Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pork with East Indian Bottle Masala and a few other conveniences

It's always on days that are really busy that I feel the urge to cook. Not only did I want to cook, I wanted an appreciative audience too. So I cajoled friends to drive down for dinner (from Pune!) and proceeded to raid the freezer and the store cupboards for inspiration. I took out the pork we had bought from a recently discovered pork shop nearby and waited for it to thaw while I finished my writing assignments for the day. I had a date with the kitchen to look forward to so I was inspired and the work was done sooner than I expected.

In the meantime I also badgered friends online for some ideas for the pork. I got some great suggestions but didn't quite have all that was required for the recipes. So I dug around my cupboards to see what I had. I found a packet of East Indian Bottle Masala that I had bought a few months ago at the Versova Koli Festival. It looked a nice fiery red and smelled awesome! I had it - a spicy pork curry was on the menu!
This is what I did-

500gms pork chunks with some fat
1 large onion, sliced
2 large potatoes cut into large cubes
4 slim carrots, in chunks

star anise
coconut Milk
red wine
sugar or jaggery


2 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 2sp garlic/cumin/red chilly paste

2 tbsp EIB masala
Method -

Wash the pork and drain it well. Marinate the meat for a hour or so in the ingredients listed above. If you're okay with a bit of heat add some red chilli powder to your marinade or some minced green chillies.
In a pressure cooker heat a tablespoon or two of any neutral oil. Don't waste your olive oil here, just use sunflower or peanut oil. This is a strong flavoured curry so the olive oil will be completely smothered. Fry the potatoes and let them turn slightly red/brown. Remove and put aside.

In the same oil add a couple of star anise and a 2" stick of cinnamon or cassia bark. Keep the heat down so you don't burn the spices. In a minute add the sliced onions and fry them slowly.
Let them start to brown and then add the marinated pork. Increase the heat and sear the meat well. Reduce the heat and let it braise nicely for a while. Give it a good 10 minutes and stir once in a way. Don't add any more oil even if you don't see any at the bottom of your cooker.
Just stir patiently and let it all cook slowly. Add the potatoes and the carrots and give it all a good mixing.
Pour in enough water till you can just see the water. Add 200ml coconut milk. You can extract fresh coconut milk out of the coconut or you can, like me, cut open a tetrapak. Your choice entirely!
Stir nicely and bring it to al boil. Add a very generous slug of red wine now and a sprinkling of sugar. If you have jaggery at hand use that instead. Just a little knob of it to give the curry a nicely rounded flavour - not an overt sweetness but enough to balance the flavours. Shut the cooker and once it has whistled/let off steam reduce the flame and let it cook for 15 minutes. Switch off and let it cool on it's own.
Voila! We're done!

Serve this with bread, steamed rice, or sannas.

While you might easily make this without the potatoes, don't. Heaven is in those potatoes, trust me. If you don't have carrots at hand that will be sad but can be lived with. You must have the potatoes.

The East Indian Bottle Masala that I used contained 24 different spices that included the usual turmeric, chillies (3 types), mustard seed, fenugreek, coriander seed, sesame and cumin. It also had cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, asafoetida, mace, nutmeg, all spice, star anise and other interesting spices like triphala and dagad phool.

Traditionally stored in long nosed glass bottles, that's where the masala gets its whimsical name. the masala is filled into the bottle and then tamped down firmly with a stick removing all the air in between the grains making it practically airtight. This allowed the spice to remain fresh over long periods of storage in the humid climes along the Indian coast. A little at a time is scraped out as required.

EIB Masala is available at most 'cold storage' shops in Mumbai. These are usually made by an enterprising lady in her own kitchen though some have built successful businesses selling this traditional spice mix.


Pinku said...

looks yum, seems easy to cook...and by the sound of it almost almost feels like our bangali mangshor jhol...just that its pork and there are added carrots.

will give it a try for sure!

Rhea Mitra Dalal said...

Thanks Pinku, lemme know how it turned out :)

krist0ph3r said...

ah, something that my mom makes ever so often... minus the coconut milk, though :)