Culinary SOS: Curing the craving for Badmaash’s Goan pork curry
I love the Goan pork curry at Badmaash. It haunts me with its complex, sweet-savory, meaty depth. I’ve requested a doggie bag even when there’s only been an ounce of sauce leftover, the dish is so good you want to hoard every last drop. I would love to have the recipe from Badmaash.
The complexity and depth of Badmaash’s Goan pork curry, created by Pawan Mahendro and his sons Nakul and Arjun, comes from three distinct stages of cooking. None is hard and all are worth the minimal effort. Start to finish, the dish takes two days. But you’re only actively cooking for a half hour or so. And then you can enjoy this dish for many meals, especially since the layers of spice, sweet, sour and heat become more nuanced over time.
Food columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson goes to Artesia with Arjun and Nakul Mahendro and their father, Pawan, to try some of the best Indian food in the city. The Mahendros own a modern Indian restaurant, Badmaash, with two locations in Los Angeles.
Toasting and blending your own spice mix ensures a fresh fragrance in the resulting curry. The aromas intensify when mixed with fresh chiles, garlic and ginger in a tangy marinade that soaks into fatty chunks of pork shoulder and belly over a day or two. After a long simmer in a caramelized onion and tomato sauce, the meat becomes tender enough to cut with a fork. Serve it with lots of basmati rice to soak up all the sauce.
Culinary SOS: Badmaash Goan Pork Curry
About 4 hours plus marinating time. Serves 10 to 12.
You can buy all the spices, including curry leaves, jaggery and tamarind paste online or at Indian markets.
- 1 tablespoon broken dried red chiles, such as chiles de arbol
- 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 4 serrano chiles, finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 piece (3 inches) fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped jaggery or granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)
- ¼ cup tamarind paste (not syrup)
- 7 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless pork shoulder, cut in 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 pound pork belly, cut in 1 1/2-inch cubes
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
- ½ ounce curry leaves
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (not syrup)
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced, for serving
- Make the spice mix: Heat a large, heavy-bottom skillet over medium-low heat, add the dried chiles, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns and cloves. Toast, stirring frequently, until very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Cool completely and pulse in a spice grinder until very finely ground. Pulse in the turmeric and cayenne.
- Marinate the pork: Combine the spice mix with the serranos, garlic, ginger, jaggery, molasses, tamarind and red wine vinegar in a large bowl and stir until well mixed. Add the pork shoulder and belly and mix well with your hands to evenly coat the pork. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, the longer the better.
- Make the curry: Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until golden and caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the bay leaves, mustard seeds, and curry leaves and stir well for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and stir vigorously and constantly until the garlic begins to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the marinated pork with its juices and 2 tablespoons salt.
- Raise the heat to high and cook the pork, stirring frequently, until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring frequently and adding water if the sauce seems to be drying out, until the pork shoulder is tender but not falling apart, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
- Stir in the tamarind paste and season with salt. Garnish with the sliced red onion and serve hot.
Make ahead: The pork can be marinated for up to 2 days before cooking. The cooked curry can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Adapted from Pawan Mahendro.
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