Kat-hal or Kathal ka Aachar/Achar
Kathal, pronounced as kut-hull, is called Jackfruit in English, botanical name Artocarpus heterophyllusis. It is very similar to Breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis, and it is said to originate from the North West and West India. The trees are large, reaching up to 25 meter in height, with shiny green leaves. It grows in parts of India where soil is never too dry and the climate is temperate. Fruits very in size, largest weighing up to 30 kilos. The unripe fruit has a green, spiky skin. In Northern India, creamy white, crisp flesh of an unripe jackfruit is cooked as a vegetable. It is often called 'meat of vegetarians' because of it's fibrous, meat like texture. In Western India/Bangladesh, it is mainly eaten when ripe, as a fruit. Ripe fruit has yellowish flesh and a rather foul smell, but it tastes delicious!
Jack fruit pickle is a seasonal pickle, made from unripe, fresh Jack fruit. It should be kept in a fridge once ready, because it gets mouldy easily.
1 kg. jackfruit flesh (after removing the thick skin)
A pan of boiling water
4-5 mustard seeds or rai
2 tsp. amchoor or dry mango powder
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. chilli powder (to taste)
1 cup mustard oil, heated until it smokes and then cooled. This takes the pungent smell off.
1 1/2 tsp. salt (to taste)
To prepare the flesh, you must wear gloves and oil your gloved hands, as well as the knife. It's milky sap is very sticky and difficult to get off the hands. Cut jackfruit into thick slices and take off a thick layer of skin, leaving approximately 1/2 cm. smooth, white flesh over the white fibrous part. Often grocers will do this for you, specially in India
Cut flesh into bite size pieces. If the stones or pips have a tough skin, peel them. Otherwise leave them as they are.
Put prepared flesh in boiling water, boil for 2-3 minutes and strain in a colander or large sieve.
Spread out on a towel and dry in the sun for 1-2 days, making sure that all the water has been dried off. A conservatory is excellent for this.
Put all ingredients in a large bowl and nix thoroughly, put in jars and leave it in the sun for 3-4 days. A sunny window sill will also do.
Once ready, store the jars in a fridge.
It is important that all water is dried off the boiled jackfruit, otherwise it will go 'off' very quickly.
A pinch of Sodium Benzoate added to pickles acts as preservative and helps to keep them for longer without getting spoiled.
Also see Pickle and Chutney Selection.