Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Raw Jackfruit Fries (Saalla Upkari)

There are some dishes which are very authentic Manglorean Konkani. Saalla Upkari is one such dish which is a luxury for me to eat because many a times they get over much before the stipulated time period of consumption. These Fries are very popular in South Canara cooking and owing to abundance of Jackfruit crop which gets harvested in summer, ladies get plenty of opportunities to store the raw jackfruit which are picked from the choicest of trees, treated with a marinade of salt water and stored for monsoon consumption. This is a family favorite dish. It demands lot of work in terms of getting the right Jackfruit for the Fries. During summer, granny used to pick the most raw and tender Jackfruit kernels and marinade them in salt water with sea stones placed as weight on top of the kernels. These marinated Jackfruit kernels are called as Saal in Konkani. They had to be preserved in the salt water marinade for months together and eaten as a Reserve Food during Monsoon. They were stored in Porcelain Jars called as Bharnee in Konkani. Some of my aunts even now have tall porcelain Bharnee at their homes. My granny still has the tall, gigantic looking porcelain jars which she uses to store Raw Mango, Raw Jackfruit, Raw Paasphanas in salt water.

It takes me back to old stories which Grandma recited wherein during olden days, people did not have enough access to vegetables and groceries during rainy season. The best way to have reserve food and produce was begin the stock in summer. After nearly 3-6 months of marinade, the Jackfruit kernels are ready to be eaten. Mom had a small batch of Saal which she used to make Upkari recently. The kernels have to be evenly coated with red chilli powder. This recipe is not for the faint hearted and can be little bit spicy but very very tasty. I thought of posting them immediately lest they remain to be a royal dish and long forgotten one for the posterity.

Recipe Source ~ Mom
Preparation time ~ 30 minutes

Raw Jackfruit - 2 cups
Water - 1/2 cup
Red Chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Coconut Oil - For frying
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt - As per taste

Pick 2 cups of Raw Jackfruit from the stock and wash them thoroughly in water till the salty taste evades completely or is less in the jackfruit kernels. Sometimes, its better to soak them in water for an hour before they are ready to be cooked. Slice them if required or keep them even as they were when they were in the marinade.

Heat oil in a deep dish pan, season with mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. Add the sliced Jackfruit kernels and add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt. Give a gentle stir, add enough water for cooking purpose (almost 1/2 cup for 2 cups of Jackfruit) and cover with a lid and allow to simmer. Once water evaporates, stir well and serve hot with Rice and Daali Thoi.
Suggestions: If the Jackfruit kernels are on the firmer side, add more water while cooking. If the kernels are soft, then add less water, cooking time is less for these. If they are overcooked they would turn soggy and lose their flavour.

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