There’s no denying that these are good times for pork lovers, especially with beef cut out of an entire state’s diets. Despite a huge portion of our population’s disdain for the fatty, juicy, delicious (ok we’d better save the adjectives) meat, it doesn’t mean that certain cuisines here don’t know what to do with pork. In fact, there are pockets of the country that are positively overflowing with porcine pleasures and we happen to have sussed a lot of them out.
You may have thought your options began and ended with a few strips of crispy bacon or a messy burger at your favourite deli around the corner, but between the North East, Mangalore, Coorg and more, it was actually close to impossible to narrow down this list. So no matter whether the pork’s brined, blanched, peppered, fried, paired with bamboo shoots, egg yolk, spicy curries or more; or whether it’s the belly, jowls, heart or intestines that are up for grabs, all we know is that we’re doing the glorious pig some serious justice in India because the indigenous porky offerings across its length and breadth will have you pack your bags (or make restaurant reservations) before you reach the end of this story. Virtual traveling has never been this delicious so scroll on to get an expanded view of our favourite pork dishes around India.
[If pork isn’t part of your diet plan, we feel for you, we do. But maybe you’d be better off checking out Bombay’s Best burgers for different budgets. Seafood wouldn’t hurt either. Steaks? Okay, we’ll stop.]
I. Doh Nei Iong
Welcome to the first of Meghalaya’s many piggish delights. Though Dohneiiong is a staple part of their people’s typical diet and nothing too special for their spice-oriented palates, there’s nothing ordinary about its taste to the rest of us. Essentially a rich, thick gravy that slathers itself over fresh or smoked pork, the meat’s key ingredient happens to be one that’s quite unusual in most Indian cuisines—black sesame. Traditionally meant to appeal to a larger amount of people, it’s largely paired simply with a mound of white rice or ‘putharo,’ flattened steamed rice cakes, and that’s how we like it best too. If you’re looking for longevity in your belly satiation, you just found your pork calling.
Where to get it: Rosang Soul Food, Green Park Extension Market, New Delhi
Cost: For that transition from college pocket money to your first job @ Rs. 459
II. Kodava Pandi Curry
Cuisine: Coorg/ Kodava
Possibly one of the better known indigenous pork dishes on this list, Coorg’s spicy pandi curry has found a way into most food lovers’ hearts—mostly, through their stomachs. Despite the meat being a major delicacy in these southern parts, this one sort of stands out as the brightest star on the table. In fact, this writer can attest to most of her favourite sunday afternoon memories involving never-ending servings of the fiery curry filled with slightly chewy bits of meat and sudden surprises of Malabar tamarind and peppery bits, all at her Coorgi best friend’s dining table.
It’s normally eaten with ‘akki roti’ (rice roti) or ‘kadambuttu’ (rice dumplings), both the perfect accompaniment in their blandness because if there’s one thing this dish isn’t lacking, it’s flavour.
Where to get it: At specified Coorgi best friend’s house? [Friendly advice—if you really do have one of your own, make sure you grab yourself a bottle of pork pickle to take back home too.] Seriously though, Gunpowder Restaurant (Assagao, Goa) is your best bet.
Cost: We really need to move out of Mumbai @ Rs 150
III. Pork Laithaun
The Mangaloreans too, know how to respect their favourite four-legged friends and this dish in particular, is the perfect testament to that. Essentially a suckling roast pig, stuffed with a mixture of bread, raisins, nuts, liver, onion and spices. It is typically served with a side of fresh mustard and a soup made from the drippings. It’s difficult to write about when unable to spoon large chunks of it into your mouth so we’ll wrap it up with how it’s served—sliced up into little slivers of meat and fat. Hallelujah.
Where to get it: At a traditional Mangalorean wedding. Get yourself invited. Sorry, that’s the best we could do!
Cost: Free, we hope!
IV. Pork Vindaloo
Fun fact—Vindaloo and Sorpotel are actually Goan, East Indian, and Mangalorean but the only thing that separates them is the type of ‘bread’ they eat it with. Either way, if you’re a sucker for savoury-meets-sour goodness, Goans do it best with their oh-so-famous Vindaloos. A treatment that finds favour with just about any meat they apply it to, its pork version is quite possibly the most famous dish to come out of everyone’s favourite Indian getaway though.
Traditionally flavoured with chill, garlic and vinegar, it’s widely eaten in the Konkan region as well, often accompanied with Kadak pao or poi - a spongy, white and slightly sweet steamed rice and coconut bread. However, it can also be enjoyed with regular bread, rice or in a bun as a sandwich.
Where to get it: Bhatti Village Bar & Restaurant in Nerul is our personal favourite. But this is one of the easier ones to discover in just about any big city. Try Goa Portugesa in Mumbai or Viva O’ Viva in Delhi for the same.
Cost: Ridiculously underpriced at Rs. 150 (only in Goa though unfortunately)
V. Pork Indad
This is the kind of dish you want to pack generous mounds off into your steel dabba, fasten the lid, and then take it back home for gluttonous celebration for many weeks to come. Mostly because this is the ultimate traveller’s dish considering it is cooked to the point of preservation. The meat (traditionally, pork shoulder) is first salted, cooked for a long period of time and ultimately drowned in a good glut of rum at the end to ‘preserve’ the meat even more, which means it usually finds a way to brave even the toughest of tropical climate, and is actually the Mangalorean Catholic community’s go-to preparation of the meat. Besides, considering there are many dangers associated with eating pork that hasn’t been cooked well, this is probably the safest of all the delicious choices on this list.
As far as the taste goes, few meals take so much effort to ensure that the meat literally melts in your mouth while the sweet, sour and rummy flavours all mix together for the perfect, accompanying blend.
Where to get it: Mangalore Pearl in Bangalore makes a version that has us on our knees
Cost: Painfully affordable @ Rs. 140
VI. Pork Chilli, Mangalorean Style
Cuisine: One Guess
Technically an Indo-Chinese dish we’d all wolf down without a second thought, this Mangalorean twist version takes the otherwise familiar to new heights of mouth-watering complexity. It’s not a commonly made affair at every household but it’s almost a given that this spicy, crunchy pork snack will make its way onto any Mangalorean wedding menu. Bonus Tip: If you’ve really spent a lot of time being kept well, insist on taking a bottle of Pork Pada (pickle made out of salted/brined pork that is sun dried before the pickling process). We can vouch for its incredible drunken/hangover remedy properties when paired with nothing but a slice of bread or roti.
Cost: You’ll want more and you won’t feel guilty ordering it either @ Rs. 180 for a single bowl.
VII. Pork Patot Diya
This is the kind of dish that might make you seriously question why India continues to marginalise the North Eastern communities so much. I mean, not to trivialise the issue, but we need more of their dishes available all over the country! But before we let you take this politicisation of cuisine too seriously, allow us to introduce the scrumptious, glorious, Pork Patot Diya—pork at its absolute healthiest best.
This is an impossibly tender plate of pork that has been baked in Banana leaves, much like many Bengali fish preparations and as such, infuses the few spices and flavours they lightly rub into the mix while preparing it. It’s definitely one of the most unusual menus on this list, but it’s definitely earned its stripes as far as taste goes.
Where to get it: Gam’s Delicacy Restaurant, Guwahati.
Cost: One of the more expensive dishes for this menu, but still so cheap at Rs. 260!
VIII. Pork Fry, Assamese Style
Cuisine: Let’s put your observation skills to the test
More than a few people we spoke to while researching this list attested to the fact that this was their absolute favourite pork dish in India, which is odd considering Pork doesn’t actually feature all that much in traditional Assamese cuisine but if you’ve been lucky enough to sample it, you already know why. For the not-so-lucky others however, this is our best attempt at describing it to you.
The ingredients and preparation has all the makings of a willing porcine formulae. Lots of green chillies, ginger, fried onions and little potatoes, toss along for a little over an hour in a wok with different cuts of pork, chopped up into cubes, post being marinated in some salt, pepper, crushed garlic and finer, and some red chill powder. Traditionally, the spicier and crunchier it is, the better so this isn’t a dish for the weak-hearted. The potatoes end up being cooked in all the fatty oils so every part of this dish is gloriously infused with that smoky meat flavour everyone reading this far craves incessantly.
Cost: Someone fly us to Guwahati already at Rs. 220
IX. Pork Jadoh
A regular feature in the traditional cuisine of Meghalaya (garo, khasi and jaintia tribes all have different preparations but the end result is mostly similar to an outsider) this is the kind of dish that begs involvement. Whatever your preferences, heavy or light, tender or tough, you can’t really go wrong with this long lost, far more attractive cousin of the Biryani. Using minimal oil or extra flavours, this is a simple dish wherein the short-grained/red-hill rice is cooked in pork blood (blood, not broth ) and then packed with loads of juicy meat cuts for good measure. The accompaniments that go with it are just as delicious if your palate is ambitious - ‘Doh saw dkhot,’ a medley of intestines, liver, and kidney or ‘Doh khlieh,’ boiled succulent meat from the pig’s head, combined with ginger, chillies and pig brain. Jadoh is a wildly popular delicacy over here and we’re really hoping it starts making an appearance all over the country pretty soon. The only thing that comes close to this level of satisfaction is the Goan sausage (chorizo) pulav, but we’ll get to that later.
Where to get it: Make it yourself, or yeah, you’re really going to need that Khasi friend’s invite and it’s unlikely you’ll be so nice, they’ll invite you twice.
Cost: One inch of your waist-line, probably
X. Pork Ema Datshi
Cuisine: Technically, Bhutanese, but it’s made its war to the North Eastern Belt of India.
Oh Bhutan, you’ve given us momos, you’ve given us thukpa and you’ve given us that delicious butter tea and now you go ahead and one up yourself by giving us this gorgeous combination of sliced pork in a rich, cheesy soup? We don’t know why you’re so kind to us, but you deserve to be acknowledged for it.
This is one of the most exotic Himalayan dishes who lovingly refer to it as ‘churu,’ or rotten cheese soup, given the fact that it’s made from fermented yak’s milk. Given its unusually strong flavours (making it a love it or hate it dish), this cheesy soup with tender slices of pork is usually paired with something starchy like potatoes/rice, a little radish, or even scooped up with some ‘sengkong’ (a mound of steamed and boiled millet flour) but if you, like us, are obsessed with it the second you take a bite, you’re unlikely to bother with anything but the main affair once you dig in to all the mega-hot, stinky goodness. The pairings are just an added bonus.
Where to get it: Yeti, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi
Cost: Considering you’re not going to get this ANYWHERE else, man up and empty your wallet of at Rs. 295.
XI. Smoked Pork
This Naga delicacy could have probably populated a good proportion of this list just by itself. Traditional Naga kitchens being outdoors (mostly because so much of their cooking uses fire as one of the most important components of the flavours itself) you will always find strips of meat, beef or pork, hanging above them, allowing the smoke and air to slowly dry it out over time. And we’re not talking just a few hours or days even, this process is allowed to continue for a period of weeks, and even longer sometimes but the long wait is always worth it. Once the meat is ready to be consumed, hungry onlookers can eat it just as it is with a little bit of hot rice or enjoy its jerky-like consistency in a stew which infuses all the intensely delicious smokiness too.
Basically, labelling it too good to be true wouldn’t be a stretch.
Cost: A whole lotta love and appreciation
XII. Pork with Bamboo Shoot (Estuk)
There are many, many version of this smoked pork curry with fermented bamboo shoot, popular in Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur, owing to the fact that people from this belt have a particular fondness towards fermented foods. The key ingredients of this dish are self explanatory - smoked meat and fermented bamboo shoot. This pork curry is usually completed with a substantial dose of naga chili and once in a way, fermented soya bean substitutes the bamboo shoot, just to mix it up. It’s one of the more exotic dishes on this list though but we promise it’s entirely sumptuous.
Where to get it: Rosang Café, New Delhi
Cost: Considering it’s not a commonly available dish, beggars can’t be choosers @ Rs. 399
XIII. Goan Sausage
Cuisine: Maybe we should have skipped this bit
This one’s a contextual favourite. It’s sort of impossible to crave this slightly sour, always spicy Indian chorizo without conjuring up images of a cold King’s beer and golden sand beneath your feet. Not to mention that hunk of Poi (local Goan bread) you keep ripping up to dip into all the flavourful oil, replete with fried onions, chillies and potatoes—the best preparation of goan sausage simply isn’t complete without these additions. So yeah, that downs you make when you bite into a mouthful of juicy goan sausage? That’s the soundtrack for the beginning of party season.
Where to get it: Just about any Goan cafe does it well but Mum’s Kitchen in Panjim is a little extra special. Maybe it’s because we know there’s a lovely Goan mama behind its recipe.
Cost: We’re not sure about the individual cost but a meal for 2 weighs in @ Rs. 1500 (for a huge feast, no less) and we’re willing to bet that the sausages won’t be anywhere over Rs. 250.
XIV. Goan Sausage (Chorizo) Pulav
Cuisine: Open Wide and Go ‘Aaah.’ (Sorry, pork makes our puns terrible.)
And then there’s its pulav (biryani) version, the soundtrack for your morning after, or late afternoon brunch, when you’re completely partied out and all you need is a wholesome, one-dish meal that’s going to put your right back to sleep once you’re done. Honestly, this might not be quite as exotic as the rest of the elements on this dish, but it’s become such a comfort that we’re willing to go as far as to cite it deserving of top 5 status.
Where to get it: Almost any shack in Goa gets it right. But again, Mum’s Kitchen is extra special.
Cost: Usually cry-worthy at their sheer generosity at less than Rs. 150. Mum’s Kitchen might be a tad more at approximately Rs. 300
XV. Pork Sorpotel
Cuisine: Well, Goans do love their pig
(The East Indians have their version which is just as delicious)
If you like pork and you like offal, almost nothing on this list will treat you better than a piled-high plate of sorpotel. The word sorpotel itself is derived from the Konkani word Soro, meaning alcohol/ liquor, thereby combining two of Goa’s guiltiest pleasure—porcine and alcoholic! One of the few concoctions on this menu to involve many underrated parts of the pig, right from the liver and shoulders, to heart, kidney and tongue, even if you’re not usually excited by offal, you will be by the time they’re done cooking it in pig’s blood, frying it off, adding all the extra condiments of flavour including ginger, garlic, chilies and plenty of vinegar. Soak up the extra curry in some sanna – a spongy, white and slightly sweet steamed rice and coconut bread—or just enjoy it with regular bread, rice or in a bun as a sandwich.
Cost: Start shelling it out at Rs. 250 a plate (but there are plenty of far cheaper, just-as-tasty options if you’re wiling to experiment.)
XVI. Pork Chops In Feni
Glazed or roasted, buttered or pan-fried, if you’re a fan of the westernised Pork Chop in all its glorious versatility, this Goan version is a class apart thanks to its marination in the local liquor of choice—feni—which just happens to be made from cashew nuts. All in all, this is a heart attack waiting to happen, but if the last tinge on your tongue is the slightly sweet feni lending itself to a beautiful cut of pork, you’re unlikely to mind.
Cost: Same places, same prices. You get the gist.
Probably one of pork’s most underused/ overlooked cuts, Goans aren’t known to waste any part of the pig when they know they can cook it to perfection and that’s exactly what they do to trotters, or pig’s feet. They’re happy to sautee it up with all the usual flavours of a vindaloo or a sorpotel but our favourite version is in their savoury pork stew with hints of coconut and a creamy texture. In other words, nirvana.
Cost: If we send them enough love do we get free food?
XVIII. Pork Chilly Fry, Kerala Style
Another indo-chinese favourite with an indigenous twist, it’s hard to choose between the assamese and kerala version but the latter does get its flavourings particularly right. So if you’re partial to traditionally south Indian spices as we are, this is the one you’ll be writing home about. What’s different? Kerala’s catholic community’s innovation when it came to a familiar dish, apparently, by which we mean coconut is tossed in along with the more expected green chillies, onions, ginger and garlic, not to mention that perfectly wonderful south Indian tadka that can never go wrong. Locally known as Panni Ularthiyathu, it’s a christmas time favourite and you’ll be wishing it was Christmas all year round by the time you’re done with your first round of these.
Where to get it: My Malayali aunt’s house but you’re not invited or there won’t be enough for me. Seriously though, stop off at St. Xavier’s college, Mumbai and make a Mallu Christian friend. Or here’s a pretty darned good recipe if you’re not too lazy.
Cost: A cab ride to Xavier’s from wherever you are?