Saturday, February 16, 2008

Memories can come alive

Since returning from my expedition through the southern portion of India where I ate a pork stew I have been thinking –how will I replicate that dish. I wish I were in the kitchen when the cook was putting it together for then I would have taken copious notes as a souvenir. Alas, I was not, instead I was touring around nibbling on fresh peppercorns, cardamom pods and ripening coffee berries, or perhaps it is the afternoon I went out trying to spot wild elephants. Fortunately, I know what the kitchen pantry contained and felt confident enough with my ability to extract the flavors in the dish.

The memory of the stew is still alive on my palate, and the time has arrived to release from its imaginary recipe card file and put it in permanent ink. So, on this long President’s weekend I set out to re-visit that moment.

Coorg Inspired Pork Stew – yields 6 servings

3 pounds pork shoulder – trimmed of excess fat and cubed
2 onions (approx. 1-1/4 ponds)
6 garlic cloves
2-inch piece ginger – peeled
10 to 14 curry leaves
1-teaspoon fenugreek seed
2-teaspoons coriander seed
2-teaspons whole black pepper
1 bunch cilantro (leaves and stems)
3 whole cloves
1-teaspoon turmeric
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-tablespoon canola oil
1-1/2 cups water

Pre heat the onion to 375 degrees.
Place the onions on a roasting pan, and cook the whole, unpeeled onion for about 45 minutes. It will be softened, and caramelized when done. Allow the onion to cool completely then peeled away the skin.

Placed the peeled onion, garlic, ginger, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, black pepper, cilantro, cloves, turmeric and salt in a blender or food processor, and mix to make a smooth paste. Make sure the spices have ground down.

Heat a 6-quart pot over a high flame and add the oil and about a quarter of the pork chunks. Brown the pork on all sides, and then transfer to a clean bowl to hold. Continue with the remaining pork till all of it is browned. Carefully, drain off the excess fat.

Return the pork to the pan along with the onion puree. Cook the mixture for a few minutes stirring constantly. Pour over the water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook the pork for 2 to 3 hours. Check the stew every so often to make for it is not drying out, if so add some additional water, or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Correct seasoning and serve over rice.

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