Braaitime: smoked paprika, cumin and coriander rub for pork ribs

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Smoked paprika, cumin and coriander rub for pork ribs
Smoked paprika, cumin and coriander rub for pork ribs or rashers


I might not know how to light a fire or braai very well personally – what are friends for, anyway? – but I DO know a thing or two about seasonings, if I say so myself. In fact, so obsessed am I with flavour and taste and getting the very most from your food with proper seasoning, that I wrote an entire book on the topic containing more than 280 recipes.

I devised the recipe below for the chapter ‘Dry and moist savoury rubs’ in my kitchen bible cookbook, Relish: Easy sauces, seasonings and condiments to make at home. I’m not a big fan of ready-mixes of any kind, especially seasonings and sauces, because I don’t like the taste of additives and colourants and whatnot on my tongue, and I certainly don’t like paying for fillers. (Did I sound like my dad there? I guess I did.)  My book shows you how to make all of these at home, easily, with ingredients found in your store cupboard or the nearest supermarket, and will teach you how to make everything from vinegar, flavoured oils, dressings, mustard, pickles, chutneys, braai spices, spice mixes, soft cheeses and a whole lot more.

If you’re a keen braaier, chances are you like proper meat, so why go and ruin good (and expensive) meat with inferior sauces? Make your own – it’s as satisfying as building a fire.

With pork, I prefer a cut with some fat on it, to crisp up during braaing, as well as moistening the meat on the grill. The sweet succulence of free range pork takes bold flavours comfortably, and this rub is good on almost any cut of pork destined for the braai or oven. It’s equally tasty on red meat and free range chicken. If the bite of fiery smoked paprika is too heady for you, use sweet paprika instead.

I’m lucky enough to have a mate, Martin Raubenheimer of Curedeli, who sells free range pork and home-cured bacon at the weekly City Bowl Market a block or two from my home. It’s virtually impossible to go back to eating intensively reared supermarket-sold cops and bacon after you’ve tasted Curedeli’s delicious pork, and it’s pretty much the same price. Well worth looking out for a stockist of free range pork in your area, I’d say.

On to the recipe, since I believe it’s best to marinate meat a good 24 hours before braaing, and then of course only cook it once the meat in its marinade has reached room temperature, if it had been refrigerated.

Smoked paprika, cumin and coriander rub for red meat or pork

If you’re not keen on too much fire with your food, by all means use sweet instead of smoked hot paprika. This is excellent with pork ribs and chops grilled or roast in the oven.

Makes about 2/3 cup (165ml)


5 T (75ml) cumin seeds

2 T (30ml) coriander seeds

3 T (15ml) smoked hot paprika

1 t (5ml) mustard powder

2 t (10ml) soft brown sugar

1 t (5ml) ground allspice

1 t (5ml) ground black pepper

1 T (15ml) sea salt flakes


  1. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes until aromatic. Leave to cool completely and grind finely in a spice grinder.
  2. Mix thoroughly with the remaining ingredients and store in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks.


Blend 3 T (45ml) rub with 1 T (15ml) oil and 1 T (15ml) tomato puree and rub into pork ribs or chops. Let stand for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight, in the fridge before grilling or roasting.

Credits: Food styling by Brita du Plessis/photography by Sean Calitz. Published by Random House Struik 2011 November. © Sonia Cabano

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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.