Slow-cooked pork with pumpkin


The largest pig I have ever seen was in Burma; she was over six feet long, about half as wide, and had seven tiny piglets, each one no bigger than their mother’s nose. You see pigs wherever you go and pork is often cooked at home in stews and hotpots. This is a memory of a comforting, flavourful dish we enjoyed in 1981. The flavour is better still if you cook the dish the day before and reheat it. Rather than use preparation-intensive tamarind pods, buy a jar of smooth tamarind purée, available in Asian shops and some supermarkets.


  • 2 large onions
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • walnut-sized piece fresh root ginger
  • 750 g boneless pork
  • 3 level teaspoons soft brown sugar
  • 300 g piece skinned, deseeded pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 level teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 rounded teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 300 ml water
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce


Peel, quarter and thinly slice the onions. Peel the garlic and chop finely. Peel the ginger and slice into thin slivers. Cut the pork into 3 cm pieces and sprinkle al, over with the sugar. Slice the pumpkin flesh into roughly equal-sized pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the groundnut oil in a fairly large flameproof casserole over a medium heat. Add the sugared pork and stir around quickly until browned all over, then remove the pork and leave on one side.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the casserole, add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft and richly browned. Now stir in the garlic, ginger, chilli powder and turmeric and cook, stirring, for another minute. Remove from the heat, return the pork to the dish and add the pieces of pumpkin.

Heat the oven to 150°C/Gas 2. Measure the water in a jug and stir in the soy sauce, tamarind purée and peanut butter. Pour into the casserole dish, stir and cover. Bring up to bubbling on top of the stove and then place on a low shelf in the oven for 2-2½ hours until the pork is very tender.

Taste for seasoning and add more chilli and a little more soy sauce if needed. Before serving, roughly chop the coriander leaves and stir them into the dish.