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Sri Lankan Black Pork Curry

One of my favourite countries to travel to for food is Sri Lanka. This pearl in the Indian Ocean has vast culinary diversity and influences, and you could travel through the country for weeks without repeating the same dish for lunch or dinner. Black pepper pork curry is one of my favourite dishes. I prefer using pork neck fillets to make this curry, but you can also use shoulder or belly. The 'Roasted Curry Powder' adds much-needed aroma, while onions provide sweetness, balanced by the sourness of tamarind and coconut vinegar, and black pepper adds heat to this dish. You can enjoy this pork with rice, rotis, or even as a filling for a spicy taco.

To make 50g of Roasted Curry Powder

Coriander seeds - 10g

Cumin seeds - 10g

Black Peppercorns-7g

Basmati Rice - 5g

Green Cardamom - 10g

Fennel- 5g

Cloves- 5g

Black mustard seeds - 3g

Cinnamon- 2-inch piece

Fresh curry leaves - 15 (optional)

Rampe or pandan leaf - 2 inch (optional)

Place a frying pan over medium heat and add all the ingredients mentioned above. Keep stirring from time to time to ensure they do not burn, and roast the spices until the pandan and curry leaves turn dry.

Allow the mixture to cool, then grind it into a fine powder using a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. Pour the curry powder into an airtight jar and store it in a dry place.

To make the Pork Curry (serves 4)

Pork neck fillets - 1kg boneless cut into big chunks

Coconut Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar - 100ml

Cinnamon- 1 stick

Lemon grass - 1 split in half

Pandan leaf (2 inches)

Green chillies- 2 split in half

Star Anise - 2 (though traditional recipes do not use Star Anise, I prefer to use them as I think they work well with pork together)

Red Onions- 500g sliced

Minced ginger - 1 tsp

Minced garlic - 1tsp

Black pepper - crushed to finish - 1 tbsp

Tamarind pulp- 3 tbsp (if you have tamarind block, take about 10g of tamarind and soak it in hot water, squeeze once it cools down and pass through a sieve for pulp)

Salt - to taste

Veg or sunflower oil - 50ml


Rub the prepared pork with vinegar, 2 tbsp of roasted curry powder, ginger, and garlic, and leave it in the fridge for about 2-3 hours.

Heat oil in a deep pan over medium heat and add cinnamon stick, lemongrass, green chillies, pandan leaf, and star anise. Sauté for a minute or so, then add onions. Sprinkle salt and let the onions cook on medium heat, stirring until golden brown. Sprinkle a little water occasionally if you think the base of the pan is getting brown.

Add pork to the pan and stir well. Keep stirring from time to time for about 5-6 minutes so that all the pork is seared well. Add 250ml of water. Put a lid on and cook the pork for about 45 minutes on low heat. Depending on the cut you use, the cooking time might vary.

Keep checking for moisture in the pan occasionally and stirring every 5 minutes.

The onions will need to break down into a thick sauce. Once the pork is tender, add tamarind pulp and black pepper and check for seasoning. Some people prefer to add a little sugar to this dish at this time to cut the sharpness, but I prefer not to.

Once the meat is almost falling apart tender, take the lid off and let the excess moisture evaporate, resulting in a dark, thick, and shiny sauce. You can always add a bit more curry powder if you prefer a much bolder and robust flavour. Serve it hot or save it for the next day, as it always tastes better.

If you are trying to make tacos or wraps out of it, I recommend making a quick pineapple salsa with some diced fresh ripe pineapple, coriander, chopped onions, jalapeño, and lime juice to go with it.

Give it a go and let me know what you think of this Sri Lankan black pork curry.

Curry is served on a rotis with fresh pineapple chutney
Try serving with pineapple salsa and fresh chunks of pineapple.


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