • 3 green chilies.
  • 1 tsp cumin cilantro powder.
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder.
    (I prefer Kashmiri red chili powder.)
  • 1 tsp of biryani masala.
  • (I prefer Shan brand’s chicken biryani masala.)
  • 1/4th tsp turmeric powder.
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder.
  • Salt as per your taste.
  • 2 US medium-sized onions sliced finely.
  • 1/2 inch ginger’s strips, as shown in picture 2.
  • A little over 1 cup of extra-long (fine) basmati rice.
  • 1 black cardamom.
  • 1 green cardamom.
  • 4 cloves.
  • 1 bay leaf.
  • 1 star anise.
  • 3/4th cup yogurt.
  • 1/4th tsp saffron soaked in 1/2 cup of milk.
  • 2 tsp ghee.
  • 1 tbsp kewra water.
    (From Wikipedia – Kewra water is an extract distilled from pandanus flowers. It’s similar to rose water.)
  • Mint leaves (optional, I didn’t have it, so used a pinch of mint powder.)
  • 2 cups of wheat flour. Knead the dough and keep it aside.

RECIPE

  • Blend green chilies, finely chopped onions, ginger, and garlic to a fine paste.
  • Marinate jackfruit pieces with the paste, turmeric, biryani masala, cumin-cilantro powder, black pepper powder, a pinch of mint powder, and salt for 30 mins to an hour.
  • Boil water. Add a bay leaf, black cardamom, two cloves, salt, and little ghee in it.
  • Add rice to the boiling water and wait till the rice is 3/4th done. Keep it aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok, deep fry jackfruits, and keep them on an absorbent paper.
  • Deep fry 50% of finely sliced onions and keep them aside.
  • Use 1 tbsp of oil from the same jackfruit fried oil and heat it in a wok.
  • Next, add green cardamom, star anise, remaining cloves, and fry it all together.
  • Add remaining sliced onions, fry them till they are golden brown.
  • Add remaining marination paste, 1/2th tsp of biryani masala, 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder, ginger strips and 1/2 tsp of red chili powder.
  • Mix everything well and sauté it for a couple of minutes.
  • Pour yogurt in the wok, add a little bit of water, sprinkle some salt, and let it come to a boil.
  • Once the mixture is boiling, add fried jackfruit and mix everything well. Cook it for a few minutes, and turn off the stove.
  • Grease a heavy bottom biryani pan with the ghee and place it on a stove.
  • Add jackfruit mixture at the bottom layer and then spread 3/4th cooked rice
    on top it.
  • Squeeze some lemon juice if you want to add a tangy twist.
    (I did and loved it)
  • Next, pour spread saffron milk and kewra water on it.
  • Last but not least, add a layer of fried onion, and pour remaining ghee on it.
  • Seal the biryani pan edges with kneaded dough so that the steam doesn’t escape.
    The technique is known as ‘dum’. (Skip this step if you do not have kneaded
    dough, instead put a heavy lid on the wok to avoid the loss of steam).
  • Cover the pan with a lid and cook it for about 20 minutes on a low to medium
    flame.
  • The color and texture of the dough will change. Refer to picture number 7.
  • Remove the lid, garnish and serve the exotic biryani with a choice of your ‘raita’
    and ‘salan’.

You can also use a few mint leaves along with fried onions on the top layer. Some people also add rose water along with the kewra water.
Leftover biryani taste more delicious another day. I like to enjoy the aromatic biryani with onion, tomato, and cucumber raita.

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