A Portuguese-Indian Classic
Pork curry is not usually on my radar, as I prefer lamb or chicken curry, but, when I bought several kilos of locally reared pork for the freezer recently, I decided to research a curried pork recipe that I’d enjoyed many years ago, Pork Balchão – Goan Pickled Spiced Pork. Balchão is a spicy Goan recipe and is made with either seafood, such as prawns, or with pork. Goa is a fascinating part of India that has been influenced by three religions over the years – Hinduism, Islam and Christianity (Catholicism), the latter being brought over by the Portuguese who colonised the area for nearly four centuries. Their influence is still seen in many of the regions recipes, such as Pork Vindaloo, beloved of Indian Curry Houses for post-pub dining in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as well as today’s recipe for Pork Balchão, which also uses vinegar as a key ingredient, although red wine was used originally, the local Goan cooks then substituted wine for vinegar.
I eventually found a recipe for Pork Balchão in a binder of hand-written recipe notes, I think it was given to me by an Indian friend I knew at Art College and who came from Goa, but, it’s so long ago now that I’m not sure, and I’m unsure where she got it from either. The recipe uses individual whole and ground spices, which forms the base of the spicy sauce, and doesn’t use a commercially made curry powder. I am a member of the Schwartz Spice Club, and I was also an ambassador for the spice brand in 2014, so, I always have a wide range of fresh spices to hand; today’s recipe uses cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, turmeric, chilli powder and dried chillies which are all available from the Schwartz spice range. The other key ingredient is vinegar, which acts as a tenderising and pickling agent as well as adding a wonderful piquancy to this spicy dish. I cooked the whole dish in a large Le Creuset saute pan, which is perfect for even heat retention, and has a lid which is essential for slow simmering.
You can make this recipe up to a week before serving it, or you can freeze it, and the longer it sits in the fridge, the better it is, as the spices infuse the meat and meld into a delightfully complex and multi-layered sauce. I served this with fluffy Basmati rice, naan bread and some pickled limes, which enhance the sour element of the recipe and add a lovely saltiness. If pork really isn’t your thing, then why not make the other Goan version, which uses seafood such as prawns, mussels or even crab; and, if you are veggie, then you can substitute the pork with Quorn, mushrooms, aubergines or lentils – remember you will need to adjust the cooking times for all of the above alternative suggestions however. I have shared the recipe below, and there is just one more thing, this is quite a dry curry with not much sauce or juice, so if you like your curries saucier (!), then just add more water or even some tinned tomatoes for a juicier version. Have a great weekend, and see you soon with more kitchen tales, recipes and travel news, Karen
Goan cuisine consists of regional foods popular in Goa, an Indian state located along India’s west coast on the shore of the Arabian Sea. Rice, seafood, coconut, vegetables, meat, pork and local spices are some of the main ingredients in Goan cuisine. The area is located in a tropical climate, which means that spices and flavors are intense. Use of kokum is another distinct feature. Goan food is considered incomplete without fish. It is similar to Malvani or Konkani cuisine.
The cuisine of Goa is influenced by its Hindu origins, the four hundred years of Portuguese colonialisation and the Muslim rule that preceded the Portuguese. Many Catholic dishes are either similar to or variants of their Portuguese counterparts in both naming or their use of ingredients……read more
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