Kerala Style Pork Curry

This Kerala style pork curry is made slightly different by other members of my family, but we all agree it is definitely a favorite.

Joby's Test Kitchen Kerala Pork Curry in skillet.

It is a common misconception that all Indians are vegetarians. This becomes apparent when my family goes out to eat and orders beef or pork.

Often the waiter will look alarmed and remind us, “there’s meat in there!” Well, some of us Indians do in fact eat meat.

As for pork, I’m not sure how common it is in the rest of India, but our family is from Kerala where pork is eaten, especially on special occasions like weddings, Easter, or Christmas. 

This recipe is very similar to my chicken curry recipe, in that the pork is then simmered in a savory blend of tomatoes, onions, and spices. The result is tender and flavorful pork in a rich gravy.

Since pork shoulder can be fatty, I trim off most of the fat since I’m not a fan of the texture. I also don’t add much oil since browning the meat renders enough fat to sauté the onions and ensures the pork doesn’t dry out.

If you like the texture of the fat, cube it and brown it along with the meat. My dad does it this way and gets crispy fried bits of pork fat which others in my family love.

How to Make Kerala Pork Curry

In a medium bowl, mix together 2 pounds of cubed pork pieces, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric. 

Place a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. I don’t add any oil because the pork is fatty enough for me, but feel free to drizzle some in. When the pan becomes very hot, add 1/2 of the pork and leave it alone for a few minutes without stirring, until it browns underneath. 

Using tongs, turn over the pieces and brown the other sides, but don’t fully cook the pork. Transfer browned pieces to a plate and repeat with the remaining pork. Set aside.

If there’s no residual fat in the pan from the pork, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Then add 1 small sliced onion, minced ginger and garlic, 1-2 green chilies minced or sliced, and fresh curry leaves. Sauté and stir for 5-8 minutes until golden brown.

Next, add 1 small diced tomato or 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste. Sauté for 1-2 minutes or until the tomatoes cook down and stick to the bottom of the pan.

Reduce heat to low, and add 3-4 tablespoons ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder. Sauté another 1-2 minutes until it it turns a deep brown color and the spices become aromatic. Be careful not to burn them!

Finally add the pork back in, give it a good stir, and cover with a lid. Increase the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add 1/4-1/2 cup water and 1 heaping teaspoon of homemade or store-bought meat masala. Stir again, cover, and let it simmer for 20 minutes more.

Taste for salt. If planning to serve the next day, let the pork come to room temp about 30-60 minutes, then store in fridge. The flavors in curries concentrate and deepen over night, hence why they taste better after 1-2 days.

Enjoy pork curry with rice, chapati, naan, or poori.

Curry Leaves

Most Indian grocery stores carry curry leaves now, but if you can’t find any, the curry will taste fine without them.

I did not have any curry leaves when I made this curry, as you can see in the pictures, and it was still delicious.

Another option if you don’t have any is to add in fresh cilantro at the end. This will impart a fresh herb flavor.

Chili Peppers

I prefer using Serrano chilies but you can use jalapeños which aren’t as spicy. For very spicy, use Bird’s Eye chilies or habañeros.

You can also control spiciness by how you cut the peppers.

I leave them whole (mild spice) when cooking for my kids. My dad usually splits the chilies down the middle (medium heat). Or you can mince them finely (very hot!).

Chili Powder vs. Paprika

My parents don’t add paprika to their dishes and instead use a lot of chili powder.

However, I substitute some of the chili powder with paprika to tone down the spiciness for my kids.

As they have gotten older, I’ve been slowly increasing the amounts of chili powder and decreasing the amounts of paprika.

What My Kids Say:

10 year-old: “I like this curry a lot, because the pork is soft and tender, and the gravy is salty and spicy.”
7 year-old: “I like it because it is very delicious and also I’m giving it 5/5 stars because I want more people to try this recipe.”

Here are some Other Kerala meat recipes

Simple Kerala Beef Curry
A savory Kerala curry of tender beef simmered in onions, tomatoes, and spices.
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen Kerala beef curry and chili pepper in pan.
Curried Chicken Meatballs
These Indian meatballs have all the flavor of chicken curry concentrated into one small bite. It is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Check out this recipe
Plate of Indian meatballs in curry simmer sauce, with cilantro and rice.
Turkey Keema with Mixed Vegetables
A savory and spicy curry made of ground meat, onions, tomatoes, veggies, and plenty of masala! 
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen skillet with turkey keema or turkey mince curry mixed veggies
Dad’s Kerala Chicken Curry
Tender pieces of chicken simmered in a rich gravy of tomatoes, onions, and spices.
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen Kerala Chicken Curry in metal bowl on wooden platter

Joby's Test Kitchen Kerala style pork curry in skillet.

Kerala Style Pork Curry

Joby’s Test Kitchen
Tender pieces of pork are browned and then simmered in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, chilies, and spices for a rich and savory curry.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 52 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 22 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 8
Calories 210 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs pork shoulder, cubed into 1-inch chunks, and extra fat trimmed if desired
  • tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1-2 tbsps oil, optional
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 inch peeled ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 branches curry leaves
  • 1-2 medium green chilies, minced or left whole *(see Notes below)
  • 1-2 tbsps tomato paste or 1 tomato diced
  • ½-1 tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 3-4 tbsps coriander powder
  • 1 heaping tsp meat masala *recipe below

Meat Masala

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3-4 whole cardamom pods
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon or 1½ inch cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp black pepper or 3 black pepper pods
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg, optional

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl, mix together the pork pieces, salt, and turmeric.
  • Place a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. I don't add any oil because the pork is fatty enough for me, but feel free to drizzle some in. When the pan becomes very hot, add ½ of the pork and leave it alone for a few minutes without stirring, until it browns underneath.
  • Using tongs, turn over the pieces and brown the other sides, but don’t fully cook the pork. Transfer browned pieces to a plate and repeat with the remaining pork. Set aside.
  • If there’s no residual fat in the pan from the pork, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Then add the onions, ginger, garlic, green chili, and curry leaves. Sauté and stir for 5-8 minutes until golden brown.
  • Next, add the tomatoes or tomato paste. Sauté for 1-2 minutes or until the tomatoes cook down and stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Reduce heat to low, and add coriander, paprika, and chili powder. Sauté another 1-2 minutes until it it turns a deep brown color and the spices become aromatic. Be careful not to burn them!
  • Finally add the pork back in, give it a good stir, and cover with a lid. Increase the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, add ¼-½ cup water and the meat masala. Stir again, cover, and let it simmer for 20 minutes more.
  • Taste for salt. If planning to serve the next day, let the pork come to room temp about 30-60 minutes, then store in fridge. The flavors in curries concentrate and deepen over night, hence why they taste better after 1-2 days.

Meat Masala

  • Grind all the spices together in a spice or coffee grinder, or by hand with a mortar and pestle. Store in an air-tight jar, preferably in the fridge so it will stay fresh longer. Makes about 2 teaspoons.

Notes

Curry Leaves: Most Indian grocery stores carry curry leaves now but if you can’t find any, the curry will taste fine without them. Or you can add some cilantro at the end if you like.
Chili Peppers: I prefer using Serrano chilies. For less spice, try jalapeños. For very spicy, use Bird’s Eye chilis or habañeros. You can also control spiciness by how you cut the peppers. Leave them whole for mild spice, split them down the middle for medium heat, or mince them finely for very hot.
Chili Powder vs. Paprika: Paprika adds color to dishes without the spice. Substituting some of the chili powder with paprika helps tone down the spiciness. 
Keyword curry, Kerala, pork

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