Kathal ki biryani is the ultimate vegetarian biryani that even I like. Normally the vegetarian biryanis are never impressive in any way, apart from being a mixed vegetables, nuts and rice cooked together. I prefer my khichdi over vegetarian Biryani. But Kathal or Jack fruit biryani is different.
Now truth be told, I had never had any kathal ki biryani in my life. And this girl from Bangalore would keep requesting me to post more kathal recipes as she loved them and wanted to cook. I brought a whole kathal once and turned lazy in the coming week, made kathal ka dopyaza first as that is my first choice, the remaining kathal got wasted. Yes. Sad.
But then as I kept thinking of kathal ki biryani, I picked up a fat slice of kathal on day from the subziwala and cleaned and chopped it almost immediately. Kathal ki biryani was planned for the next day, cooking was to be done early in the morning as I had planned to pack this 'biryani' to Arvind's lunch box as well. I thought it would taste like tahiri if not biryani and he anyway loves tahiri so it wont be a problem. I succeeded in making this kathal ki biryani in about 30 minutes, packed half of it for his lunch and half for myself. It was at my lunch time that I realised it actually was a good 'biryani'. Kathal is quite meaty and works well for biryani if treated well. Finally a biryani for vegetarians.
Just take care to chop the kathal in shreds, separating the seeds (saving it for a curry if the seeds are mature) if the kathal has any. The one I used had very soft seeds so I let them be. Remove the parchment like seed coat from each seed and reserve the fleshy and fibrous parts of the fruit. You would need to smear oil to your hands, the chopping board and the knife when you chop and peel kathal.
kathal chopped like above 2 cups packed
basmati rice 1/2 cup
water 1 cup
tejpatta 2 leaves
whole black pepper corns 12
shahi jeera (caraway seeds) 1/2 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
pathhar phool or chhadila (lichen spice)
garam masala (green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and a little mace powdered together) 1 tsp
black pepper powder 1/2 tsp (optional)
whole red chillies 2
sliced onions 1 cup
ginger julienne 2 tbsp (or half as much, I like this biryani a bit hot)
As I mentioned I worked around a shortest possible method to cook this biryani, the fact that the kathal was chopped and refrigerated in advance helped. To make it quicker, I cooked the rice in microwave till the kathal was prepared in a pan of gas stove. Later both were mixed with light hand and microwaved again with a lid. This helped the rice look really separated and kathal stay meaty and not get mushy.
Wash the rice, add water to it along with the tejpatta and patthar phool. These two spices bring the biryani flavours really well, making kathal ki biryani taste a bit like mutton biryani, although there is a wee hint only, but pleasing to the senses. Cook the rice in microwave as you would normally cook rice, but take it out as soon as the rice is 3/4th done. Cover and reserve. By the time rice cooks to this stage, you will be half done with the kathal on the pan.
To prepare the kathal for biryani, heat ghee in a pan or kadhai and tip in the sliced onions, separated well so they fry nicely. Let the onions fry till they get golden brown. Take out half the onions and reserve, add whole spices, ginger julienne and chopped kathal to the remaining onions in the pan, one after the other, stirring in between. Add salt and cook covered for about 10 minutes, on low flame.
Add the powdered spices, stir and mix well and cook covered till the kathal is done. Take about another 10 minutes. You might need to sprinkle some water during cooking as kathal may get dry and can get charred.
Mix the cooked kathal and the 3/4th cooked rice. Cover and microwave for 5 minutes or till the rice looks fresh and done.
Serve hot with raita and some salad. I had it with one boiled egg and and fruits and vegetable mix raita. These pictures are of my lunch that I had after 4 hours of cooking the biryani. Reheated kathal ki biryani tastes great too.
I cooked this biryani in pressure cooker too one day, as usual in the morning hurry hours, thinking it might be good that way too. The taste was the same, the rice grains looked a bit thicker and the kathal pieces were a bit too soft for my taste. I wont make it in pressure cooker ever. The above method worked best every time I cooked it. Four times to be precise :-)
You already know I loved this kathal ki biryani although I have been vehemently opposing any vegetable pulav being called as biryani all this while. The pathhar ke phool (black stone flower) imparts a hint of meaty flavours to this biryani and this pulav/tahiri steps up a rung towards biryani :-)