Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pork Ribs with Indian pickle and South Indian spices

This is a dish that has not been a disappointment in the 4 or 5 times that I have cooked it.  I get pork ribs,  preferably of the baby back variety.  The marinade features an Indian pickle that I pick up from Bhavik’s Indian grocery—a garlic pickle in olive oil.  The past few years, health consciousness has made olive oil based pickles more common and you should find this in any decent Indian grocery.  I really like the garlic one, but any other pickle will do—do not compromise, however, on the olive oil base—it makes a difference.  Pour a generous dollop (about 3 tablespoons for 2 ribs) of this pickle and add to this a medley of South Indian spices—the star of which is the “Milagai Podi” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milagai_podi), a wicked combo of ground lentils, chilli and sesame seeds: if you have eaten at a South Indian restaurant you may recognize it as the condiment that is served in a little fingerbowl seeped in oil.  Add some other spices—ground cumin, coriander, and some coarse sea salt.  Mix it all up so that the marinade reaches a pasty consistency—it should not be too “wet”.  I also like to add to this some vinegar or lemon juice (a couple of teaspoons)—the acid is supposed to reduce the formation of carcinogenic compounds in charred meats, in case you get any charring.  Get the pork ribs out of their plastic covering and rub liberally with the marinade.  Its good to leave it on for a while, but I usually don’t have time for this.  I cook this in the oven set at around 350 C.  Convection roast is the setting that I prefer.  The key is to cook this for a long time—my ribs stay for about 90 mins, with a turn at the hour.  You could drop the temperature a bit and go even longer on the cooking.  The pickle and the garlic gives a nice, toasty taste and the meat falls off the bone.  The spices used, strictly speaking, were developed for vegetarian food and not pork, but sometimes you can get surprising results by bringing a knife to a gun battle.

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