Spicy, tender, succulent, and flavorful jackfruit curry is a must-have when dining in a Padang restaurant. Now you can make this delicious curry in your kitchen with my recipe.
Indonesia is a multi-ethnic country with a wide variety of cuisines. One of the most popular cuisines in Indonesia is Padang cuisine. Unlike many other cuisines, Padang cuisine is widespread across the country. It is almost impossible not to see a Padang restaurant in any neighborhood. Understandably, most Indonesians’ favorite food will involve a Padang dish or two.
Some of the more popular Padang cuisine dishes include: rendang, telur balado, terong balado, ayam pop, ayam bakar, gulai ayam, gulai daun singkong, gulai nangka, and sambal cabe ijo. The official list of dishes is much longer. You can eat only Padang cuisine every lunch and dinner for a week or two before the need for any repeat.
For me, Gulai Nangka is one of the must-haves whenever I visit a Padang restaurant. Among the many Indonesian jackfruit dishes, Padang jackfruit curry is my favorite.
Let me share my recipe to make a Padang restaurant Gulai Nangka (jackfruit curry). The ingredients will be long, but it is easy to cook this curry at home. For Padang food lovers, I promise you will love this recipe.
Ingredients for Gulai Nangka (Indonesian jackfruit curry)
- young jackfruit
- coconut milk
- shallot (or onion)
- red chilies
- star anise
- cardamom pods
- kaffir lime leaves
- daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves)
- turmeric powder
- palm sugar
Young jackfruit (canned vs. fresh)
I usually buy canned young jackfruit since it is not common to find fresh jackfruits in the US. It is also more convenient to use canned jackfruits since they are ready to cook once drained.
If you want to use fresh jackfruit, select a green unripe jackfruit. The ripe fruit is not for cooking, but you can enjoy the ripe yellow fruits if you choose the wrong one.
For those living in Indonesia or other countries where the markets sell fresh young jackfruits, you can usually buy a portion of the fruit and not the whole fruit. Jackfruit is quite a large fruit, so there is a tacit understanding that most people will not buy a whole fruit.
Handling fresh jackfruit is tricky since it is very sappy and sticky. Please oil your blade with each cut, or it will be difficult to clean it later. If you buy it fresh from a traditional market, you can request the seller to cut the jackfruit, saving you from doing this chore yourself.
Finally, you will need to boil fresh young jackfruit in a pot of water for one hour before they are ready to be used in this recipe.
How to cook Gulai Nangka (Indonesian jackfruit curry)
1. Prepare spice paste
Puree onion/shallot, garlic, red chilies, candlenuts, ginger, and galangal into a smooth paste.
TIPS: If the paste remains chunky, add 1-2 tablespoons of water, and puree again.
2. Make tamarind paste/juice
Mix tamarind with three tablespoons of warm water. Massage with hands until the mixture is dark brown and thick. Strain to remove all the seeds and pulps to get tamarind paste/juice.
3. Cook the curry
Heat oil in a pot over medium heat and sauté spice paste, star anise, cardamom pods, turmeric powder, Indonesian bay leaves, and kaffir lime leaves until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add the young jackfruit and mix well.
Add coconut milk, water, tamarind, salt, and palm sugar. Once it boils, lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours or until the jackfruit is soft.
Adjust salt and sugar as needed. Turn off the heat and serve immediately.
How to eat in a Padang restaurant
There is an unwritten rule to what one should do when visiting a Padang restaurant for a sit-down meal.
First, you walk into the restaurant and scan for empty tables. If you spot one, walk to it and take a sit.
Soon, a waiter will bring you a serving of steamed white rice along with approximately a dozen dishes, each dish enough to feed one to two persons. It is similar to a dim-sum experience but with Padang cuisine flair.
Tea is usually the norm, but you can ask for other drinks like bottled water, coffee, or soft drinks.
Partake only the dishes you want to eat unless you are willing to pay for everything. It is best to set aside the plates/bowls you don’t want to eat or ask the server to take those away from the table.
If there is a particular dish you want, you can ask for it specifically from the server. You can also walk to the counter with a mountain of different dishes, each one looking more delicious than the next. Select the ones you want and request to be sent to your table.
After you finish your meal, signal a server for the bill. Make the payment and be on your merry way with a full belly.
Other Padang cuisine recipes to try
If you love this jackfruit curry and want to give other Padang cuisine dishes a try, you may want to try my other Padang recipes:
1. Padang meat dishes
2. Padang vegetable dishes
3. Padang egg dishes
4. Padang noodle dishes
5. Padang chili relish
Gulai Nangka - Jackfruit Curry
- 560 gram young jackfruit, cut into bite size pieces (Note 1)
- 4 tablespoon oil
- 1 star anise
- 3 cardamom pods, crushed
- 2 Indonesian bay leaves (Indonesian: daun salam)
- 2 kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk), remove the ribs
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
- 800 ml water
- 10 gram tamarind (Note 2)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon palm sugar
- Spice paste (grind the following ingredients)
- 10-20 red chilies (Note 3)
- 100 gram shallot/onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 candlenuts (Indonesian: kemiri) (Note 4)
- 1 inch ginger (Indonesian: jahe)
- 1 inch galangal (Indonesian: lengkuas)
- Heat oil in a pot over medium heat and sauté spice paste, star anise, cardamom pods, turmeric powder, Indonesian bay leaves, and kaffir lime leaves until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Add the young jackfruit and mix well.
- Mix wet tamarind with three tablespoons of water, massage with hands, and strain to get a thick tamarind juice/paste.
- Add coconut milk, water, tamarind, salt, and palm sugar. Once it boils, lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours or until the jackfruit is soft.
- Adjust salt and sugar as needed. Turn off the heat and serve immediately.
- (1) I use 2 cans of young jackfruit totaling 560 grams.
- (2) Can be substituted with 2 pieces of asam kandis or asam gelugur.
- (3) I am using dried red chilies, but you can use fresh ones too such as Fresno, cayenne, or bird-eye chilies. When using dried chilies, soak the chilies in hot water to soften before using them.
- (4) Can be substituted with an equal amount of macadamia nuts.