Spice, sweetness, tang, texture, freshness…the gang’s all here in this Indian-inspired dinner!
Sweet And Spicy Pork Loin With Minty Greens, Giant Cous Cous And Goat Cheese
I was out in Edinburgh the other day thinking of something to eat for lunch when I realized I was right near Khushi’s, Edinburgh’s self-proclaimed first Indian restaurant, which has been here since 1947. I decided there’s no better time for a large, heavy, spicy bowl of meat than smack dab in the middle of the afternoon, so I went in and got a table for one.
My meal was excellent, and it’s no wonder this place is booked every Friday through Sunday – the staff is friendly, and the food is flavorful, colorful and unexpected in all of the brilliant ways that Indian food should be. For example, as an appetizer (I mean, if you’ve decided to eat a massive curry feast at 2 PM by your damn self, you might as well really commit) I ordered the aloo and chana chat, which is a cold dish of potatoes and chickpeas with mint and spices. It was wonderful, and it provided me with inspiration for my own weekday meal.
I decided that I would take the flavors and textures of that one dish – spice, herbs, mint, creamy yogurt, a slight sweetness – and incorporate them throughout a meal of breaded pork loin, giant cous cous and a salad. The pork got the sweet and spicy treatment with some cayenne and cinnamon, the salad helped out in the minty cool department, and the cous cous provided the creaminess and also a vessel for some spiced chickpeas, which I tossed in cayenne before incorporating into the cous cous. I finished everything off with some sweet, tangy pomegranate seeds, fresh pomegranate juice, and goat cheese for extra creaminess to mimic the inclusion of plain yogurt in the aloo and chana chat, and I was not disappointed with the results. The meal is far from being ‘Indian,’ per se, but the flavors and textures work so well together and I love that the inspiration was a small, almost nondescript appetizer at my local Indian restaurant. Here’s how I got it all together:
For the pork:
4 cuts of boneless, skinless pork loin
approx. 1 tsp each of cayenne, cinnamon, salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup white flour
approx 2-3 tbsp olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of a pan or skillet) and 1 tbsp butter
For the minty salad:
1 bag spring mix
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves (this is the post-chop measurement)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
dash, salt and pepper
For the cous cous:
1 cup giant cous cous, dry
2 cups water
1 tbsp shredded or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup chickpeas (from a can, rinsed)
1 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper, to taste
For the garnish:
The seeds of 1 pomegranate
The juice of 1 pomegranate
Fresh whole mint leaves
Chopped spring onions and radishes
Freshly crumbled plain goat cheese
For the pork, spread each cut of loin in cayenne and cinnamon, distributing the spices evenly among all 4 cuts. The meat should be well-covered with the spices, so if your cuts are larger, you might need more cayenne and cinnamon than what I used. Heat a few tbsps of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Dredge the meat alternately in the flour, then the eggs, then the flour again, and add them to the hot pan. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, or until the crust is golden brown and the meat is cooked through.
Meanwhile, add the cous cous and water to a pot and bring the contents to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, and cook until all of the water has been absorbed. Stir in the salt, pepper and cheese (the cheese is what makes it creamy and slightly nutty…delicious). In a colander or large bowl, coat the chickpeas in the cayenne and then add them to the cous cous. Stir to combine.
Prepare the salad by combining the wet ingredients in the bottom of a bowl to make a vinaigrette and then toss the lettuce and mint in the vinaigrette.
Serve with a garnish of pomegranate seeds, pomegranate juice, radishes, green onions, goat cheese and fresh mint.