Tag Archives: Fake Meat

“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.