It’s no surprise, bearing in mind its long history, that there are many variations of this Christian Goan dish. It’s thought to be a riff on carne de vinho e elhos, the Portuguese dish which is a simple offering of pork cooked long and slow in wine vinegar and garlic until tender. Apparently the Portuguese brought chilli to India during the sixteenth century, but it wasn’t until over 200 years or so later that this dish was rustled up there, born out of requests from the British for pork when they arrived in Southern India.

The vinegar serves two purposes here – it’s used in the marinade so leaves the pork wonderfully tender, and it gives a sharpness to the curry gravy which stops it tasting too rich. The marinade, accompanying spices and ingredients used here to cook the meat have so much flavour that the only liquid called for is water (not stock). Serves 4 generously, with rice and naan on the side. Try it also with the pickled shallots also. Any leftovers can be shredded and served cold in a naan with chopped lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes.

For the curry

        1kg skinless shoulder of pork, chopped into 2–3cm pieces

        3 tbsp vegetable oil

        1 tsp mustard seeds

        2 sprigs of curry leaves

        2 onions, chopped

        1 cinnamon stick

        2 cardamom pods

        6 garlic cloves, chopped

        20g fresh ginger, chopped

        2 green chillies, chopped

        Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade

        1 tsp cumin seeds

        6 whole cloves

        15 black peppercorns

        1 red chilli, cut down the middle

        1 tsp turmeric

        6 garlic cloves, crushed

        40g fresh ginger, grated

        1½ tbsp tamarind paste

        2 tbsp red wine vinegar

        1 tsp salt

        ½ tbsp light muscovado sugar

1      First make the marinade by toasting the cumin, cloves and peppercorns in a small frying pan for 1–2 minutes until you can smell their aroma. Tip into a pestle and mortar and grind down to a powder. Tip into a sealable container and add the rest of the marinade ingredients. Stir everything together, add the pork and toss to coat in the marinade. Pop the lid on and marinate in the fridge for up to 8 hours.

2      Heat the oil in a large casserole pan over a medium heat and fry the mustard seeds and sprigs of curry leaves. As soon as they start to splutter, stir in the chopped onions, cinnamon stick and cardamom and season the mixture, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 10–12 minutes, stirring every now and then until the onion starts to look translucent and turn golden on the edges. Stir in the garlic, ginger and green chillies and cook for 2–3 minutes.

3 Add the pork and any marinade to the pan and cook over a medium heat for 8–10 minutes, turning the pieces every now and then until golden on each side. Pour in 350ml hot water, season again, then cover with a lid. Bring to a simmer then turn the heat down to the lowest setting and simmer for 1 hour. After 30 minutes, give the curry a good stir. Replace the lid but keep stirring every now and then until the pork is tender. Check it around 10 minutes before the end and add 100–150ml hot water if the sauce looks dry.


Whether it’s a hot curry or a creamy dal you’re serving alongside a simple bowl of steamed rice (or ordering from the takeaway!), try it with this refreshing pickle to sharpen the spicy flavours. Finely slice 1 small red onion or 2 large banana shallots and put in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar and about ¼ teaspoon of finely crushed cumin seeds and coriander and ½ teaspoon each of salt and caster sugar. Add around 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped coriander then stir everything together and leave to marinate for 20 minutes before serving. It’s punchy enough to clear blocked sinuses if you’re suffering from a cold, too.


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