Sometimes a cooking experience is less WOW and more Uh-Oh or Huh? That was the case last night when I tried this pork tikka recipe from my new The Food of India cookbook I’m reading. After posting a site extolling fast-prep Indian food, I thought I might need to get back in the graces of the Indian cooking gods ( which I fear may be many) with a real, authentic Indian dish. Tikka, I have learned, refers to either a cut of meat or a marinade sauce, and this recipe combines both. The cookbook describes it as “Encrusted in spices and mouthwateringly tender on the inside, pork tikka is a popular dish in Punjabi dhabas (roadside restaurants) and street stalls. It is often served with chapatis, roti or naan and chutney.” The marinade is yogurt based, with onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, garam masala and chili powder. With that, I thought why not? I have a container of yogurt I need to finish, naan from the other night, and all the spices already. The marinade is simple, just combine and marinate. The problems came from the cooking process. Don’t get me wrong, the smells from the cooking meat are wonderful, and the end product was tastey, but I never did obtain that beautiful color of the picture above. The recipe calls for heating the oil, and then adding the pork with the marinade and simmering. I did that, but the liquid never seemed to boil off and brown the meat like the picture showed. I ended up removing some of the extra liquid at the end of 20 minutes cooking time to allow the recipe to dry out as the recipe recommends. That just put things on the edge of burning. The meat was cooked, still juice, but only slightly golden. Fearing my special spice sauce would turn to cinders, I called it an evening and dug in. Some nights are like that. John 0 – authentic Indian food 1. You may have better luck with this recipe, it will be tastey regardless of its visual imperfections. And luckily, a lifetime of experimenting and several hundred more pages of this cookbook give plenty of opportunity for future success.
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, diced
3 inch piece of ginger, chopped
½ tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tbsp garam masala
1/4 tsp chili powder
pinch black pepper
1 cup plain yoghurt
1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large red onion, diced
3/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup oil
Prepare the marinade by combining the yellow onion, 3 cloves of garlic, ginger, spices and yoghurt. Mix and add the pork. Put in a ziploc and allow to marinate in the fridge 2 hours or overnight.
Heat oil in a heavy, large fry pan over medium heat. Before the oil starts smoking, add the red onion, 1 clove of garlic and cilantro. Stir and cook a couple of minutes to soften the onions. Increase the heat to high and add the pork with the marinade. Stir for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer the juices away, 15-20 minutes. The meat and the dryish sauce will be a rich, dark brown. To serve, season with salt and sprinkle with a little more garam masala.