Jackfruit biryani, vegan meat and Goa’s problem with the fiber-rich fruit
India time | 1 day ago | 05-09-2022 | 11:05 a.m.
PANAJI: In the land of “jumping chickens” and pork eaters, a meaty and nutritious food is slowly becoming a good option for vegetarians and meat eaters. In parts of Goa, biryani cooked with jackfruit “meat” is mouth-watering, although its commercial growth is slow. “Meat”, popular for its unique taste and health benefits, has been popular for some time in the vegan community and is now gaining more and more acceptance, even among die-hard meat eaters, even though small entrepreneurs and restaurants receive orders. for this unique dish pick up. “Jackfruit meat has the perfect texture and rich fiber, which can replace meat. Fortunately, it doesn’t smell like most meats, if harvested at the right stage and pre-processed,” said ICAR lead scientist MJ Gupta. In unripe form, when not pulpy or sweet, it is versatile as an ingredient for a multitude of preparations. “When jackfruit is raw, it has no taste, but it is able to absorb any masala. When cooked, it reaches the texture of meat, like chicken,” said Liza Pinheiro, in the western world, many swear that the taste of jackfruit is similar to that of pulled pork, especially after being cooked.But here in Goa, many insist that jackfruit biryani tastes more like its mutton counterpart.” It tastes like mutton, and many are developing a taste for it. A few people know about this biryani and I get orders for a variety of dishes,” said Damini Digvekar, a Valpoi-based housewife who prepares a variety of jackfruit dishes. Jackfruit biryani is prepared like any other biryani dish. “Semi-ripe jackfruit should be steamed or boiled, cut into meat-sized pieces and fried until light brown. The masala is added before mixing it with rice,” Gupta said. The jackfruit, like the coconut palm, is a ‘kalpa vriksha’ because every part of it can be made into a food product, besides being a good feed for livestock. As Goa’s king of fruits – the mango – disappeared from the market as the monsoon set in, the humble jackfruit was elevated to a higher status in the fruit market hierarchy. It has not always been so. In the past, jackfruit trees were often seen rotting on trees in villages. But now its visibility is increasing, perhaps due to its high medicinal value and importance as a chemical-free fresh food. And with its growing popularity comes the inevitable price hike. This season, the first products reached prices ranging from Rs 600 to 700 each. “This year, I bought 20 carpels of jackfruit (gore) for Rs 100, for my relatives at the resort. This means that the price has increased tenfold from 10 rupees for 20 medium-sized pieces in 2011 when we started promoting it at the Konkan Fruit Festival, and 20 rupees for 20 pieces at another festival in 2015,” said Miguel Braganza, a horticulturist. . In a few southern states, jackfruit processing is a multi-crore industry, with excellent payoffs for employment and food products. To promote its use locally, the Center has notified jackfruit as a crop for North Goa under one District, One Commodity (ODOP). The program is also part of the PM Formalization Program for Micro-Fund Processing Enterprises (PMFME). Two departments – industries, trade and commerce and agriculture – are preparing a roadmap to achieve the goals set by the food processing industries. The PMFME program is open to individual businesses, self-help groups (SHGs), farmer-producer organizations and producer cooperatives. Individuals can get a 35% grant with a cap of Rs 10 lakh, while groups can get a capital grant with a 35% grant. ICAR, Old Goa – as the state-level technical institute for PMFME offering expertise and training – and the Department of Agriculture, have worked to train and encourage value-added entrepreneurship , given its wide local reach. The Goa State Biodiversity Board set up a pilot project two years ago – a multi-fruit processing unit in Pale-Kotambi – to source jackfruit and other value-added products. After its success, the same model will be reproduced in Curchorem. A few entrepreneurs have started adding value on a small scale. A private exporter has partnered with a Canacona-based entrepreneur to locate and source raw jackfruit for partial processing and packaging for export to Europe as a fresh and frozen vegetable, to explore the market abroad. However, some argue that these agencies work piecemeal. “We don’t have the number of jackfruit trees or their location. New jackfruit trees are planted, but those bearing fruit are orphaned and unharvested. If mapping was done, it would help the procurement process and the establishment of community cold stores,” an official said. Field research and tree density surveys are essential for planning and for farmers to take control. “The harvest must be done before the rains come. The raw broth can be frozen for year-round use, for making bhaji or other dishes,” a source said. State departments face a problem of contractor disinterest. “The difficulty in Goa is to find an entrepreneur, because everyone wants to earn money quickly. Just check what Artocarpus Foods Pvt Ltd (a Kannur-based jackfruit processing industry) has achieved for inspiration,” Braganza said. But some hope the pioneers can pave the way for others. “If an entrepreneur comes up with the idea for a jackfruit cafe or restaurant, serving burgers, xacuti, schnitzels and sweet dishes, I’m sure others will follow,” Gupta said.