Prep time:

Cooking time: 2 hours

Total time:

Serves: 4


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1tbsp Uncooked Basmati Rice


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3tbsp Coriander Seeds


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2tbsp Cumin Seeds


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2tbsp Fennel Seeds


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7.5 cm Cinnamon Stick


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10 Green Cardamom Pods


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½tsp Black Mustard Seeds


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1.5tsp Fenugreek Seeds


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1tsp Black Peppercorns


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Vegetable Oil, for frying


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12 Pork Cheeks, trimmed of all fat and sinew


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1 Onion


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2 Garlic Cloves


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5cm piece of fresh galangal, peeled and roughly chopped


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Lemongrass stalk, roughly chopped


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3 Small hot green Chillies, sliced into rings


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6 Kaffir Lime Leaves


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10 Curry Leaves


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½tsp Ground Tumeric


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½tsp Chilli Powder


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800ml Coconut Milk


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250ml Water


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Juice of 1-2 Limes, to taste


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2-3 tbsp Liquid Palm Sugar, to taste


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2tbsp Fish Sauce, to taste


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Sticky Rice to serve

Paul Merrett creates Braised Pork Cheeks with Coconut & Lime Leaf

  1. First make the Sri Lankan-style curry powder. This can be done a few days ahead of the braised pork cheeks, and the quantities given here will provide more than you need, so store what’s left in an old spice jar. Heat a frying pan but don’t add any oil. Tip in the rice and toast until browned, but don’t let it over-colour or it will blacken. Transfer the rice to a plate and set aside to cool. Now do exactly the same with the spices: tip them all into the pan together and dry-roast them until they start to darken slightly. Your kitchen will smell like a tent at the Glastonbury Festival, but don’t worry. Transfer the spices to the plate with the rice and allow to cool. Mix the rice and the spices together and grind them to a powder in either an electric spice grinder or using a pestle and mortar.

For the braised pork cheeks:

  1. To make the braised pork cheeks, heat a casserole pot and pour in a little vegetable oil. Place the pork cheeks into the hot pan and sear until well coloured on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Don’t wash out the pan; just add a little more vegetable oil and carry on cooking.
  2. Chuck the onion, garlic, galangal, lemongrass and chillies into the pan. Allow everything to slowly sizzle away and caramelise slightly. This should take 10-15 minutes. Add the lime leaves, curry leaves, 2½ teaspoons Sri Lankan-style curry powder, the turmeric and chilli powder and stir. Pour in the coconut milk and the water and return the pork cheeks to the pan. Slowly bring the sauce up to a simmer and cook slowly for 1½ hours.
  3. Fish out a pork cheek and put it on a plate. If the meat is tender enough to cut easily with a spoon, the cheeks are ready. If not, return to the pan and continue to cook for a few minutes longer. Once the cheeks are cooked, remove them all from the sauce and set aside.
  4. Increase the temperature to high and bring the sauce to the boil. Continue to cook until the sauce has reduced a little, then pour through a sieve to remove all the bits. Return the pork cheeks to the sauce and either cool down and refrigerate until required or finish the sauce and serve up.
  5. When you are ready to serve, stir in the lime juice, palm sugar and fish sauce until you feel the taste is just right. Serve each person 3 pork cheeks and pour over some sauce. Serve with plain boiled sticky rice.

  • words:
  • pictures: Jan Baldwin

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