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Times of vegetarianism: Bengaluru eateries are creating offbeat dishes with jackfruit



BENGALURU: All it took was one jackfruit tree growing delightfully next to a restaurant on Castle Street to create a movement of sorts in Bengaluru. Chef Manu Chandra spotted a jackfruit tree growing next to his restaurant and it translated into several offbeat dishes like jackfruit ice-cream, kebabs, biryani, tacos, bao and burger across his menus at Toast & Tonic, Monkey Bar and The Fatty Bao.

“It’s as farm-to-fork as it can get,” says Chandra, adding, “Jackfruit is anti-mono culture and the need of the hour. The fruit has a wide variety of applications.”

Many dining menus are now dotted with interesting interpretations of the popular fruit from the Western Ghats and the recently-appointed state fruit of Kerala. Experts say that jackfruit is the next big thing as it mimics meat and is a natural sweetener which makes it versatile in trending times of vegetarianism.

Mani Mohan Pathak, executive chef of Howard Johnson hotel in Hebbal, serves grilled jackfruit with honey and chilli drizzle, jackfruit salad with ricotta cheese and as salsa with jalapenos. He organised a dedicated jackfruit food festival a few months ago.

“It is the jack of all fruits. Even the seeds and petals can be roasted and used in offbeat ways. One of the cheapest fruits at Rs 120 per kg, it is new tool that is making us push our creative envelope,” says Pathak.

Jackfruit biryani has found itself in menus of Go Native and The London Curry House. The Green Path in Malleswaram serves millet jackfruit payasam. The Big Pitcher microbrewery serves jackfruit beer during season.

Organic food brands too are capitalising on this trend. Like Surya Shastry, MD of organic food export company Phalada Agro, has launched ready-to-eat jackfruit curries with Indian seasonings. International versions with Teriyaki and BBQ sauces are on the cards.

Shastry notes, “The five-time rise in our jackfruit exports in the past three years gave us the idea to introduce ready-to-eat curries. We have seen a month-on-month 20-30% increase in sales.”

Home cooks are exploring this rediscovered fruit too. Health coach Mariam Begg baked a jackfruit cake recently after she fell upon jackfruit jams and dehydrated chips at flea markets. “Jackfruit is a natural sweetener and thus makes for good low-calorie desserts. The fruit is also a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, electrolytes and protein which has caught the fancy of wellness-conscious Bengaluru,” says Begg.

Food blogger Nikhilesh Murthy recalls that jackfruit has been extensively used in traditional Malayali and Tamil cooking but is getting the commercial push now. “Jackfruit is surfacing as a result of growing interest in rising vegan culture and the push for local produce in commercial kitchens,” says Murthy.

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