indian inspired hot and sweet cherry barbecue sauce


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

Indian inspired cherry barbecue sauce | A Brown Table

It’s almost comical that I’ve thought about this barbecue sauce for a few years now but never had a chance to post it. I blame the short span that the cherry fruiting encompasses, it’s never long enough! But this cherry BBQ sauce is probably one of the most ideal marriages when it comes to blending the flavors from the East with the West. Barbecue sauce always makes a compelling argument to use something sweet to flavor meat, growing up in India you learn to never add sweet to savory but a good tangy and sweet BBQ sauce can convince anyone that this is a great idea. 

This Indian-inspired version uses a dried red Kashmiri chilies to amp up the heat, coriander to infuse a rich smoky flavor and jaggery (a dark raw brown Indian sugar) for sweetness. But the last ingredient jaggery does so much more, it brings out the heat of the chilies, but also bumps up the tartness of the cherries and sourness of the vinegar. It’s one of those raw sugars which really compliments spicy flavors making it a better ingredient than regular brown sugar in this sauce. I highly recommend sticking to jaggery even though you could get away with regular brown sugar, this sauce is all about flavor and taste.

This is one a time batch recipe and you could easily scale this up to can (I haven’t tried to can it, because we never have enough left). Use the sauce over meats like you would normally and grill away!

Indian inspired cherry barbecue sauce | A Brown Table

Indian inspired cherry barbecue sauce | A Brown Table

Indian inspired cherry barbecue sauce | A Brown Table

Indian inspired cherry barbecue sauce | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this sauce;

  • Use the tart and sweet red cherries in this recipe.
  • I usually like to marinade the meat/poultry for at least 1 hour before you grill. Rub and massage the sauce into the meat well, so it seeps through the meat. I also sometimes nick the meat with a paring knife to let the flavors get deep into the meat.
  • I like to reserve a little bit of the fat from on the leftover chicken to use to grill vegetables. 
  • I grilled a couple of chicken thighs and vegetables in Finex’s cast iron grill pan over the charcoal fire pit. Once the meat is marinaded for at least 1 hour in a cup of the sauce (my ratio is 2lbs of meat to 1 cup sauce), I slapped it on the lightly oiled pan and allowed it to cook until the internal temperature reached 165F. Avoid moving the chicken to much when grilling, to get good charred grill marks and also orevent the meat from sticking to the grates. The grill pan from Finex is great to cook over direct fire as it can withstand the temperature and also heats evenly. I poured some of the BBQ sauce into the little cast iron BBQ pot to keep it warm while I brushed the meat to coat it with the sauce.

Indian inspired cherry barbecue sauce | A Brown Table

indian – inspired cherry barbecue sauce

yields: approximately 4 cups sauce


2 cups pitted cherries (I used the Bing variety) (frozen/fresh)

1 cup whole grain mustard

1 cup ketchup

1 medium-sized white onion (which is approximately 1 cup diced white onion)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Worchesterchire sauce

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

4 dried Kashmiri chilies with seeds

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup packed jaggery or dark brown sugar

1. Place all the ingredients, except the jaggery/sugar in a high-speed blender and process until silky smooth. If you want an extra smooth sauce, strain the mixture through a strainer to remove any fibers (you might not need to depending on how strong of a blender you use).

2. Transfer the sauce to a small saucepan and add the jaggery/sugar. Cook on medium-low heat with occasional stirring until the sauce just begins to boil. Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and keep the sauce aside until ready to use.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Williams-Sonoma and Finex. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

3 Responses

  1. Looks so good. Cherries aren’t available at the moment where I am. What do you think about dates or pineapple?

    1. Hi Elise, frozen cherries would work too. I would avoid dates because they are not tart and would make the sauce too sweet. Raw pineapple could work but I haven’t tried it. I would recommend experimenting fruits that have a good amount of acid in them to work with this combination of flavors. I hope this helps.

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