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Slow-roast pork for South Indian flavor

Indian cuisine, with its panoply of spices, can be hard to replicate in American home kitchens.

A spice aficionado, I’ve scoured well-stocked Asian markets and co-op bulk sections for curry leaves to no avail. While I know I could order them online, I enjoy the thrill of the hunt — but then resign myself to making kootus and kormas without them.

The only defeat in the intrepid cook’s kitchen is to admit defeat and pass on a recipe for lack of a single, obscure ingredient. Although black tea is common in American households, it didn’t warrant a special purchase for food writer Gretchen McKay — a non tea drinker — for the purposes of this recipe. Leave it out, says the columnist for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. But do spend the time to source guajillo chiles from grocers’ Latin foods aisles and the fairly widespread spices listed here from bulk sections if you don’t want to commit to an entire jar.

Goan Pork Vindaloo should slow-roast for about two hours, so it make over the weekend and use the leftovers throughout the week. Or check out the lunch buffet at Medford’s Blue Royal Indian Cuisine, open daily.

Tribune News Service photo

Goan Pork Vindaloo

4 large dried guajillo chiles, wiped clean, stemmed, seeded and ripped into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick

6 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons black tea (from tea bags)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon each: cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon each: ground cloves, ground nutmeg

3- to 3 1/2-pound boneless pork butt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large onion, peeled and diced

1/3 cup cider vinegar

Combine the guajillos and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and microwave until steaming, for 90 seconds. Let stand until softened, for about 10 minutes.

While guajillos soften, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 F.

In a blender, process guajillo mixture with the ginger, garlic, paprika, cumin, tea, salt, pepper, cayenne (if using), cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg on low speed until a smooth paste forms, for 1 to 2 minutes. With blender still running, add 1/2 cup water. Increase speed to high and process for 1 minute. Add the pork to a large bowl, pour spice paste over and mix thoroughly.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and golden, for 7 to 9 minutes. Add pork mixture and stir to combine. Spread mixture into an even layer. Continue to cook until mixture begins to bubble, for about 2 minutes. Cover pot, transfer to preheated oven and cook for 40 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.

Cover and return pot to oven and cook until a fork inserted into pork meets little or no resistance, for 40 to 50 minutes.

Stir and serve with white rice, naan or soft white dinner rolls.

— Recipe from “The Complete Autumn & Winter Cookbook” by America's Test Kitchen (September 2021, $35).