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Vegan chicken anyone?

Miguel Braganza

Shravan is a time to eat vegetarian food. For the devout and traditional folks who crave for a little chicken, or would like to have something ‘meaty’ during the monsoons, the humble jackfruit offers some classy options. So what if the Yankees in Florida first discovered that slightly immature jack fruit carpels could be shredded and used instead of chicken, mutton, pork or beef in burgers and bread rolls or eaten like ‘pulled pork’ with potato mash. We may be late starters in India, but we can replicate the success stories of Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and China.

Starting with soy bean, that the Chinese innovatively called ‘Su Ji’ or ‘vegetarian chicken’, the Americans discovered that the stringy texture of a young jackfruit lends itself perfectly for making pulled pork or chicken recipes. The Australians started their own recipes with jackfruit substituting animal meat. Jackfruit can be marinated in a creamy soy milk marinade, battered in breadcrumbs, and fried for eating with vegan mayonnaise or any dip of one’s choice. India has woken up to the potential of the tender jackfruit or, simply, TJF.

Tastes differ, so do wants. The cuisine also differs across India with each state having its own specialties. I have had the privilege to eat lunch in both Goa and Kerala, where the entire meal from soup and starters to main course and dessert were made entirely from jackfruit. Recently, inspired by a demonstration by Sunetra Talaulikar of KVK-North, the students of Don Bosco College of Agriculture (DBCA), Sulcorna, held an exhibition of various dishes they cooked up. The participants of the ‘3rd Advanced Workshop on Value Addition in Jack Fruit by Processing’ , organized by GCCI Agriculture Committee in association with the Western Ghats Kokum Foundation (WGKF), Panaji-Goa, and the DBCA-Sulcorna, were pleasantly surprised to see and taste the range of jackfruit dishes and drinks. It inspired the chairperson of the GCCI Women’s Wing, Dr. Jennifer Lewis-Kamat, to organize a three-day training in jack fruit processing at KVK-North Goa.

Goans love chicken xacuti so much that it even serves to swing the undecided vote during elections from the Panchayat to the Lok Sabha. Sunetra Talaulikar has cooked up a recipe for jack fruit xacuti that is very difficult to tell apart from boneless chicken xacuti. Those who have been foxed by cashew apple sorpatel will understand what I am talking about. Those who have not understood, should attend the training now on at KVK-North.

Tomorrow, Sneha Govekar, will introduce students of about thirty schools to the joys of jackfruit cutlets washed down with jackfruit squash at SFX School, Siolim. If your school has not received the invitation, just gate crash with two students and one teacher at 10a.m.

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