Black Pork Curry is something of a calling card in Sri Lanka and really felt like THE dish if you were going to have a meat curry. It’s completely different to any curry we had tried before – fragrant and sour yet earthy with cloves and tamarind. We wanted to turn this curry into a real showstopper and decided we could go some way to doing that by changing the cut of the pork. Traditionally made with chunks of shoulder, we have opted to make our version with a crowd-pleasing crispy skinned belly that is the perfect centrepiece for your next dinner party.
1kg Pork Belly
2 Medium Onions, roughly chopped
6 Garlic Cloves
2 Red Chillies, roughly chopped
1 Thumb-Sized Piece of Ginger, roughly chopped
400ml Coconut Milk
500ml-1L Chicken Stock
2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
8 tsp Tamarind Paste
4 Bay Leaves
10 Curry Leaves
20g Desiccated Coconut
1tbsp. Fennel Seeds
1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp. Fenugreek Seeds
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
5 Cardamom Pods, bruised
Generous Pinch of Salt and Pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Score the skin of your pork belly diagonally in a diamond pattern at 1cm intervals. Season generously with salt and pepper, massaging the seasoning into the skin.
3. Place a small pan over a high heat and add the coconut, fenugreek, coriander, chilli powder and ground cinnamon. Dry toast the spices until the coconut has started to darken and the spices are aromatic. Remove from the heat and set aside until needed.
4. Place a large oven-proof pan or deep-sided tray over a medium-high heat with a spoonful of coconut oil in.
5. Add the cumin and fennel seeds to the pan and allow to toast in the oil for 30 seconds before laying the pork belly skin-side-down in the pan on top of the seeds.
6. Allow the skin to cook for at least 5 minutes, until starting to turn golden brown and crisp.
7. Remove the pork belly from the pan and add the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger, deglazing with a splash of the vinegar, and cook for 2 minutes until just starting to colour.
8. Add the toasted spice mix, tamarind, bay and curry leaves and the remaining vinegar to the onions and cook for a further minute.
9. Return the pork belly to the pan, skin-side-up, sitting it on top of the onions and add the coconut milk, taking great care not to wet the skin. Top up with chicken stock until there is liquid just up to the layer of fat running underneath the skin.
10. Bring the pan to the boil. This is very important as the liquid needs to be hot before going into the oven.
11. Transfer to the oven and cook for 2 ½ hours. Periodically check the sauce hasn’t reduced too far and top up with chicken stock as needed.
12. Once cooked, transfer the pork to a warm plate and allow to rest.
13. Spoon off any excess fat from the sauce, of which there is likely to be a lot, and loosen with any remaining chicken stock if desired. You want the sauce to be fairly thick and full bodied.
14. We tend to leave the sauce a bit chunky but you can blitz with a hand blender too for a really smooth and intense sauce.
15. To serve the Pork, you can simply return to the pan and serve as a sharing centrepiece or cut into portions with a serrated knife and add a few spoonfuls of the sauce. In either case, serve alongside steamed rice and top with coriander and fresh chilli for extra heat.