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Vegan Jackfruit Biryani

Jackfruit Biryani
Written by Malena

Find the recipe card for this dish at the bottom.

I love this Biryani! This is possibly my favorite dish of all time, especially since I became vegan. I have made vegetable Biryani before but I have never considered it to be something special. There is one key ingredient that does the trick though, and that’s jackfruit. 

young jackfruit on tree

Jackfruit is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia and is believed to have originated in the southwestern rain forests of India. It is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching as much as 35 kg in weight, 90 cm (35 inch) in length, and 50 cm (20 inch) in diameter. So you can imagine, this fruit is pretty huge! This is why it’s very difficult to get fresh jackfruit, unless you live close to the source. You will commonly find canned jackfruit though in many Asian supermarket. Keep in mind that canned food isn’t great for your health and its consumption should be limited! 
 green jackfruit in can

The great thing about this fruit is that is it so versatile. The young, green jackfruit that isn’t ripe yet makes a wonderful “meat” substitute in savory dishes. Of course it won’t taste exactly like meat, but it is pretty neutral in taste and takes on any spices you add. Together with its chewy texture it comes pretty close to chicken, in my opinion. 

green canned jackfruit in pieces

texture of green jackfruit, canned

When jackfruit ripens, it turns into this wonderful sweet orange fruit that you just can’t get enough from. It also makes wonderful chips after being dehydrated. You might be able to get unsweetened jackfruit chips in your local health store or Asian supermarket. It’s definitely worth a try! They are naturally very sweet already.

ripe jackfruit on tree

Although it might look like a lot of work, making jackfruit Biryani is very simple once you have all the ingredients and doesn’t take too much active time. Sometimes I even make it for breakfast!

You want to start by marinating the jackfruit. This can be easily done within 5 minutes. It is best to be done the night before to give it time to adopt the aromas and spices. If you forget about it, then make sure to do it at least 4 hours before cooking the Biryani.

Start by mincing 20g of ginger and 20g of garlic. You could also just use 40g of ginger garlic paste, I guess, but I like to keep things as fresh as possible. Then mix the minced ginger & garlic with the soy yoghurt, olive oil and the spices. Make sure you use neutral non-gmo soy yoghurt without any added sugars or other stuff that doesn’t belong in there. Your mixture should look something like this:

ginger garlic marination

Open your can of jackfruit and drain all the liquid. Take out the pieces of jackfruit and cut them into very small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the more taste they adopt, because of the increased surface. Then add the jackfruit pieces to your marination and mix well until every piece is somewhat covered with marination.

jackfruit marination

Cover with plastic foil and keep in the fridge overnight or for 4 hours. 

jackfruit marination

Right before cooking your Biryani, fill a little bit of water (ca. 100 ml) into a small bowl and sprinkle a few strands of saffron into it and mix it well. Set that bowl aside for later.

saffron soaked for biryani
Then I like to start off by preparing the rice. Place a cooking pot with around a liter of water on your stove. Add all the spices for the rice water. Turn the stove on high heat and wait until the water starts cooking by forming bubbles. 

spices in rice water

In the time that the water takes to cook (mine takes usually 5 minutes), take your marinated jackfruit out of the fridge and place it all in a big pot. Add the Biryani ingredients to it (¼ tsp. chilli, 1 tsp. salt, 1 cup soy yoghurt, 1 tsp. garam masala powder, ¼ tsp. cardamom powder, 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro, 10-12 finely chopped mint leaves, 1 tsp. turmeric powder, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 2 tbsp. roasted onions) Mix well and evenly spread it on the bottom of high pot that is large in diameter.
vegetable biryani mixture with jackfruit

By now the water should be boiling and you can add the 1.5 cups of white basmati rice. Stir well and let it cook on high heat for exactly 5 minutes (this time is perfect for white basmati rice, other rice might take longer) The rice should be about half to 3/4 done. 

In the time that the rice is cooking, I like to prepare the ingredients I will need for sprinkling. Finely chop around 2 tbsp. of cilantro and 6-8 mint leaves. Set those aside together with the cardamom and garam masala powder and your roasted onions (I take organic roasted onions from the package, lazy me! 😀 ).

After 5 minutes, turn off the flame and take the pot off the stove. Quickly remove any big pieces of spice floating on top of the water with the help of a fork. Strain the rice and check for any leftover spices that hide in the rice (cinnamon and cloves love to do that) and remove them as well. The cumin seeds remain in the rice. They are helping you to digest this huge amount of rice 😉

spiced cumin rice


Now proceed like you would with a Lasagna. Spread half of the cooked rice evenly over the jackfruit mixture. Then sprinkle 1/2 tsp cardamom powder, 1 tsp. garam masala, 1 tbsp. cilantro, half of the mint leaves, 2 tbsp. roasted onions and half of the saffron water (including saffron strands) as evenly as possible over the rice. 

vegetable biryani with jackfruit
Repeat this process by spreading the remaining rice and then sprinkling the remaining “sprinkle-ingredients” on top of the rice. Add another 100 ml to the empty saffron water bowl in the end and also distribute that all over the dish. This step is important to keep the ingredients moist while cooking and you won’t waste any leftover bits of saffron in there, it’s quite an expensive spice after all!

vegetable biryani with jackfruit

Now cover the pot and start by cooking it for 5 minutes on high-medium heat (6), then 5 minutes on low-medium heat (5) and then 15 minutes on low heat (4) (given your heat ranges from 1-9). The jackfruit mixture will become slightly burned this way, which I love, because it enhances the flavors. If you don’t want that or if food easily burns in the pot you use, then cook in on low heat from the start. The overall cooking time should be 25 minutes. 

vegetable biryani with jackfruit

Serve the Jackfruit Biryani by either always taking a portion with all the layers or just mix it up right from the start.  

This serves 3 people easily. It can also be divided into 4 but won’t be enough unless you also have an appetizer and desert or any other dish. And if you are really hungry and generally eat big amounts, then this might even be finished by just two people! I know I can eat half of this without a problem 😀

Vegan Jackfruit Biryani
Serves 3
A delicious vegan Biryani that is in no way inferior to the famous Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani.
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For the marination
  1. 1 can green jackfruit
  2. 65ml soy yoghurt
  3. ¼ tsp. chili powder
  4. ½ tsp. garam masala powder
  5. 20g minced ginger
  6. 20g minced garlic
  7. 1 tsp. salt
  8. ½ tbsp. olive oil
For the rice
  1. 1.5 cups white basmati rice
  2. 3 black cardamom
  3. 6 green cardamom
  4. 6 cloves
  5. 3 bay leaves
  6. 1 inch cinnamon stick
  7. 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  8. 1 tsp. salt
For the Biryani
  1. ¼ tsp. chilli
  2. 1 tsp. salt
  3. 1 cup soy yoghurt
  4. 1 tsp. garam masala powder
  5. ¼ tsp. cardamom powder
  6. 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  7. 10-12 finely chopped mint leaves
  8. 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  9. 1 tsp. lemon juice
  10. roasted onions to taste
To sprinkle at the end
  1. 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  2. 6-8 finely chopped mint leaves
  3. 4 tbsp. roasted onions
  4. 1 tsp. cardamom powder
  5. 2 tsp. garam masala powder
  6. a few saffron strands soaked in 100 ml of water
Marinate the jackfruit
  1. At least 4 hours or the night before, mix all the ingredients for the marination together.
  2. Open the can of jackfruit and drain the liquid.
  3. Cut the jackfruit into small pieces and mix it well with the marination.
  4. Cover with plastic foil and keep in the fridge.
Cook the rice
  1. Fill a pot with water and add all the spices for the rice, then bring the water to a boil.
  2. When the water is boiling (bubbles coming up) add the rice and stir well.
  3. Cook the rice on medium to high heat for exactly 5 minutes or until half - three quarter done.
  4. Turn off the flame and take the pot off the stove.
  5. Quickly remove any big pieces of spice floating on top of the water.
  6. Strain the rice and check for any leftover spices and remove them with the help of a fork (the cumin seeds remain in the rice).
  1. Take a few saffron strands and mix them with 100 ml of water. Set aside for later.
  2. Transfer the marinated jackfruit from the fridge to a big pot. Add in all the ingredients for the biryani, mix well and spread evenly on the bottom of the pot.
  3. Spread half of the cooked rice evenly over the jackfruit mixture.
  4. Then evenly add half of each of the sprinkle-on ingredients. Repeat this process by adding the rest of the rice and the second half of the sprinkle-on ingredients.
  5. In the end, spread another 100 ml of water over the dish.
  6. Cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes on high-medium heat (6), then 5 minutes on low-medium heat (5) and then 15 minutes on low heat (4). (given your heat ranges from 1-9)
  7. Serve immediately. Always serve all the layers evenly, bottom to top, or mix it all up.
Adapted from Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi
Adapted from Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi

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