Also known as Pork Masala

My daughters and I are asked for this recipe often. To commemorate this return to India – and this trip deserves special notice – I decided to post this recipe just as I have shared it with my daughters. Depending on the cut of meat you use, the fire in the peppers and the spices you use, flavor may vary from time to time, but that is the nature of cooking. As you become familiar with the basic recipe, you will know how to make changes for your family’s taste. Here it is, as copied and shared many times:

This is one of Harry’s recipe and one that we are asked for time and time again! The dry spices below form a spice blend from the city he grew up in. It is called bafat powder and is essential in many Manglorean dishes.  Incidentally, the word masala means “mixture”.

Pork Masala

About 5 pounds of fresh pork; we vary the kind…from lean tenderloin to pork roast, to fresh ham; all give good, yet slightly different results. Cut this into 1-inch cubes and wash very thoroughly, 3 times, then allow draining in a colander. While this is draining, you prepare the masala, putting all ingredients below into a large Dutch oven sized pan. 

  • 4 onions, sliced thin
  • 1 ½ inch piece of ginger root, scraped and chopped into small pieces
  • 20 medium cloves garlic; you may coarsely chop if you wish, or add whole
  • 1 green chili or jalapeño pepper; remove stem and seeds. Chop coarsely, and then add to pan.
  • 1 (3 ½ to 4 inch) cinnamon stick, broken in several pieces
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne or other red hot pepper powder
  • 1 rounded tablespoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • Salt, to taste

Add meat to pan; barely cover with water. Simmer until cooked, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. During last 30 minutes of cooking, you may add carrot, potato or sweet pepper chunks. Serve with rice, and enjoy! This dish is definitely one you can make ahead. The flavors marry overnight and it may be better the second day.

NOTE: We often added lemon pieces to the mix. It is not in the original recipe, but was something we loved and is an example of how you can take a “base recipe” and make it your own. The picture below shows how beautiful the pan of pork is prior to cooking.

Pork Masala Ingredients
Cooking process and ready to serve

This is a simple recipe because the ingredients do not require preliminary prep as do many Indian recipes. The distinct, yet subtle blends of spices used in the cooking often calls for making a puree, then sautéing before adding to the recipe, which then is further cooked. This is an easy recipe. You cut things up, add the other ingredients, mix and cook!

Many Mangalorean dishes have this special seasoning called bafat powder. It can be found in some Indian groceries and online. You may have the ingredients I your spice cabinet though. Here is a very basic, but delicious blend for making your own bafat powder.

  • 10 – 15 chillies Dried red
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon Peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon Cloves
  • 1 tablespoon Cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Coriander seeds
  • 1 Star anise

Roast all of these spices in a heavy skillet until they become fragrant. All cooling. Grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. (I have an old coffee grinder for this.) Some higher powered blenders will work well; other will just throw the spices around.