This incredibly delicious Indian-inspired Jackfruit Curry is guaranteed to become a new dinner favorite!
Featuring warming Indian spices, jackfruit, greens, and sweet potatoes, it’s a complete dinner made with wholesome ingredients (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and even Paleo). Despite being nutrient-rich, it feels indulgent thanks to the coconut milk and sweet potatoes, which practically melt into the curry and naturally thicken it.
It’s really easy to make (even easier if you make the Instant Pot version). The leftovers are wonderful and it freezes great, making it a great option for meal prep.
What is jackfruit and how do you use it?
Jackfruit is a fruit that grows on trees in tropical climates (South Asia and Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Africa, and a few other places). It’s the largest tree-borne fruit in the world (it’s enormo) and has a spiky green exterior and a spongy, plump pale yellow interior. Jackfruit is a great source of Vitamin C and B6, as well as potassium.
Jackfruit is often prepared more like a vegetable than like a fruit, and it has the remarkable ability to mimic meat. Yes, MEAT!
When you shred the flesh of jackfruit, it looks and feels just like shredded pork (or chicken). And because it’s quite neutral in taste, jackfruit really takes on the flavors of the ingredients in which it’s cooked (e.g., marinate jackfruit in ancho chiles = ancho chili jackfruit that reminds you of ancho chili chicken; coat jackfruit in BBQ sauce = BBQ jackfruit that reminds you of BBQ pork).
Tip: Buy jackfruit that’s canned in water or brine, not sugary syrup (and not pre-seasoned jackfruit). It’s often labeled “young” or “green” jackfruit. Canned jackfruit is pre-cut into little triangles, and you can easily shred them apart using your fingers or forks (I find the former method to be easier).
Note: These instructions are for the Instant Pot method (my preference, since it’s more hands off), but there are stovetop instructions in the recipe card below.
Gather your ingredients!
Heat up the coconut oil in your Instant Pot on the Sauté mode, and once hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds for 45 seconds, tossing. Add the onions and cook 5-6 minutes to soften.
Add the garlic, ginger, and serrano pepper; stir frequently for 90 seconds. Add the ground spices, curry leaves, and salt and cook for for 30 seconds; stir frequently.
Pour in the water to deglaze the pot, scraping up the browned bits. Pour in the coconut milk and scrape up any remaining browned bits.
Add the shredded jackfruit and cubed sweet potatoes. Stir well, seal the Instant Pot, and pressure cook (high pressure) for 6 minutes. Allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes.
Stir in the tomato sauce and baby kale/spinach. Turn on the Sauté mode and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until greens are wilted.
Stir in lemon juice and cilantro, and season to taste with salt/pepper. Serve jackfruit curry with rice or flatbread.
Tips for making this Jackfruit Curry
Buy canned jackfruit in water or brine, not sugary syrup (and not pre-seasoned jackfruit often sold in packs or cartons).
Don’t have an Instant Pot and making the stovetop version? There are minor variations between the two methods, so be sure to read the Ingredient list and directions closely.
Also, keep in mind, that the sweet potatoes don’t break down as much in the stovetop version, so you’ll have more distinct pieces rather than sweet potato melting into the background. If you want to thicken it, you can use a potato masher or immersion blender to blend some of the curry. Or transfer, 1/4 to 1/3 of the curry to a stand blender and blend until creamy; stir back into the remaining curry.
When using the Instant Pot, be sure to thoroughly deglaze the pot with the water and scrape up any browned bits. Doing so prevents the Instant Pot burn sensor from getting triggered.
When using the Instant Pot, you’ll notice that the tomato sauce is added after the curry is pressure cooked. That’s because thick, viscous sauces, especially tomato-based ones, tend to burn in the Instant Pot during pressure cooking, so I wait to add the tomato sauce after the curry is done pressure cooking.
Substitutes for this recipe
While I do LOVE sweet potatoes in this jackfruit curry, you could also use butternut squash or another winter squash if you prefer. The curry won’t have the natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes, however. To balance the spicy and sour flavors, then, you’ll want to stir in a tablespoon of sweetener before pressure cooking (organic cane sugar, coconut sugar, agave nectar, etc.).
Don’t have black mustard seeds? You can sub brown mustard seeds.
You should be able to find most of the spices used in this recipe at well-stocked grocery stores, but if you’re having trouble, you can always find them in Indian grocery stores or on Amazon. And if you’re really in a pinch, it’s okay to omit one or two of the spices. The curry will still come out delicious! If
I like using baby kale, but any kind of soft baby greens will work, including baby spinach. You can also use as much as you like.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can purchase canned jackfruit at Asian markets, online, and well-stocked grocery stores. I love buying the 20-ounce cans from Trader Joe’s. Whole Foods also sells canned jackfruit, though usually in 14-ounce cans. If using 14-ounce cans, use 3 cans instead of too.
Fresh jackfruit isn’t widely available in the U.S., though you can find it at Asian grocery stores. It’s very heavy and time-consuming to prepare, so I opt for canned jackfruit.
You can find fresh and dried curry leaves at Indian grocery stores, or dried curry leaves online (affiliate link). I use dried curry leaves since they’re shelf-stable. If using fresh, use half the amount.
Unfortunately, there’s no real substitute for curry leaves, as the flavor is very unique (citrusy, aromatic, herbal, pungent, slightly bitter). You could add a teaspoon of Madras curry powder, though it won’t have the same flavor.
Once cooled, store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 to 6 days. You can freeze this curry for 3 to 6 months. I prefer to freeze it in single-serve portions using my Souper Cubes (affiliate link). Then you can defrost an individual block of curry on the stove in less than 10 minutes. No-fuss, healthy dinner even on the busiest of weeknights!
In a saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally (lower the heat as needed, if it bubbles up). Or, you can reheat in the microwave until heated through. The curry will thicken as it rests, so you may want to add a bit of water while reheating to thin it out to your desired consistency.
Sure! You could swap a can of chickpeas for a half can or full can of jackfruit. Same cooking instructions apply, since the chickpeas are already cooked.
The easiest option is to whip up a batch of white rice (or brown rice) and serve together. If you have more time, it’s incredible with my Homemade Naan (whole wheat version pictured here), or any store-bought flatbread would be fine.
If you love this Jackfruit Curry, please leave a rating and review down below. And don’t forget to tag me on Instagram with your recreations!
- 2 (20-ounce // 565g) cans of jackfruit (in water or brine)*
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or oil of choice)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black mustard seeds (can substitute brown mustard seeds)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2- inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
- 1 serrano pepper, diced**
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
- 1 teaspoon Indian red chili powder***
- 6 to 8 dried curry leaves (or 3 to 4 fresh curry leaves)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (180 mL) water (use 1 cup (240 mL) water for stovetop version)
- 1 (13.5-ounce / 400 mL) can full-fat coconut milk
- 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 6-8 ounces each), peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes (diced into 1/2-inch cubes for stovetop version)
- 1 8-ounce (225g) can tomato sauce
- 4-5 cups (60-75g) baby kale or baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or lime juice
- 1/2 cup (8g) fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
- For serving: White Basmati rice or flatbread
- Drain the jackfruit and rinse well (to get off all the brine/salt). Use your hands to shred the jackfruit so it resembles pulled pork. Discard any tough cores that can't be easily shredded.
Instant Pot Directions
- Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot. After a few minutes, add the oil to heat up. Once the Instant Pot displays reads “HOT,” add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and fry for 45 seconds, tossing frequently, until they begin to pop and are very aromatic.
- Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and pepper, and cook for 90 seconds, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Add the ground spices (turmeric, garam masala, coriander, paprika, and chili powder), curry leaves, and the 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Stir to coat and cook for 30 seconds, stirring to combine. Pour in 3/4 cup (180 mL) water to deglaze, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Pour in the coconut milk, and scrape up any remaining browned bits. Add the shredded jackfruit and chopped sweet potatoes. Stir to combine and select Cancel.
- Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook setting at high pressure and set the cook time to 6 minutes.
- Once the timer has completed, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes and then switch the Pressure Release knob from Sealing to Venting to release any remaining steam.
- Open the pot and add the tomato sauce and spinach, and stir to incorporate. Select the Sauté setting, bring the curry to a boil, and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro and season to taste with salt/pepper as needed.
- Serve with white basmati rice or flatbread. Note: the curry will thicken as it rests in the fridge.
- Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and fry for 45-60 seconds, tossing frequently, until they begin to pop and are are very aromatic.
- Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Add the ground spices (turmeric, garam masala, coriander, paprika, and chili powder), curry leaves, and the 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Stir to coat and cook for 30 seconds, stirring to combine. Pour in 1/2 (120 mL) cup water to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits.
- Add the shredded jackfruit and chopped sweet potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent sticking.
- Pour in the 1 cup (240 mL) water, coconut milk, and tomato sauce, and stir to coat. Bring to a simmer and then cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and thickened slightly and the sweet potatoes are very tender. Note: If you want the curry to be even thicker, use an immersion blender or potato masher to mash some but not all of the mixture to thicken. Or, transfer 1/4 to 1/3 of the curry to a stand blender and blend until creamy, then stir back into the pot.
- Add the greens to the curry and cook until wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt/pepper as needed.