“Chicken’s Younger Brother”

To continue with posts on food I don’t usually eat, but have had so far this week… today’s post is about jackfruit or katahar (कटहर) in Nepali, and also happened to have been my dinner last night.

According to wikipedia, jackfruit is the “largest tree borne fruit in the world, reaching 80 pounds (36 kg) in weight and up to 36 inches (90 cm) long and 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter.” It’s also the national fruit of Bangladesh! They are massive yellowish-green fruits with a thick bumpy outer skin, almost spiky but too dull to poke you.

While visiting a friend’s village in the Terai region of Nepal in 2009 we stacked the back of the car with large jackfruits to bring back to his family in Kathmandu, but it wasn’t until last night that I actually tried one.

Can of jackfruit used for dinner last night

The fruit is sometimes referred to as “vegetarian chicken” or as D poetically put it last night, “chicken’s younger brother” (while AS said, “shhh… don’t say that or C won’t eat it!”). It gets this reputation by how “meat-like” the vegetable can be, especially after cooking.

I’ve never been big on fake meat, mostly because I was never a big fan of the taste and texture of real meat, and thus lack that “meat nostalgia” some vegetarians struggle with. Sure I’ll eat veggie burgers (most don’t look or taste much like meat burgers anyway), and on very very rare occasions I might try some veggie sausage for breakfast, but that is about the extent of it. So eating a fruit that has the look and texture of meat was kind of strange and a bit unnerving.

jackfruit curry, left overs after dinner was finished.

Can you believe this is a *vegetable*?--jackfruit on my dinner plate... when you pull the individual pieces of jackfruit apart the pieces pull apart just like real meat. I swear this almost looks like pulled pork! The fruit also has small "eyes" in it that look similar to meat fat or bone sockets.

The taste was fine, but it took me a bit to get over the texture.

Final analysis: would I eat it again? Sure. Is it my favorite? No. There are lots of other “kinda like meat” Nepali foods that I would rate much higher… like masura or titora, even nutri-(soya) nuggets.

We also ate fried parbar as well. Unfortunately no one at the dinner table knew what “parbar” was in English, and I can’t find it online. Found in Indian grocery stores, it is a small oblong shaped green vegetable that can be sliced into quarters, the seeds removed, and fried with spices to make a snack. I should have taken a picture, but since we had 10 people for dinner, and I was already whipping out the camera for the jackfruit, I didn’t want to go overboard. If anyone knows what the English name is, please let me know!

— update:

Yes! It was “pointed gourd!”According to wikipedia it is sometimes colloquially called “green potato” in South Asia… which makes sense, because once it was fried, I told AS it tasted a little like a spiced french fry with a peel.

This is what the uncut vegetable looks like:

they might look like cucumbers but they are different on the inside.

13 responses to ““Chicken’s Younger Brother”

  1. I believe it is called snake gourd. The hindi name for parbar is “Parval” and I searched by that name. Hope this helps.

  2. Nope, not snake gourd – that is the ashy-green long gourd you see sometimes in desi grocery stores. Parval/Parbar is called pointed gourd, and wikipedia has plenty of information about it.

  3. I cannot at all recall the taste or texture of the jackfruit, but do recall the family I was with in Nepal boiling the pits for eating. I remember that those were really tasty.

  4. They look interesting. Would like to give it a try!

  5. not gonna lie… it kinda looks gross….

  6. honeybeeluvsjackfruit

    JACKFRUIT! my luv ;) lol

    If you are able to get your hands on some, jackfruit halwa is out of this world! The fried ‘chips’ made from unripe jackfruit is really good too. I’ve also eaten fresh ripe jackfruit which is yumm as well. Have not tried it in cooking yet though, and I won’t use canned ones, so I have to wait to find some… might be waiting a long time, haha. I had seen a couple recipes I want to try… if only I can find those again. Oh, you can also use the seeds in cooking. Very interesting fruit, na?

    Oh, and I won’t touch nutri-nuggets with a 10 ft pole. Barf.

  7. I’ve had jackfruit many times, it grows all over Bangladesh! I’ve never had it in a curry though. Sounds interesting. I’ll have to try it out sometime.

    Jackfruit reminds me of a banana taste, and since they fry that up in curry too (in plantains) I bet it would be good.

  8. strange. I’ve only had Jackfruit in juice form at a Vietnamese restaurant.

  9. Thanks for this description.
    I teach English to refugees from Berma. They were trying to explain a “jack fruit.” With their lack of English and my lack of Sight, I could not understand it. Actually, I usually like spontaneous conversation and they were quite enthusiastic, but I still could not understand.
    and, I can’t find it anywhere.
    I’ll have to keep looking.
    Last week I went to an Asian market that sells halal meat. I was trying to fimd some items to make an authentic Pakistani/Indian dinner. I was looking for things like yogurt, garlic paste, some sweet mangos, ginger paste, some Gulab Jaman or Burfi and some halal meat.
    The problem was that
    I am an American totally blind woman,
    looking for Indian food ingredients at an Asian market
    being assisted by Mexican people who barely know English.
    Is that hilarious or what?
    I had high hopes. Since I can’t see to read the labels, the Mexicans could not speak much English and I don’t speak much Spanish and I was looking for Indian food.

    My hubby from Pakistan does not know “jack fruit,” but I still want to try it out.
    And, can you tell me what Duck fruit is?

  10. That gord sounds good, also. I’ll have to find it and try it. I always want to try new vegetables and find some new favorites for us.

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