Sunday, June 2, 2013

Halasina beejada huli a.k.a jackfruit seeds sambar - Summer sensations from India

Are you wondering why I am talking about jack fruit, well not even the fruit but the seeds while everyone is presenting beautiful creations of the Summer fruit - Mango? Jack fruit is also in season in the hot climates of Asia from Mar-Aug (covers the Summer, doesn't it?) and it is every bit as delicious as the mango though the tastes and textures are very different. Lastly, for me, sitting here in my home far away from where I grew up, jack fruit is in season whenever I spot it in the aisles of my grocery store :-). So that is where the story began. For the first time in over a decade, I found some cut jack fruit pieces in my grocery store a few months back and I didn't even trust my sense of smell until I actually saw the quartered pieces nestled among the vegetables next to some melons. I pinched myself once to make sure I wasn't dreaming, picked it up and then the smell just engulfed me. I didn't think DD would remember eating this fruit while in India but she did and she loved it just as much as her ajji (grand mother) does. BH feigns allergy to jackfruit though I think it is non existent but I don't force him to eat it for selfish reasons :-). So whenever I find the fruit in the store, I bring a piece home and as we opened up the jack fruit to get to the yummy 'fruit' part, I started collecting the seeds that come with it. I made about 2 cups (25-30 seeds) in a matter of few weeks :-)

Back in India, as soon as the jack fruits appeared in the market, my father used to ride on his 2 wheeler and choose a humongous, ripe jack fruit, stand it up in front of his drivers seat (imagine Bajaj Chetak) and support it with his feet (I know it was not the safest way to ride a 2 wheeler but I can't find fault with my dad, ever, let us just say he was a safe driver :-)) and ride back home. We would run to the scooter with an old, partially torn gunny sack, help Dad ease the fruit on to it, hold the corners of the sack and bring it inside. Then, Anna would change into his work clothes - jack fruit cutting is a very messy job, involves smearing the knife, cutting board and your hands with a layer of oil if you don't want the sticky, gooey stuff hanging on to you hours later. Then, we would spread old news papers on the floor, move the fruit with the sack onto the paper, generously apply oil to our hands and sit around expectantly. Anna would prepare the big sharp knife and the smaller slightly blunt ones and cut the fruit into half, then quarters and 1/8ths (yes, it had to be a lesson in fractions even then :-)) and then picking one of the small pieces, would deftly go through all the protective layers to reach the fruit, take one out and say, "Give it to Amma and she will know if it is ripe" :-). My mom who doesn't go overboard with any food, can gorge on jack fruit, it is one of her favorite fruits. He did this year after year as far as I can remember as it was one of Amma's favorite fruits. And he knew how to pick the juiciest, sweetest jack fruit by looking at their outside crocodile like skin and the spacing of the spikes on it.

We would all get our own cut pieces to work through the layers and eat the fruit. There is a saying in Kannada, "Hasidu Halasu tinnu, undu maavu tinnu" which roughly translated means - jack fruit should be eaten on an empty stomach and Mango on a full stomach. Jack fruit can be very filling and that is what we filled ourselves with whenever the fruit was brought home. Some cut portions went to the neighbors and we ate a lot, kept some stored away for later but all the seeds were collected onto a separate plate or news paper sheet. Amma would wash and remove the top layer and keep it for drying. These taste great whether you fire roast them or cook them until soft. The seeds have a buttery texture, taste resembling walnuts. While the fire roasted seeds were sprinkled with salt and consumed as a snack, the cooked ones mostly went into a Huli/sambar or a Palya/dry curry with coconut.

So what is this Huli I am talking about? While Sambar is World (well, almost) famous as an accompaniment to Idli and Dosa, in Karnataka we call it 'Huli' (literally meaning 'Tangy'). It is similar in concept to the sambar but has its own variations from family to family. Huli is a staple dish served with cooked white rice in Kannadiga homes, in fact eating sambar with Idli or Dosa is not a common home style food in Karnataka but more of an acquired taste from the neighboring states and also due to the popularity of restuarants. Idli/dosa is almost always accompanied by chutney or other special items at home. Huli is made with a home made spice powder or using freshly roasted and ground spices. Huli always has lentils (usually Toor dal) and tamarind and Karnataka style of making it includes a single vegetable or some well known combinations such as Aalugedde-eerulli (Potato-onion), badane kaayi-kaalu (eggplants - some whole grains like chick peas or cow peas etc). Jack fruit seeds Huli is special given its seasonal nature and Nammamma made it without adding any other vegetables while I have included some onion and carrots here.
I don't make/keep a lot of Huli pudi or Sambar powder at home since our Huli consumption is limited and I like to freshly roast and grind the spices whenever I make the Huli. Also, since I add or delete a few ingredients in the spice mixture depending on the vegetable used, it works out well for me. You can use your regular sambar powder for this recipe, look at the notes for tips to enhance the flavor.

What do you need to make Halasina beejada Huli? 
3/4 cup toor dal
1.5 cup (more or less) jack fruit seeds
2-3 carrots (optional) - peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
1 medium onion - chopped roughly
2 Tblsp grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
1 gooseberry size tamarind - soaked in water and juice extracted
1 Tblsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/8 Tsp turmeric powder
To be roasted and ground:
1 Tblsp oil
1 Tblsp coriander
2 Tsp chana dal
1 Tsp urad dal
1/2 Tsp cumin
1/2 Tsp fenugreek
2-1 inch pieces cinnamon
1 clove
6-8 red chilies
Seasoning :
1 Tsp oil
1 Tsp mustard
1/4 Tsp fenugreek seeds
4-5 curry leaves
1/8 Tsp asafoetida
How do you make Halasina Beejada Huli? 
  • Heat a Tblsp oil in a pan, add all the ingredients listed under "to be roasted and ground" and roast them for 3-5 minutes on medium heat until you start getting a nice aroma and the dals turn pink.
  • Switch off and let cool. 
  • Take all the roasted ingredients, grated coconut, 1 Tblsp of chopped onion and grind into a smooth paste adding about 1/2 cup of water. 
  • Wash the toor dal and jack fruit seeds in a pressure cooker vessel, add chopped onions, carrots and 2 cups of water and cook for 3-4 whistles  - this timing depends on your pressure cooker but the dal needs to be cooked completely and the seeds become tender. 
  • Let the pressure subside before opening the cooker, mix the contents, add salt, turmeric and the tamarind extract. Let it come to a boil before adding the ground masala. 
  • Mix well and adjust the consistency with water as needed and let it come to a roaring boil before switching it off. 
  • Heat oil for seasoning in a pan, add the mustard and fenugreek seeds, let them pop, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Switch off and pour the sizzling seasoning over the Huli. 
  • Serve Huli warm or hot with rice or even rotis. 
  • You can add 1/4 of a medium tomato while grinding the spices to enhance taste. Adjust tamarind based on the tang from tomato.
  • Huli always has a tiny bit of jaggery added to it but I don't add it in this particular one since the jack fruit seeds have a faint sweetness to them.
  • The consistency of this Huli is generally slightly thicker compared to most other pouring consistency sambars and hence not very well suited for Idli/Dosa accompaniments. Eat it either with rice or rotis. 
  • You can skip roasting and grinding the fresh powder and instead use 2 Tblsp of home made or store bought sambar powder. Try dry roasting 2- 1 inch piece cinnamon, take the Sambar powder, roasted cinnamon, 1 Tblsp raw onion, 2 Tblsp shredded coconut and grind it into a paste and add it to the gravy. This brightens up the Huli so much you don't recognize your dated Sambar powder in it :-)


NamsVeni Pothas said...

halasina beeja sambar is simply mouth watering. the other day i saw a very big jack fruit in the market. it's flavour was very tempting. but you know i can eat full jack fruit. i am eagerly waiting to taste the tasty sambar

Vijayalakshmi Dharmaraj said...

Nice dear... authentic one...

Akila said...

We do a stir fry using this jackfruit seed... Need to try ur recipe

Preety said...

you made it just perfect..

Ongoing Giveaway :-

Priya Suresh said...

I do this jackfruit seed sambar quite often sis.Makes me drool.

bali tour said...

Thank you for the information

Sesh Murthy said...

Thank you. The Huli came out really well. My entire family loved it.
By the way if you are in the Bay Area, Jack fruits are available really cheap at the McKee seafood store at the corner of McKee and 680.