Saturday, March 17, 2018

Recipe : Wak Serjak - Pork Stew from Tripura - North East India


My red meat of choice is pork. I grew up eating pork on Sundays. My grandmother was an amazing cook and made the most delicious pork dishes. Manglorean style pork is heavy though and very conducive to Sunday afternoon naps. So not really dishes for mid-week. and we keep our dinners light as far as possible.

So it was a fantastic revelation for me, when we lived in Guwahati in 2011, to discover a multitude of pork dishes that were super tasty and yet very easy to prepare (no heavy grinding of masalas) and super light on the tummy. As light as eating chicken.

A lot of pork dishes in Assam, are cooked with local herbs which are difficult to find outside of the state. My friend Sanjukta is a great resource for local recipes and her blog is an excellent starting point.

When I lived in Guwahati, there weren't too many local food bloggers, so the first book that I bought for help with local cuisine was Hoihnu Hazel's collaboration with Penguin. This recipe is from that book.

I'm happy to say that in the decade since then, North East Indian food is slowly working itself into public consciousness due to the enterprising passion and commitment of a few foodies like Gitika Saikia in Mumbai and  Sneha Saikia in Delhi.

Wak Serjak in its thinnest form is like a soup, you can however let it simmer for awhile so it gets thicker. And in the Manglorean/Goan fashion of maturing pork, keep reheating leftovers (if you have any) daily, until it becomes a nice thick mass. Its super-delicious at every stage.

Ingredients:
2 kg pork (I like a good balance of meat and fat and bones - here I buy pork belly and ribs seperately to add to the mix)
2 tsp oil
4 tbsp ginger paste
6-8 green chillies chopped
4 medium onions chopped
6 medium tomatoes chopped
salt to taste

Method:
Wash and drain pork. Cut into bite sized pieces.

Heat oil in a deep pot and add ginger, green chillies, onions and tomatoes, fry till golden brown.

Add pork and stir-fry for awhile until pork is cooked. I tend to cook the fat and bones first so the fat breaks down, before adding the meat.

Add salt and 4 cups water. Then cover and leave to simmer for awhile (use less water if you want a thicker gravy.

Adjust salt and fresh chillies to taste.

Serve hot with cooked rice.

Optional garnish - freshly shopped corriander leaves for a fresh herby taste.


Note:
Optional - since the tomatoes here in the UK, don't have any tartness, I added the juice of one lemon - to taste.

I found Bergamot lemons in the market last week and as an Earl Grey aficionado, I had to bring them home. In the North East of India, the tomatoes are tart enough that you don’t need to add any thing citric. But here I added the juice of a whole bergamot to 2 kilos of meat.

The essential fragrance of the bergamot was lost in the cooking, so it tasted like any other lemon in the mix.

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