Jackfruit and Chickpea Curry

For the jackfruit curry buns, I sprinkled them with hemp seed. I’ve never used hemp seed before, but I hear it’s good for you? The exciting part of this, though, were the chickpeas. When I asked around, it seemed like jackfruit buns are a thing in Sri Lanka, and also jackfruit and potato buns.

But I really wanted to amp up the protein in these for my vegetarian friends, so I thought, why not chickpeas? And my peoples, it was good. Make a jackfruit curry, cook it down, add a can of drained chickpeas, simmer away the sauce to a nice, fairly dry curry with concentrated flavor.

You know what made it even better? I wanted just a little more flavor oomph, but without adding a meat product. How to get that umami? I researched what vegetarians use, and it seemed like mushroom powder was a popular option, coming out of Japanese cuisine. Didn’t have that on hand, though. (Recommendations for brands welcome, as I’d like to get some and try playing with it.) Another option, though, was liquid smoke….and I had a vague memory that Kevin had used that at some point.

So I asked him, and yes, we actually had some. I added a bit to the curry, somewhat hesitantly and dubiously, I admit, a little worried that I was going to ruin a big batch of jackfruit and chickpea curry, and I’d have to start all over. I put in maybe 2 tablespoons? But people, it really was good. It felt very weird, deliberately adding smoke to a dish, but on the other hand, traditionally, this kind of curry would be made in a chatti clay pot over a wood fire, so probably you’d get some smoke infused into the dish that way, so one could argue that the liquid smoke is actually *more* traditional than not including it…well, I don’t know if I’m confident making that argument. But I will note that it was good.

I don’t have a fully written out recipe for this yet — I’ll want to make it again with measurements. But this is the jackfruit curry recipe, so you could start with that, double it, add a can of drained chickpeas, add a few T of liquid smoke, and put it all in the buns from the mas paan recipe in my cookbook, and you’d be good to go. 


Jackfruit Curry / Palakai Kari
(30 minutes, serves 6)

Young jackfruit has a texture similar to meat, though softer; it’s more delicate, as is the flavor. It’s easy to find online in cans, packed in brine; it’s also often available at grocery stores, especially ones that cater to vegetarians. This savory curry sauce is identical to what I’d use for beef, but gives a notably different (and delicious) result when cooked with jackfruit instead. I’d serve this with rice, a green vegetable, and chutneys, pickles, and/or sambols.

2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 TBL ginger, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
3 TBL vegetable oil
1/4 tsp black mustard seed
1/4 tsp cumin seed
1 TBL red chili powder
1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
1 lb young jackfruit, cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 tsp salt
2 TBL lime juice
1 cup coconut milk + 1 cup water

1. In a large pot, sauté onions, ginger, and garlic in oil on medium-high with mustard seed and cumin seeds until onions are golden/translucent (not brown), stirring as needed. Add chili powder and cook 1 minute, stirring. Immediately stir in curry powder, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and lime juice.

2. Add jackfruit and stir on high for a few minutes. Add coconut milk and water, stirring gently to combine. Turn down to medium, and let cook 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally; add water if needed. Serve hot with rice or bread.

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