Mexican or Indian?


What have we here? A Mexican dish that looks like Indian food? Or an Indian dish that resembles Mexican cuisine? I think neither. How about Mexican Indian fusion? Cilantro, cumin, coriander, chilies, rice. It's too difficult to distinguish. I started this dish out thinking I was making some kind of adobo pork with cilantro rice. A Mexican theme. But when we dished up and starting eating, I was hard pressed to call it Mexican. Had we wrapped it up in a tortilla or served it with some fresh salsa, it would have been easier. But here we enjoyed our pork and rice like you would in an Indian restaurant (an American Indian restaurant at least).

Regardless of how you classify what we have here, I can tell you it was delicious. Really, really delicious. I hope I can convince some of you to try cooking with dried chilies. So much flavor, so simple. I myself only started cooking with the about a year ago. What an amazing difference it makes to any dish.

Red Chili Carne with Rice

For the pork:
1 1/4 lb pork tenderloin (or shoulder)
2 dried Ancho chilies
3 dried New Mexico chilies
1 head garlic (whole, 1/4 in trimmed from top)
6 cloves garlic (rough chop)
1 large yellow onion (rough chop)
2 vine ripened tomatoes (diced)
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
3 cups boiling water
olive oil
salt and pepper

Get your meat started before the rice. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap your whole garlic head, minus 1/4 inch of the top, in a foil packet. Drizzle some olive oil in and close almost completely, with a little opening at the top. Pop into the oven for about 40 minutes.Remove and let cool. Squeeze the sweet garlic out and set aside for the meat.

To begin preparing the chili peppers, heat a saute pan over high heat. Add the Ancho and New Mexico chilies to the pan and toast until the skin is charred and bubbled, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and give a rough chop. Place in a bowl and cover with 3 cups boiling water. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel.

In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, coriander, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, until onions soften. Add chopped garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Add chilies and their liquid, salt and pepper to the food processor and pulse until smooth.

Head the dutch oven over high heat. Add olive oil, pork, and some additional spices (same mix as before), and brown pork on each side, about 7 minutes. Pour the chili mixture over the pork. Add tomatoes, roasted garlic paste, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and let cook for 1.5 hours. The sauce will thicken up quite a bit, and the pork will be melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Don't serve without the fantastic rice recipe below.

Cilantro Brown Rice

1 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp butter + 2 tbsp butter
1 jalapeno (seeds removed and diced)
1 handful cilantro (rough chop)
salt and pepper

Combine rice, chicken broth and 2 tbsp butter in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 50 minutes, or until rice is cooked through.

In a separate saute pan, heat additional 2 tbsp butter over low heat, and add jalapenos. Cook until jalapeno is infused in the butter, about 5 minutes.

Remove rice from heat and fluff with a fork. Add jalapeno butter, cilantro, salt and pepper. Combine and serve with pork.

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