Pork and Sweet Potato Sumac Curry

I continue to work my way through Rick Steins ‘India’ Cookbook and we’ve been loving most of the curry’s from it. To start with I was following the recipes as closely as possible and then, once I’ve cooked them once or twice, tend to adapt them to suit our tastes and the ingredients we have. Some of the recipes that are left to cook now have slightly obscure ingredients in them which is probably why I haven’t made them yet.

The other day I was looking for something to cook. We didn’t have much in the way of supplies in the cupboards, but we did have some diced pork so I decided a pork curry would be a good option. Rick Steins Book had a recipe for Pork Curry with Green Chillies and Tamarind, so I decided to make a variation of that. My version contained pork and sweet potato and a concoction that I made up to replace the tamarind as I don’t even know what tamarind is, and certainly don’t have any in the cupboard. It ended up pretty spicy but had a delicious tangy, slightly acidic taste which coupled with a pineapple and onion salad gave the whole dish a kind of  spicy, sweet and sour curry flavour. I also found a use for the Sumac spice that we bought recently from thespicery.com.

Although based on the Rick Steins recipe, I think I changed it enough to claim it as my own (sort of) so will share it here with you.


For the Curry

3 Onions
500g Diced Pork
1 or 2 Large Sweet Potat0es
8 Cloves of Garlic
6cm piece of Fresh Ginger
6 Green Chillies
1 tbsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Cumin
2 Cloves
4cm piece of Cinnamon Stick
1 tsp Black Peppercorns
1 tsp Turmeric
2tsp Coriander Seeds
50ml Lime Juice
1 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar
2 tsp Sumac
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil

For the Salad

350g Pineapple Chunks
1 Red Onion
2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Sugar
Fresh Coriander (or dried coriander leaf will do)


The Flash-Pickled-Onion and Pineapple Salad

We’ll start with the salad as the onions need to be flash-pickled for an hour. This ‘Flash-Pickled-Onion and Pineapple Salad’ sounds a little odd, but it actually works perfectly with this curry so I highly recommend making it as it really adds to the curry and brings out the sweet and sour flavours. I’d say it was an essential addition and the curry wouldn’t be complete without it.

  1. Thinly slice the onion and toss together with the vinegar, salt and sugar and leave to marinate for an hour
  2. Strain off any excess liquid and toss with the pineapple chunks
  3. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and place the salad in the fridge for later.

Now onto the Curry

  1. Put the onions, 5 cloves of garlic, ginger and 3 of the chillies into a food processor and blend to a rough paste.
  2. Fry the mustard seeds, cumin, cloves and cinnamon stick in a dry frying pan for a few minutes, then tip them into a mortar and pestle, add the turmeric and grind to a powder. The cinnamon stick won’t grind down properly but that doesn’t matter.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the pork for around 10 minutes until browned
  4. Peel and chop the sweet potato into large chunks and add this to the pan. Fry for a few more minutes.
  5. Add the onion, ginger and garlic paste and the ground spices to the pan and fry for another 5 minutes.
  6. Pour water over everything in the pan until it is almost covered. Turn the heat down, cover with a lid and simmer for around 30 minutes
  7. While the curry is simmering, dry fry the coriander seeds and grind them to a powder.
  8. Then mix the lime juice, soft brown sugar and sumac together to create a sweet, tangy potion! This my tamarind replacement.
  9. Thinly slice the remaining 3 cloves of garlic and deseed and slice the remaining 3 green chillies lengthways.
  10. After 30 minutes or so of simmering the curry you should have tender pork in a rich thick sauce. If it isn’t thick enough, mix some cornflour in a little water and stir this through the curry to thicken.
  11. Add the tangy sumac potion, sliced garlic and sliced chillies to the curry and cook for a further few minutes, then stir in the ground coriander.
  12. Serve with the pineapple and onion salad, rice and freshly baked naan breads.

You can of course adjust things as you see fit, adding more chillies if you like a real kick or reducing the number if you have people coming for dinner who don’t cope well with a bit of heat. There’s probably no harm in addind some diced carrots along with the sweet potato either. The sumac potion really adds to the tanginess of this curry and the pineapple salad helps cut through the richness of the pork. It works perfectly together as a complete dish and accompanied with rice and naan breads will easily serve 6.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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