Recipe: Pulled-pork vindaloo | The Japan Times

December 3, 2022 by No Comments

Indian cuisine doesn’t really need a champion. Still, it has one in Padma Lakshmi, an activist, television host and author of three cookbooks, including “The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs: An Essential Guide to the Flavors of the World.”

The championing of Indian food in Japan, however, has mostly been left to the few Indians who bring their culture with them when immigrating. I’ve always found it surprising that, despite religious ties dating back to the sixth century, there appears to have been a little culinary crossover between India and Japan — even Japanese curry came about via the British naval tradition.

However, as noted in Robbie Swinnerton’s September Tokyo Food File, “There’s a growing number of chefs offering spice-driven meals that draw their inspiration directly from the original wellspring of South Asia.” It’s exciting to think what kinds of crossovers have yet to come from this partnership, like the dishes being produced at Spice Lab Tokyo.

Reading of a similar partnership in “Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family” — Priya Krishna’s ode to her mother’s Texan-Indian fusion — I was inspired by the idea that dishes could be equal parts modern and traditional, incorporating slow-cooking methods and condiment pragmatism. Here mustard seeds and tamarind are replaced with grain mustard and vinegar.

Lakshmi wrote the foreword to “Indian-ish,” and while neither she nor Krishna eats much meat, this month I endeavored to combine American protein, Indian chhonk (an aromatic mix of spices cooked in fat), and soothing Japanese undertones to balance the spiced sour sauce. The result is fragrant and distinct from what is available on shelves, my own attempt at highlighting a traditional flavor profile using (mostly) readily available ingredients…


Serves 4, plus leftovers

Prep: 10 mins.

Cook: 90 mins.


  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil
  • 12 cloves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 6 green cardamom pods (split open)
  • 400 grams of stewing pork
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3-centimeter knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 500 milliliters water
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika or chipotle powder
  • ½ teaspoon asafetida (optional, but really great)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon grain mustard
  • 2 small red onions finely sliced
  • 2 large red peppers or 4 red piman, finely sliced
  • 100 grams of white sushi rice
  • 500 milliliters of water or stock
  • 5 grams butter


  1. Place rice, water, and butter in a rice cooker and set to cook on a 90-minute brown rice setting, stirring occasionally. This 1:5 thick okayu (congee) ratio is known as “zengayu.” However, feel free to serve it with any rice you like or even buttered noodles.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot or a pressure cooker and fry the cloves, cumin, and cardamom for a minute to create your chhonk.
  3. Add the pork to the pot and brown on both sides. Then add the garlic and ginger.
  4. When fragrant again, carefully pour in the water and vinegar.
  5. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 90 minutes until the meat is tender enough to fall apart. If you are using a pressure cooker, seal the lid and bring it to pressure, then turn it to low and boil under pressure for 45 minutes.
  6. Uncover the pot or turn off the pressure cooker (let the pressure release before opening — 10 minutes or so).
  7. Remove the meat to a bowl and pull it apart with two forks.
  8. Concurrently, without a lid, turn the uncovered pot to high and add the turmeric, smoked paprika, onion and red pepper. Cook on high to reduce to a sauce, about five minutes.
  9. Turn off the heat and return the meat to the sauce in the pot. Mix together.
  10. Serve in a bowl atop the rice with something green to garnish.
  11. Any leftovers make for a great bento or sandwich filling, or even cup noodle topping.

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