A few months back, I went on a trip to Sri Lanka, the Emerald Isle of Asia. It was a part birding trip and a part family holiday. I knew the food there would be good but the actual stuff was good beyond imagination. For most parts, I discovered the best food in the humblest of establishments. Except for the hotel in Nuwara Eliya, we didn’t have a single meal that can be classified anything less than “awesome”. It is a word that if oft misused but I sometimes joke that when it comes to food, if I were a professor and I had to grade a class, “Nobody would fail but don’t expect an A …. something that fetches an A+ would have to life-changing!” This trip was an exception in that it was a week of straight As (for most parts) and with food most “critics” wouldn’t even consider worth critiquing (that is till they have tucked in!)
It started with the dinner at the Blue Magpie at Sinharaja after a hard days worth of birding. There was the first family dinner this year at Upalis in Colombo. The memorable home cooked dinner and fabulous string hoppers at the Kandy Cottage. And then there was the lunch after climbing the Lion Rock at Sigiriya. Its futile to describe it in words … if you happen to be there, try out Gamagedara Village Foods. One of the highlights was the dessert of thick curd with honey. On multiple occasions, I had even a third helping of this delightful dessert. A few photos from the trip to whet your appetite.
Fast forward to present day Seoul, and I’m standing in front of the menu board in the office cafeteria wondering, “Is that even food?” (the professor in me grudgingly managing to produce a C-!) I walked back home as the summer sun dropped behind the low hills at a distance. Got some pork shoulders on the way back and decided to make a rustic pork curry from the Sri Lanka hill country. This was also an excuse to use the wonderful cinnamon that I got from the trip, as well as the recent acquisition of (dried) curry and pandan leaves.
Sri Lankan Style Pork Curry
- 400 gms of pork (preferably a cut a little of bit of fat but not too fatty nor too lean)
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Freshly ground cumin, coriander and fennel seeds (2:2:1 ratio ... totaling about 2 tablespoons)
- Fenugreek seeds (lightly roasted and half a teaspoon)
- A stick of cinnamon
- A few pods of cardamom
- One large (or 2 small) onion roughly chopped
- Garlic paste (one teaspoon)
- Few slices of garlic
- A few curry leaves and a small pandan leaf
- A couple of green chilies finely chopped
- A tablespoon of vinegar (the original recipe calls of goraka ,good luck finding it!)
- Fresh coriander leaves
- (Optional) A glass of cold beer (for the chef! 🙂 )
- Cut the meat into bite sized chunks and rub with the dry ground spices, cinnamon, cardamom. Set aside for about 20 mins.
- Chop the onions, chilies and ginger forming a small pile with the curry and pandan leaves. Heat some oil in a pan and just as its about to smoke, put the pile in the pan. The smell is just divine (would probable have neighbors leaning over the balcony to check out whats going on).
- After a while when the aromas have mellowed and the onion is translucent, add the meat and cook in high heat for about a minute.
- Add the vinegar (or goraka), some warm water to cover the meat and bring it to the boil. Reduce and cook covered until the meat is cooked and the sauce has reduced to thick consistency.
- Turn off the gas, sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve over fluffy basmati rice.