Phanasaachi Bhaji (Raw Jackfruit Bhaji)

Being Mother’s day today, what better occasion than to post a few recipes that my mom makes wonderfully well – which are nothing ‘elaborate’, but rather part of our everyday diet and those that one tends to long for after extended periods away from home. Here is the first of these – made from something that I love both in its raw form (as this Bhaji) as well as in its ripened avatar – Jackfruit or ‘phanas’ (as it is called in the konkan region)

Incidentally, raw jackfruit bhaji (or sabji) can be made at two ‘stages’ of the raw jackfruit :

  • One is when the jackfruit is really a ‘baby’ – small, tender, yet to be formed and is about 3/4th of a foot or smaller in length
  • Two is when it is fully grown and mature but yet to ripen.

In the konkan region, there is a special term used for each stage. The first baby raw phanas is called ‘Kuvra’ or ‘Kuvro’ while the mature one is called ‘Garyaa-Gotyaacha Phanas’.

This recipe is for a ‘kuvra’ phanas.

Note: While buying a Kuvra phanas, make sure that it is green…and the stem is also green. This is an indication of freshness.

Ingredients:

  • Kuvra Phanas / Raw Jackfruit – 1 (about 3/4th foot in length)
  • Toor Dal – 4 tspns
  • Onion (medium size) – 1, finely chopped
  • Fresh Coconut – grated – 1/2 cup
  • Whole Black Peppers – 8 to 10
  • Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds (rai) – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric (haldi) – 1/2 tsp
  • Asafotida (heeng) – 1/2 tsp
  • Green Chillies – 1 or 2, slit
  • Red Chilly Powder – 1/2 to 3/4th tsp
  • Oil – 1-2 tspns
  • Salt to taste

‘Prepping’ the Phanas:

The raw phanas is full of a kind of liquidy resin, called ‘dinka’ in Marathi/ Konkani. So before you cut the phanas, spread some old newspapers and apply some oil on the knife you use as well as smear some on your hands – else it gets difficult to get the sticky resin off later. As you start cutting the phanas, the ‘dinka’ starts oozing out – hence the old newspapers. Keep wiping off the ‘dinka’ with old newspaper bits.

Cut the phanas along its length into two halves. Then cut the individual halves into 2 or 3 pieces, so that each piece is approximately the size of your palm. Put these large pieces in water as you cut them and then wash them thoroughly 2-3 times.

Pressure-cook these pieces adding a little salt & water-  for 2 whistles & an additional 2 minutes on a low flame. Allow this to cool and then get to chopping the phanas for the actual bhaji. The pressure cooking is a short-cut to ensure that the thick skin/ cover of the phanas comes off easily.

Take the cooled pieces and cut out the skin as well as the thick portion at the centre of the phanas – the core. There is a special term for this portion as well in the Kokani (malvani) language – called the ‘maav’. The remaining part of the phanas is the edible part. Chop this into approximately 1 sq cm pieces. Now you are ready to make the bhaji

Procedure:

Wash and soak the toor dal in water for a few hours. (So make sure you do this either the previous night or a few hours before you intend to make the bhaji)

Grind the fresh grated coconut and the black peppers coarsely – it should NOT become a fine paste. Just ensure that the peppers get properly ground. Keep aside.

In a pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. Once they pop, add the haldi, heeng and green chillies. Then add the chopped onion and saute till the onion turns transluscent. Next add the soaked toor dal and saute some more. Then add some water (about 1/4th cup) and steam, putting some water on the lid too.

Once the onion and dal is fully cooked, add the chopped phanas, red chilly powder and salt to taste (remember you have pre-cooked the phanas with some salt too – so account for that!). Mix it all together and steam, covering the pan with a lid.

Then add the ground mix of coconut+peppers and the jaggery, stir till they blend well with the rest of the bhaji and steam some more for a bit – and your Phanasaachi Bhaji is done!

Have with rice or chappaties (rotis).

Note: You can use Black peas (Kaala Vaataana) instead of Toor Dal too (just that kaala vaataana is not that easily available)