Michael Voltaggio’s Indian-Spiced Short Ribs

Michael Voltaggio’s Indian-Spiced Short Ribs


Something happened to our Sunday dinners this busy season.  They’re usually what I manage to hang on to after watching our weeknight dinners dissipate one by one from thoughtful, healthy salads and planned entrees, to a quick forage through the wilted inhabitants of my veggie bin for something to saute with rice or pasta.  Throw in some garlic and it’s dinner, right?  Hardly, but it can be eaten in a bowl, sometimes as late as 9:30 p.m. while we’re huddled in our dimly lit family room in front of a recorded show and making weary attempts at questioning one another about the day.

It’s no wonder that looking forward to uninterrupted time in the kitchen draws my attention to the weekend where the result is pleasant time together over a meal that is special — read:  is served on a plate at a reasonable hour.  The idea of “special”  seems to be part of a process to me;  a recipe catches my eye and lingers on the periphery of the minutiae that accumulates in my head, and somehow I manage to remember the main ingredient while on one of my less than stellarly organized grocery shopping trips.  The remembered ingredient is then wedged into my freezer, which just might contain the very same ingredient somewhere in its depths, as a reminder that Sunday dinner is a possibility.  Hopefully, this classifies me as an optimist.

Time goes by.  Other ingredients are collected in other stop-after-work trips to the store for the cat food or laundry detergent I forgot on the previous trip, and because those ingredients are often perishable, they become part of a different meal (see above).  It’s a vicious cycle.

Finally, the day arrives as it does each year.  Busy season ends, and glimmers of a normal life surface.  The long-awaited day in the kitchen and meal are planned and the big question looms:  Will it have been  worth the wait?


(And this has nothing to do, of course, with the fact that Chef Voltaggio not only took the time to comment on my effort, but put a shout-out about my speck in the food universe on his site, Voltaggio Brothers in “Food Writing.”)

A gracious and hearty thanks to Michael Voltaggio!

Michael Voltaggio’s Indian-Spiced Short Ribs

1/4 c. coriander seeds
2 T cumin seeds
1 T black peppercorns
1 T ground ginger
1 T ground cardamom
1 T cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 bay leaves, crumbled
2 T canola oil
4 boneless short ribs (10 to 12 ounces each), trimmed of fat
1 lg. sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
3 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 heads of garlic, halved crosswise
2 cups dry red wine
1 quart chicken stock or broth

Preheat the oven to 325° F.


In a cast iron skillet, toast coriander and cumin seeds slowly over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Transfer seeds to a spice grinder and add peppercorns, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, crushed red pepper and bay leaves.   Pulse to a powder and set aside.

In a large casserole pan, heat the oil. Season meat with salt and cook over high heat until browned and crusty on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove to a platter and set aside.

Add onion, carrots and celery to the same pan and cook over medium until softened and lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic and 3 T of the spice mix.  Cook until tomatoes begin to fall apart, about 3 minutes, then add wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Bring to boil and reduce by half.  Add stock and bring to a simmer. Add the browned meat and juices to the vegetable mixture and season with salt. Cover with foil or a lid and place in the oven about 2 hours or until just tender but not falling off the bone.

Remove meat to a baking sheet and pour the rest of the mixture through a strainer into a saucepan. Press against the solids with a spoon to extract more juice before discarding. Boil the liquid over high heat until reduced to 1 cup.

While the sauce is reducing, preheat broiler placing a rack about 6- 8 inches from heat. Brush meat with sauce, then sprinkle lightly with some of the remaining spice mixture.   Broil briefly until sizzling.

Serve short ribs with some of the sauce spooned over.

We enjoyed this recipe with Aloo Gobi, a spicy Indian cauliflower and potato dish flavored with green chilies, cilantro, and turmeric which was also fabulous.


  • This fabulous recipe can be found in the April 2010 issue of Food & Wine and is one created by last season’s winner of Top Chef.  He and his brother Bryan have a great food forum at Voltaggio Brothers.
  • The spice blend is a type of garam masala.  Ingredients for this blend vary from one recipe to another, and I’ve found it’s fun to try a variety.  This one is much different than others I’ve tried as it contains both cinnamon and cardamom.  The cloves are also an addition I’m not used to.  For the spice in my blend, I chopped up half of a red serrano chili, seeds and all.
  • I rarely make a recipe as written but was fairly close with this one because it is so much different than any short rib recipes I’ve tried. I was intrigued from the start.  When I make short ribs, they’re always smaller than what is described in recipes of this nature and a couple make a nice individual serving.  There’s no way to slice anything off of the bone and arrange it as I might another cut of meat that’s been braised.
  • This was almost a one-pot recipe.  I used my Mario Batalli orange enameled cast iron lasagna pan for this.  (And no, I’m not selling them.)  It works great on the stove top when I want a high brown that will be deglazed, then the whole recipe popped into the oven.
  • I used hot-house tomatoes because I had them on hand.  A jammy Rosenblum Cellars California Zinfandel was used in the braise– about $12.
  • This is truly an excellent recipe that seems like a lot of work, but isn’t.  Many parts can be made ahead if need be — like the garam masala.  This recipe makes enough for the short ribs and leaves a scant 3 T left over for other recipes.
  • We liked this so much that I’m going to try it with a larger cut of meat just to see how the incredible flavor holds up.  I’m thinking that finishing it on the barbeque would be great.

Indian-spiced short ribs with Aloo Gobi