Pork and Broccoli in My Favourite Indian Curry

pork_currybroccoliWritten with passion and respectful approach for recipes’ origins, Rick Stein’s India is a rare jewel of a book I highly recommend to all the fans of food from this part of the world. I am still far from having tested the whole content, but until now Squid Curry (I wrote about it here) is the most sensational discovery. First, I was thrilled to find my first Indian squid recipe, but most of all, I instantly fell in love with this particular curry sauce (or “gravy”, as apparently some Indians call it) and consider it not only the best Rick Stein’s curry but also my all-time favourite. It’s creamy, fiery, slightly bitter and slightly tangy… and I never get tired of it. After having prepared at least a dozen identical squid curries, I started to try other protein sources, enjoying every single experiment and this most recent one is a perfect example. Pork and broccoli are certainly not staples in India, but I dare say the result does taste and smell wonderfully Indian to me.

Apart from the usual adjustment of amounts, the replacement of frozen or fresh coconut (see the TIPS) with coconut milk and maybe some shortcuts I often try to invent as a lazy cook, this is more or less the original curry sauce, though I encourage you to discover Rick Stein’s book on your own. (Oh, and I always use coconut fat instead of the oil to fry the spices and onion; I love the additional coconut aroma it adds). Since I used here lean pork, I have treated it in a very un-Indian way, marinating it first in sake and salt, to soften the meat. If you use fattier cuts, you don’t need any marinade.

TIPS: The original recipe calls for frozen or fresh coconut, which is then mixed with water. I have never found frozen coconut; as for fresh… I do see it sometimes, but I’m too lazy to break it, peel it and mix (moreover, I’ve heard most coconuts arriving to Europe aren’t very fresh). This is why I use simply coconut milk.

Tamarind is a delicious “acidifier” of Indian – and also Thai – dishes. It is sold either fresh (but usually it’s the sweet snack version) or in hard dried blocks or in ready-to-use jam-like paste (in jars). I definitely prefer the block version because it keeps forever in the fridge and has a more lively taste than the paste (it’s dissolved in hot water and then strained to obtain “juice”). I never use the paste, so cannot tell you how much of it you should use; if it’s your choice, try to adjust the amounts to your preferences.

You can prepare the masala well in advance and keep for about a week in the fridge. You can also freeze it, but while mixing (you need some liquid to obtain a smooth paste) it’s better to add a bit of water instead of coconut milk which is not always perfect texture-wise after defrosting. The pork can be cut and put into marinade the day before you want to eat it.

Do not increase the amounts of any spices (except for chilli) when you prepare this dish for the first time, otherwise you might end up with a slightly bitter sauce (curcuma and mustard seeds are dangerous here).

I don’t eat mushy broccoli, so I add small florets at the end, until they are just heated. If you like very soft broccoli, add it together with the pork.

How to make Indian or Thai coconut milk curries lighter?

Coconut milk might be healthy, but it’s a high calorie and high fat ingredient. If you want to make a dish lighter, you can obviously add less milk, but you can also replace some of it with water or stock (I always skim the fat; it’s very easy after several hours in the fridge). It won’t be so creamy (I know, it won’t be “genuine traditional cuisine” either), but if you eat coconut milk-based dishes as often as I do, you might understand why I do this quite often… Everything depends on the dish and your preferences, but personally I find certain dishes still delicious with half of the milk replaced with water (or stock).

Do not buy low kcal or “light” coconut milk! It’s simply coconut milk with more water than the “standard” version (you can do it on your own and it will cost you -from my experience – at least twice less).

Preparation: about 30 minutes (except for the min. 1 hour marinade)

Ingredients (serves two):


1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sake

Masala paste:

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

5 cloves garlic (peeled)

3 fresh red chillies

1 teaspoon powdered turmeric

100 ml/about 1.4 fl oz coconut milk or cream (or, if you can use fresh or frozen grated coconut, combine 50 g of it with 50 ml water)

300 g thinly sliced pork (about 3mm thick); the fatter the cut, the softer it will be, but I’ve used here pork loin and thanks to the marinade and the thin slices it wasn’t tough)

florets from 1/2 big broccoli (divide them into bite-sized pieces)

1 tablespoon coconut fat (or oil of your choice)

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 small onion, sliced

5 garlic cloves, sliced

3 cm ginger, grated into a pulp

2 fresh green chillies, sliced

1/2 Kashmiri chilli powder (or any chilli powder you have)

1 small tomato, chopped (skinned or not)

1 teaspoon salt

3 cm tamarind block piece (or ready-to-use tamarind paste, but adjust the amounts to your taste)

1 teaspoon jaggery or 1/2 teaspoon brown cane sugar

fresh coriander leaves, chopped or left whole

Cut the pork slices into bite-sized pieces. Combine with the marinade ingredients and refrigerate covered for at least one hour.

If you use the tamarind block, place the piece into a glass and pour 50 ml hot water. Leave for fifteen minutes. (In the meantime start preparing the masala paste and the curry). After this time, mix it well and strain leaving the seeds. You will obtain tamarind “juice”.

Prepare the masala paste. Grind all the seeds into a powder in a spice or coffee grinder (you can of course use a pestle and mortar). Add the remaining ingredients and mix well in a food processor (baby food processor is very useful for such pastes), adding the coconut milk/cream ir fresh coconut with water (or, if you want to keep the masala several days or freeze it, add just enough water to make a smooth paste).

Heat the oil and fry mustard seeds at medium heat until they start popping. Add the onion and stir-fry it for ten minutes at medium heat until it starts browning. Add the garlic, the ginger, the green chilli and fry for one more minute. Finally, add the masala paste, the pork, the chilli powder, the tomato, salt and simmer for 10 minutes until the pork is cooked. Add the 1/2 tamarind water and sugar and finally the broccoli florets. Heat for 30 seconds. Adjust the flavours (add more sugar or tamarind juice or water or coconut milk, if using…).

Serve sprinkled with coriander leaves.


12 Replies to “Pork and Broccoli in My Favourite Indian Curry”

  1. Sounds tasty. I’ve never thought to combine pork and broccoli with Indian spices/condiments though I enjoy them with Chinese themed flavours. And it would be a good way to use up the block of coconut fat in my fridge.

    1. Thank you, A_Boleyn. It does sound like a Chinese combination, doesn’t it? I love both pork and brocoli and they were really delicious with Indian flavours too.

  2. This dish looks gorgeous and of course full of crave-worthy flavors. Although Rick Stein is not always the first name I associate with Indian cuisine, I have heard only good things about this book from you and others. I also enjoyed reading your notes about lessening the caloric load for those of us who indulge in coconut milk as often as we do – it’s a fair point! Yes, diluting with water or a lower percentage fat milk. I’m curious about your degreased stock – what is that Sissi?

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. Normally I would never trust a foreigner with such a complex cuisine as Indian, but you should watch some fragments of his culinary tv program in India (or elsewhere) and you will understand why I was convinced his book would be genuine and trustworthy. (OK, a friend first recommended his programs…but he has such a passion and is so respectful to local culinary heritage, origins of every dish, etc. I knew the book wouldn’t be a Europeanised version of Indian cuisine). I really like and respect him and the recipes are just fantastic! And he also made me throw out instantly all the stuff called “curry powder” 😉 I have mentioned the water added to coconut milk because I have met women who refuse to cook coconut sauce dishes just because of the fat content and I see the “light” version of coconut milk in my supermarket, which makes me furious because the price is even higher than the one of the regular product! It’s incredible!
      PS Thank you so much for the kind mention of my invented word which doesn’t exist in English…. I meant stock with skimmed fat. I have modified the post (I hope it’s a correct term… Sometimes it’s not easy to find a good one).

  3. I can tell from the list of ingredients and your lovely photo that this dish would become a favourite very quickly. Lean pork is one of our mainstays. I love how you reduce the fat of regular coconut milk, I totally agree about the rip off of the light stuff. I find coconut has a very strong flavour so reducing the quantity and replacing it with milk or water will not affect the flavour as you mentioned. I always skim the fat off my home-made stocks, I know it adds flavour, but I find the little globs of fat floating around not very appealing (although I just found out that one friend’s extremely picky eating husband loves chicken soup with all the fat floating around). We also love the earthiness of the cilantro you’ve pictured with this flavourful dish.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva, for all the compliments! Pork is my second favourite meat, after chicken, but I limit the fat cuts to the necessary minimum (such as moments when I crave streaky bacon too much!), so I’m always glad when the lean ones can be prepared in a new way (not as obvious as with chicken…).
      It’s incredible that people buy “light” coconut milk because it’s clearly written it doesn’t contain anything apart from coconut and water. I think too many people never read labels…
      I also don’t like fat in stock (I not only do it because of the health/weight control reasons); I still remember the taste from my childhood… yuck!.

    1. Thanks a lot, Katerina. You can always use milder chilli and the dish stays delicious.

  4. This is different. I love a good curry, but I’ve never had one with pork and broccoli and this mix of ingredients. Sure makes a beautiful dish! And thanks for another use for Tamarind. I bought jar of paste over 6 months ago and have never use it….until today. Bobby is in there making a BBQ sauce and ask if I knew was tamarind paste was, and more importantly, did I have any? 🙂 I was so glad to finally pull it out of the pantry. Now that it’s open…curry sounds like another use.

    1. Thanks a lot, MJ. I also did think brocoli and pork are both strange with Indian flavours, but finally it was fantastic. Brocoli is a bit like a soft-flavoured cauliflower, which doesn’t appear very often in Indian cuisine. As for the pork, it’s only a question of religious bans. I’m sure it would be much more present in Indian cuisine otherwise. (Especially fatty pork which is perfect for curries).
      I love tamarind more and more… I use it as a tangy kick in many sauces and soups instead of lemon juice or vinegar and find it irresistible! (Less violent than vinegar or lemon juice). I am glad you have started to use it too. You should try in one of your fantastic bean dishes. I’m sure a tiny amount would give it a refreshing kick.

  5. I actually prefer pork instead of chicken when making curry dish. It is more flavorful and it is more succulent. And if it wasn’t for my family, I would make it super hot and spicy. Hahaha. Thanks, Sissi.

    1. Thank you, Ray. I find pork really great with Indian curries. It’s boldly tasting meat, so it goes perfectly with strong spices. I know what you mean 😉 Luckily my husband loves hot flavours as much as I do, but when I have guests, I have to make changes to most dishes. (By the way, I hope you have enjoyed your trip to Japan).

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