A black pork curry is a quintessentially Sri Lankan dish. I’ve never tasted anything quite like it anywhere else in the world. The black comes from pepper, very dark roasted curry powder and either tamarind or goraka (another similar souring agent). During our recent holiday, my cousin Ruvi commented that while spending time with her Grandmother and Great-Aunt in their home in Moratuwa they would feast on Black Pork Curry, served ever so simply with white rice and freshly grated coconut!
Since Podi Achcho, Ruvi’s great-aunt was around at the time I immediately asked her if she would show me how to make it! When I came home that afternoon from the day’s wanderings Podi Achcho and Achcho (Grandmother of the Firehouse clan) had prepared a cooking lesson of sorts just for me.
The curry itself is simple but requires slow cooking and careful attention to detail on the curry powder. I’ve made this curry before and my mistake has always been to merely “brown” the rice and spices. Silly when I think about it now, black pork requires virtually blackene d spices. Also, I was informed by Podi Achcho that there is an “order” in which the spices have to be placed in the pan. It all makes sense, different spices brown at different rates obviously.
Black Roasted Curry Powder
- 2 tbsp. raw rice
- 3 tbsp. coriander
- 2 tbsp. cumin
- 1 tbsp. fennel
- 1 tsp. cardamon pods
- 1/2 tsp. mustard
- 1 pandan leaf
- curry leaves
- 1/2 stick of cinnamon
- 1.5 kg of pork (you need a bit of fat, I used butt and belly) chopped
- 1/2 red onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp. ginger minced
- salt and pepper
- 2 green chillis slices
- 1sp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. chilli powder (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp. tamarind paste
- 1/4 cup of white vinegar
To make the curry, place all of the curry ingredients in a heavy bottom sauce-pan with 1 cup of water and place on the heat.
When it comes to the bowl, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for an hour or until the pork is tender.
While the pork is cooking make the curry powder. In a dry pan roast the rice until brown, when you’re satisfied with the colour add the curry leaves, pandan leaf and cinnamon.
Next add the fennel and fry for a few minutes. Next go the cloves, cardamon and coriander.
Next to last is the cumin and finally the mustard seeds. Leave the whole mix on the heat until the mustard seeds pop.
When cool to touch, place the spice mix in a grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Add 2 heaped tablespoons of the curry powder to the tender pork curry and simmer with the lid off until the liquid has all but evaporated. Add about a teaspoon on top just before serving for a traditional presentation.