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Vandouvan Spiced BBQ Lamb Riblets

IngredientsFruit, Meat
Day PartSnack
Menu PartAppetizer/Small Plate
Cuisine TypeAmerican
Vandouvan Spiced BBQ Lamb Riblets

Source: Recipe and photo courtesy of American Lamb Board

This easy-to-share hearty appetizer is a good way to introduce meat-craving eaters to a different red meat. Although lamb ribs are seen less often on menus than pork or beef ribs, Chef Morales likes the way “the complex flavor profile of the tamarind barbecue sauce and Indian-North African spice mix enhance the sweetness of the lamb riblets while taming the richness of the fat.” 


Lamb Riblets
8 lamb spareribs (Denver ribs)
8 oz. Vadouvan Spice Mix (recipe follows)
8 oz. Tamarind Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)
2 oz. kosher salt
Pickled peaches and cucumber raita, optional

Vadouvan Spice Mix
16 oz. onion
16 oz. shallots
Vegetable oil
2 tbsp. coriander seeds
1 tbsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly ground fenugreek
1 tsp. freshly ground yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp. ras el hanout
1/2 tsp. freshly ground allspice
1/2 tsp. freshly ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. chili flakes
8 pasilla chilies
8 Fresno or California chilies
8 bay leaves
8 curry leaves
Pinch nutmeg

Tamarind Barbecue Sauce
2 cups sliced, peeled shallots
12 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
4 cups ketchup
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes, drained, reserve juice
10 oz. tamarind paste
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 
1 tbsp. grated gingerroot
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup Vadouvan Spice Mix
1 tsp. kosher salt


  1. Prepare Vadouvan Spice Mix: Peel onion and shallots; slice thinly. Heat a little oil in skillet over medium heat. Fry onion and shallots in hot oil until golden brown. Cool; coarsely crush in a mortar and pestle. 
  2. Heat a small, dry skillet over medium heat. Add coriander, cumin, cinnamon, fenugreek, mustard, ras el hanout, allspice, cardamom, turmeric, cloves, peppercorns and chili flakes; toast, swirling the pan occasionally until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; finely grind spices. Toast chilies; grind in a mortar and pestle. Combine with the onion-shallot mixture and ground spices; set aside.
  3. Prepare Tamarind Barbecue Sauce: In large saucepan warmed over medium heat, combine shallots, garlic, ketchup, tomatoes, tomato juice, tamarind paste, honey, Worcestershire, ginger, bay leaf, Vadouvan Spice Mix and salt. Cook for 30 minutes on low heat. Cool and set aside.
  4. Prepare riblets: Generously brush lamb ribs with Tamarind Barbecue Sauce and season with Vadouvan Spice Mix and salt; wrap in foil. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place ribs on a sheet pan; bake in the middle rack for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender and easily pulls off the bones. Cool and brush with more barbecue sauce. Grill over charcoal to caramelize. Season with salt and Vadouvan Spice Mix. 
  5. To serve, accompany with pickled peaches and cucumber raita. 

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