Adventures in Food – Cumin Chile Pork Kebabs

On Sunday we had a bit of a culinary adventure for dinner, thanks to the June issue of Food Network Magazine.  For dinner, I made their Cumin Chile Pork Kebab recipe.  This recipe caught my eye about a week ago, and on Saturday I picked up some pork tenderloin and a couple of other ingredients needed to prepare it. 

I started getting nervous when I was blending the paste, because it is only at that moment that I realized that these are Indian flavours.  Why I didn’t clue in to that earlier, seeing how much cumin seeds and ginger the recipe called for I am not sure, but once I smelled the paste, I knew that Indian it was.  I was nervous because I have spent years not liking Indian food.  I first tasted Indian food when I was around 13, and my palate just was not ready for those bold, sophisticated flavours.  I grew up on French-Canadian food that did not use many spices or much seasoning other than salt.  I also don’t like heat in my food. 

I was pretty committed to the meal at that point and realized it would be an adventure for the entire family.  They like spicy food even less than I do, and I really wasn’t sure how they would react to the new and different flavours.  But I kept going and finished preparing the meal, vowing not to tell my family what was in it until after they tried it.     

The outcome?  The family loved it!

grilling recipe pork kebabs

I will toot my own horn here and say that I grilled the meat just perfectly.  It was incredibly tender, so tender it didn’t really require chewing!  And the flavour of the meat was really wonderful.  It was bold, but not overwhelming, with the right amount of heat for us.  These cumin chile pork kebabs are definitely not a run of the mill meal for us.  It was an exotic meal, allowing us to discover new flavours.  I have only discovered cumin in the past two years, and have only used it in small quantities in a couple of recipes.  This recipe is big on the cumin.  So if you like that spice, it would be a great recipe to try.

I did make some modifications to the recipe for us, using a small piece of cubanelle pepper instead of a jalapeño to reduce the heat.  Also, as I did not have any rice vinegar, I used apple cider vinegar for the sauce.  That substitution worked out fine.   

This recipe is a keeper.  It was a bit more involved than I had first realized from reading the recipe, but the effort was worth it.  One thing I didn’t like about the recipe was that it called for a 2 inch piece of ginger.  How much is two inches?  Some ginger is skinny while other pieces of ginger are quite fat.  I would have liked the recipe to also indicate approximately how many tablespoons of ginger two inches equaled.   

I learnt three things by making this recipe: 

  • I do like Indian flavours, provided they are not too hot. 
  • Indian flavours are far more than just hot curry. 
  • And I will always use pork tenderloin when making pork kebabs or souvlaki.  In the past, I have used centre loin chops and they end up being a lot drier and less tender than the tenderloin.  So tenderloin it is for us.

What was your family’s most recent adventure with food?



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