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Short Ribs in a Cinnamon and Red Wine Sauce: An East Indian take on a North American Classic

Short Ribs in a Cinnamon and Red Wine Sauce: An East Indian take on a North American Classic
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A Fusion between Indian-inflected Spices and Great Canadian Beef

          This was one of the first posts I published back in 2010 when I started to blog.  Because my readership was nowhere near what it is now, I should not have been as surprised as I was to see that it never really attracted a big audience. That struck me as a shame because it is a spectacularly interesting take by a master of Indian cooking who invented one of the most unique cooking styles anywhere–a fusion between Indian-inflected spices and great Canadian ingredients–in this case the country’s phenomenal grass-fed beef.  As to its seasonality, I say it would be as good in July as it would be in January.  After all, it’s a variation on that summer staple–Ribs.  What makes it a particularly attractive take on Ribs is that it doesn’t require firing up a grill. Instead, it cooks away in the oven for hours.   So here is a reprise of something awfully good that I hope will get the attention it deserves.

If you’ve had any luck in life, you’ve had the good fortune to visit Vancouver, British Columbia.

It’s a city that’s got it all. They say in winter you can sail and ski on the same day. Surrounded by water and a little over an hour from the slopes at Whistler, that sounds highly possible. Yes, it has that Pacific Northwest climate with a few more rainy days than I’d find ideal, but it’s blessedly warmer than the rest of Canada in winter and temperate all summer. And Vancouver is a foodie’s delight. In fact, Mimi Sheraton thinks the best Asian cuisine in North America is found there. I’d add that the best South Asian food in Vancouver is served at Vij’s, a no-reservation restaurant at 1480 West 11th Street in the South Granville area of the city. And I wouldn’t be alone.

The New York Times called Vij’s “Easily among the finest Indian restaurants in the world.”

 Vikram Vij arrived in Vancouver in 1993. What he has done is employ the very best Canadian ingredients with Indian cooking techniques and a deft hand with signature Indian spice combinations. This is truly locavore cooking and the crowds that line up to open the place at 5:30 pm wind all the way up the street by 6 o’clock. They’re drawn to the phenomenal food—things like Lamb Lollipops and Local Pork Belly with Apple Chutney, the latter priced by the spoon!

Granville Island and beyond South Granville, home to Vij’s Restaurant

One of the most intriguing combinations– something that absolutely would never find its way onto an Indian menu anywhere near India is Vij’s recipe for Short Ribs in Cinnamon and Red Wine Sauce. This combination boosts the richness of the beef into the stratosphere and the play of Indian spices adds to the warmth and depth of flavor of the dish. Like all braises, it’s a breeze to cook and requires little tending, and once you’ve done the mise-en-place, your work is basically done until the beef is beyond tender and you reduce the sauce to a hearty consistency. While I realize this may sound like a cold-weather dish, it’s really a short rib classic that you can serve any time of the year to oohs and aahs. It’s also hardly a weeknight dinner dish but I wanted to share it with you in advance of any weekend plans for this week.

To no regular reader’s surprise, I got my ribs at Costco.

They were boneless and excellent although Vij’s recipe calls for the more readily available bone-in short ribs. I don’t think you’ll have any problem finding the spices, they are pretty widely available. As to the ghee, if you have a South Asian market near you, you’ll find it there. And wonder of wonders, Trader Joe’s now sells ghee.  If you’re any kind of a dedicated home cook, you can use ghee as a substitute whenever clarified butter is called for in a recipe.  So it’s a great thing to have in your pantry and has a shelf life of…forever.  But I wouldn’t get crazy if I just used regular unsalted butter. So here it is:

5 thoughts on “Short Ribs in a Cinnamon and Red Wine Sauce: An East Indian take on a North American Classic”

  • I feel like Julie & Julia! I made the short ribs and have to say it was fantastic! I followed everything you told me to do cooked it the night before and served it the next. I wasn't sure that I or my family was going to like the Indian proflie but it was really delicious.
    I do have a comment however. There are some directions that are just not intuitive. When you say "let the fat rise to top top" You don't say skim it off. It would help the novice cooks out there to be specific.
    Looking forward to the next receipe.

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