The Jackfruit Sloppy Joe introduced to the Kumbuk Kitchen menu earlier this year has won hearts far and wide with its delectable flavours and adaptability to almost any palate. The young jackfruit or polos as we know it got a facelift with this new dish that enjoyed a brief cameo at Café Kumbuk as well. An ideal meat substitute for vegan and vegetarian diets, Jackfruit is loaded with nutrients, minerals and vitamins; amma (mother) certainly approves!
The jackfruit at its different stages is used for a variety of sweet and savoury dishes in Sri Lankan cuisine. Young jackfruit (polos) is prepared in thick, dark gravy accompanied by steamed rice, a good dhal curry and a greens mix. Ripe jackfruit (kos) is cooked in coconut cream to a thick consistency and enjoyed with dried fish and rice. The seeds of the ripe jackfruit are also toasted and tossed with coconut and jaggery to make a local version of protein balls that are enjoyed by the young and old alike. Slightly overripe jackfruit (varaka) has a sweet, tropical flavor that is enjoyed on its own as a snack or after a meal. With easy access to a fruit that is so versatile, we couldn’t resist giving it our own Kumbuk twist!
To make KK’s Sloppy Joe, young jackfruit is par boiled with local spices, seeded and pulled just like you would meat. The pulled jackfruit is then mixed in an Asian inspired BBQ sauce (a combination of tomato, apple juice, pineapple juice, onion and lemongrass) and topped with a generous serving of bell pepper ketchup and gooey cheese! We serve it on a vegan bun so all you gotta do is ask them to hold off on the cheese if you’re vegan.
Among its many health benefits, jackfruit is loaded with essential vitamins (A, C, E, K & B6), minerals (copper, manganese, magnesium), antioxidants and folic acid. This means that jackfruit has the ability to improve blood production, regulate blood glucose, reduce chances of cancer and improve bone health, eyesight and immunity in general. The seeds especially, have the ability to detoxify your system resulting in healthy skin and hair. Another reason jackfruit deserves a dietary medal of honour is because it is one of few fruits that has absolutely no saturated or trans fats (this however, does not mean that it does not have calories or sugar)! It is also super easy to grow in our climate, and thrives, given the right attention and care.
If you’re jackfruit crazed or looking for a good vegan burger, head on over to Kumbuk Kitchen on Reid Avenue (across the road from the Colombo Racecourse) to grab a good one! We’d encourage you to savour fresh Jackfruit as much as possible while you’re here; you won’t be allowed to take it home because fresh jackfruit is banned from airports!
By Ashan Wijesinghe