This recipe is Vindaloo-ish, but altogether milder, fruitier and sweeter while retaining the tang of the original pork vindaloo recipe.
Coconut cream, tomatoes and apricots give this easy pork curry a deliciously creamy, fruity, sweet and sour taste. Even if you are not a fan of fruit in curry (neither am I, usually), do try adding some slivered dried apricots towards the end of cooking this curry. It lifts the whole affair to a completely different level.
This recipe is one of those happy accidents when you start off making one thing, segue into another, think you’ve lost your way, fiddle a bit, and suddenly realise you’ve come right and created something rather fine.
So maybe it should be called ‘Come Right Pork Curry’.
Backstory: I buy all our household meat supplies directly from a butcher and last night defrosted a tub of what I took for diced lamb. I had planned a Sri Lankan, coconut milk-based lamb curry for today, but shortly after beginning to fry the diced meat, realised it was, in fact, pork. Hurriedly looking for a pork vindaloo recipe, I absentmindedly added a can of coconut cream to the pot. This is not part of a standard vindaloo recipe, but with all my tweaks along the way, everything ended up just fine.
In fact, the pork and apricot curry tasted absolutely delicious: meltingly tender after an hour in the oven with only a vague chilli warmth, and a wonderful sweet and sour, gentle fruitiness from the slivered apricots and tomatoes.
I could literally not walk past the pot without dipping a spoon in for yet another taste, even after several bowlfuls. Served with tarka dhal lentils and heaps of fluffy basmati rice, this has to be one of my easiest and most rewarding curry recipes ever. A surefire winner.
PORK AND APRICOT CURRY WITH TOMATOES AND COCONUT
1.3 kg diced pork goulash (off the bone)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 scant tablespoons (25 ml) mild curry paste – Korma or Madras
10 cardamom pods, lightly crushed in mortar with pestle or with back of a large knife
6 whole cloves
2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon or 2 pieces of cassia
1 1/2 t (7.5 ml) grated fresh ginger
1 t (5 ml) ground coriander
1 t (5 ml) ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (to taste: make it as hot as you like. Proper vindaloo is VERY hot but I was cooking for children)
1 can (420 g) coconut cream (coconut cream is better than milk here for the texture)
1 can (420 g ) chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup (90ml) plus 1 T (15ml) white grape vinegar
salt to taste
1 t (5ml) brown sugar
a handful (about 3/4 cup) soft dried apricots, cut into thin slivers with kitchen scissors
1/2 cup Mrs Ball’s chutney
handful of fresh coriander, finely snipped
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Use a large, heavy bottomed cast iron pot with a tight-fitting lid, like Le Creuset or something similar. Fry the pork pieces in batches in just enough sunflower oil to coat the base of the pot. Don’t add too many pieces at once, otherwise the meat will steam instead of browning. Remove browned pieces with a slotted spoon to a bowl and carry on until all the meat is lightly browned all over, but not completely cooked.
- Add a little more oil to the pot – about 2 T (15ml) and cook the onions until almost translucent but not brown. Add all the spices at once, return the meat to the pot and add the coconut cream and canned tomatoes, vinegar, salt and sugar. Bring to a mild boil, put the lid on and transfer the pot to the oven.
- Set the timer for 1 hour. About 15 minutes before the end of cooking time, toss in the slivered dried apricots and return pot to the oven. Let stand for at least one hour before serving, for the flavours to develop. Just before serving, stir in the chutney and fresh coriander.
Meanwhile, cook the basmati and make tarka dhal from red lentils and tiny yellow mung lentils. Tarka dhal is served quite soupy, so add more water if yours looks like it’s getting too thick. It mustn’t be a stiff porridge sort of story, more of a sturdy gravy.
1 cup yellow mung beans, soaked in cold water for 1 hour and rinsed
1 cup red lentils, rinsed in a sieve under cold running water
1 t (5 ml) salt
1 t (5 ml) turmeric
1 t (5 ml) grated fresh ginger
1 t ( 5 ml) finely crushed fresh garlic
6 cups water
- Simmer all the ingredients together over a medium heat in a large pot (it easily boils over, don’t put the lid on) until the lentils are very soft and the dhal thick and soupy. Add a little more hot water if it looks like it’s getting too thick. You don’t want a stiff paste, it should be the texture of thick minestrone.
3 T (45ml) sunflower oil
2 cloves garlic, finely slices
1 small onion, very finely sliced into rings
1/2 t (2.5 ml) whole cumin seeds
2 medium dried chillies
- Heat the oil in a small frying pan and fry the garlic slivers until barely golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon onto absorbent paper.
- Cook the onions in the oil in the same pan until dark brown and crispy, remove with a slotted spoon onto absorbent paper.
- Add the cumin seeds and chillies to the oil, fry until barely golden and aromatic. Toss into the pot of tarka dhal and when ready to serve, top with slivers of crisp golden garlic and onion.