Palakottai thokku (a thick curry made out of jackfruit seeds) is a delightfully tasty side dish that we make quite often at home during the jackfruit season. Jackfruit vendors sell just the seeds as well if you don’t fancy the fruit. I remember old times when we’d buy a whole jackfruit and my athais and chithappa would oil their hands and prepare themselves for the jackfruit wrestling (it’s just like that scene in a song in Pithamagan) – cutting open the fruit and then pulling out the segments (solai). Jackfruits have a tough outer covering with little spikes all over their surface. Inside they’re sticky and slippery. It’s a great family bonding exercise too and its fun. Try it sometime.
The seeds are fleshy and are between an oval and a kidney bean shape. The seed usually has a plastic shell like inner covering and a sticky elastic outer covering. The outer covering is easy to rip off but the inner shell like peel is a little tricky to pull apart. There are a couple of ways to do this. You can dry the seeds under the sun for a day which will help dry out the peel and make it easier to remove. You could rub the seeds in a mud pot with a little water. This abrasive action helps loosen the peel. Or you could just halve them with a knife and then remove the peel. This curry is a very simple, straightforward thokku, no overpowering spices or masala to rob the dish of its distinctive taste. The Pala kottai/jackfruit seed is the star of the dish. These seeds also taste great barbecued as is on an open flame.
Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time: 20-30 mins Serves: 5
Jackfruit seeds – 4 cups Onions – 2 large chopped fine Tomatoes – 2 large chopped fine Red chilli powder – 2 tbsp Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp Black pepper powder – 1 tsp Oil – 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp Salt to taste Water – as necessary
1.Wash the jackfruit seeds well and remove the peel. Removing the peel is a little time consuming. You can dry the seeds under the sun the previous day which will make it easier to remove the peel. If you’ve not sun-dried them, you can take a handful of the seeds in a mud pot along with a little water and rub the seeds against the surface of the pot. This helps loosen the peel. Or you could simply chop them into halves with a knife and then remove the peel.
2.Once peeled, chop them into halves or quarters. Set aside.
3.In a kadai/skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil and add when hot add the chopped onions. Sauté till translucent. Add the tomatoes and again sauté till the tomatoes are soft. Add the chopped jackfruit seeds, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt and mix well. Add just enough water to immerse the seeds. Cover and cook on medium low till the seeds are cooked through and soft but firm – about 15-20 mins.
4.Uncover and cook on high so that the curry thickens. When the curry has attained a thick thokku consistency, add black pepper powder and drizzle 1 tbsp oil along the sides of the skillet. Mix well. Simmer on low for 5 minutes. Switch off. Serve hot with roti or as a side dish with rice.