India's northeastern states are a world apart from the rest of the country. Connected to the subcontinent by a mere thread of land, their kinship with bordering Bhutan, China, and Myanmar is reflected in the cuisine. Cooks rely on ingredients like black sesame paste and salty fermented foods, and pork and bamboo feature prominently. One example is this braised pork belly from cookbook author Jyoti Das, inspired by an Assamese tribal dish. Spiced with Thai chiles, garlic, ginger, and turmeric, it first appeared in our August/September 2014 special India issue with Jyoti Das' story Eating in Tea Country.
- 2 tbsp. mustard or canola oil
- 1 (1 1/2-lb.) piece boneless, skinless pork belly, cut into 1" strips, about ½" thick
- 10 small green Thai chiles or 5 serranos, halved
- 1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
- 1 (2") piece ginger, peeled and mashed into a paste
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground turmeric
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 3⁄4 cup fermented bamboo shoots, minced
Heat oil in a 12" nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook pork belly, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered, 7–9 minutes. Discard all but ¼ cup fat from skillet. Add chiles and onion; cook until golden, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add turmeric, salt, and ½ cup water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until pork is very tender, 35–40 minutes. Stir in bamboo; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes more.