India's 'superfood' jackfruit goes global (substitute meat fashions)


INTRO: Green, spiky and with a strong, sweet smell, the bulky jackfruit has morphed from a backyard nuisance in India's south coast into the meat-substitute darling of vegans and vegetarians in the West. Part of South Asia's diet for centuries, jackfruit was so abundant that tonnes of it went to waste every year.

But now India, the world's biggest producer of jackfruit, is capitalising on its growing popularity as a "superfood" meat alternative—touted by chefs from San Francisco to London and Delhi for its pork-like texture when unripe. "There are a lot of enquiries from abroad... At the international level, the interest in jackfruit has grown manifold," Varghese Tharakkan tells AFP from his orchard in Kerala's Thrissur district.

The fruit, which weighs five kilogrammes (11 pounds) on average, has a waxy yellow flesh when ripe and is eaten fresh, or used to make cakes, juices, ice creams and crisps. When unripe, it is added to curries or fried, minced and sauted. In the West, shredded jackfruit has become a popular alternative to pulled pork and is even used as a pizza topping.

"People love it," Anu Bhambri, who owns a chain of restaurants in the US and India, explains. "The jackfruit tacos have been a hit at each and every location. The jackfruit cutlet—every table orders it, it's one of my favourites!"

James Joseph quit his job as a director at Microsoft after spotting Western interest in jackfruit "gaining momentum as a vegan alternative to meat"... (MORE)

RELATED (video): Jackfruit as a meat substitute? How convincing is it? Taste Test!

Cooked jackfruit taste is like meat?

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