Sri Lankan Jackfruit Curry
This is absolutely one of my favorite dishes and recipes from my SRI LANKA vegan cookbook & ebook! I make it often at home, and have cooked it up for many dinner parties, cooking shows, and it’s regularly featured at the cooking classes I do, too. It’s really easy to make and it’s one of those dishes that’s a real crowd-pleaser, for vegans, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
Strangely, Sri Lankan food is still not really that well-known in the world culinary scene — and the vegan scene, but it’s popularity and visibility has improved in the last few years. It’s kind of like jackfruit itself, which only recently has started to get really hyped and celebrated outside of Asia, where it has a long tradition and has been enjoyed for… well, practically forever! I suspect as Sri Lanka becomes more popular as a travel destination, more people will fall in love with the cuisine. Admittedly, I fell in love with Sri Lankan food about 10 years before my trip to Sri Lanka — there are some amazing Sri Lankan and South Indian eateries in Paris and Berlin that blew me away!
This Sri Lankan Jackfruit Curry is made with coconut milk, and it’s really creamy and intense. Jackfruit, kind of like plain tofu or tempeh or soy chunks (TVP), takes on the flavors of the sauce and marinade. The texture and freshness are amazing, and I enjoy it much more than the soy and faux-meat variations. (Which all work in this curry mix, too, btw!) You can use all kinds of coconut milk, or even make your own. If I buy coconut milk, I always try to get organic coconut milk with no weird additives and preservatives. In Germany, my favorite coconut milk is from Dr Goerg. It’s super rich and creamy, and combined with a little hit of coconut blossom syrup in the curry, this dish gets crazy delicious!
The main thing to know about cooking with jackfruit outside of Asia is: It’s easy to find! It’s inexpensive and really nothing bizarre. Almost every Asian import grocery store I’ve been to in the US, Canada, Germany, France, England, Holland and other parts of Europe, whether big city or little town, has Green Jackfruit (unsweetened!) in a can… but the yellow jackfruit which is primarily for sweet dishes and desserts is also usable, if you rinse off the syrup and adjust the spices / salt accordingly. Green jackfruit is the unripened, slightly tougher, less sweet fruit.
I had Jackfruit Curry in at least 10 different places in the 10 weeks I spent in Sri Lanka. Each restaurant and every family make it a bit different. I’ve also made lots of different variations on this one– sometimes sweeter, sometimes spicier, sometimes creamier, sometimes with other fun stuff like greens… or even pineapple!
Sri Lankan specialty in creamy coconut curry
recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – SRI LANKA: A Culinary Adventure with over 70 vegan recipes
serves 3 to 4 / time 30 min +
- 2 1/2 cups (350 g) young green jackfruit (unsweetened!)
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 green or red chili seeded, finely chopped optional
- 2 Tbs vegetable oil or coconut oil
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin ground
- 1/2 tsp coriander ground
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds ground
- 1/2 tsp (brown) mustard seeds ground
- 1/2 tsp chili powder or paprika ground
- 3/4 tsp turmeric ground
- 2 small pieces cinnamon bark
- 6–8 curry leaves
- 2 pandan (rampe) leaves or bay leaves
- 1 cup (240 ml) coconut milk
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) water more as needed
- 1–2 Tbs lime juice or lemon juice
- 1 Tbs agave syrup or sugar
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- fresh coriander chopped, for garnish
- If using canned jackfruit, rinse and drain well. Chop into cubes or strips.
- Heat oil in a medium pot on medium heat. Add chopped onion, garlic, chili (if using), curry powder, ground cumin, coriander, black pepper, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, chili powder (or paprika), turmeric, cinnamon, curry leaves, and pandan (or bay) leaves.
- Fry until onion begins to soften, stirring constantly, 3–5 min.
- Add chopped jackfruit, lime (or lemon) juice, agave syrup (or sugar) and salt. Mix well.
- Fry, stirring regularly, another 3–5 min.
- Add coconut milk. Stir several times. Bring to low boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer partially covered, stirring regularly, until jackfruit pieces soften and fall apart,12–15 min. While cooking, gradually stir in water (or more coconut milk) as desired, for thinner curry.
- Remove cinnamon bark and bay leaves before serving.
- Garnish with fresh, chopped coriander. Serve with rice.
Sweet & Red: Add 1 cup (80 g) chopped pineapple and 1 chopped tomato along with jackfruit.
Vedic: Omit onions and garlic, and add pinch asafoetida (hing) powder. Add jackfruit along with all spices.
This recipe is from my third vegan cookbook, The Lotus and the Artichoke – SRI LANKA: A Culinary Adventure with over 70 vegan recipes. Available in English, German, and also as an e-book!