Very lean pork is not suitable for this particular dish, as it needs to be fried in the fat of the pork after it has simmered to tenderness. It is customary to leave the skin on, so choose a cut such as pork belly or loin.
1 kg/2 lb pork including some fat
3 tablespoons oil
sprig of fresh curry leaves
or spoonful of dried curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons Ceylon curry powder
2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
5 cm/2 in cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon ground aromatic ginger (optional)
1 cup thick coconut milk
Cut pork into large cubes. Heat oil in a large saucepan and fry curry leaves and fenugreek, if used, until they start to brown. Add onion and garlic and fry over a low heat until onion is soft and golden. Add ginger, curry powder, chilli powder, salt, vinegar and pork. Stir and fry until meat is well coated with the spices. Soak tamarind pulp in 1 1/2 cups hot water, knead to dissolve pulp, strain and discard seeds. Add tamarind liquid, cinnamon, cardamom and aromatic ginger. Cover and cook on low heat until pork is tender, about 1 hour. Add coconut milk and cook for 10 minutes or more, uncovered.
Pour gravy into another saucepan, return pork to heat and allow to fry in its own fat. (If pork is not fat enough, add 1 tablespoon of ghee or oil to pan.) When pork is nicely brown, return gravy to pan and cook, uncovered, until gravy is thick. Serve with boiled rice.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)