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  • Philip Munda

Pork & Beans

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

If I had to pick one meal to eat for the rest of my life it would be Ashleigh's Pork and Beans. This is my absolute favourite meal in the world and I get butterflies every time I smell the smoked pork and curry flavours, mixed with the heated flour scent that I know signals Rotis, wafting down the hall.

The first time Ash made this for me she told me that she really loves this meal but she was not sure if it was something I would enjoy. She has never been so wrong. And that was just the first iteration of this bowl of heavenly goodness that is a centrepiece of our love. The initial version used a smoked pork fillet, and sugar beans and had no tomatoes. Anyone who knows me well knows that once I've found a favourite thing I hate deviating from that version of it but Ash decided to ignore my cries for stability (thankfully) and innovated; the version we eat today uses a smoked pork shank (the bone adds so much flavour), butter beans (who doesn't love a bean) and a tin of tomato that increases the amount of sauce and also adds acidity to the curry making the flavour that much more wonderful and complex.

This is a dish that Ashleigh's grandmother made for her all the time growing up and is a staple in their family. It's become a running joke about how much I love this humble home dish but my shared love of it has been part of why I've felt so accepted into my new family. I hope you try it and develop a tradition around it of your very own.

Time: 3 hours

Serves: 4-6

Difficulty: Easy


  • 1 smoked pork shank or smoked ribs about 500g with the bone

  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (freshly cracked)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 stalk of curry leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon of yellow mustard seeds

  • 2 cloves

  • 4 green cardamom pods, cracked

  • 1 onion finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon each of minced garlic and ginger

  • 2 1/2 heaped teaspoons of curry powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

  • 4 x 400g tin of butter beans

  • 1 x tin chopped tomatoes

  • salt and pepper


If you are using a pork shank (eisbein) :

  1. Firstly, take the smoked pork shank and coat in olive oil, season liberally with salt and pepper and roast for 1 hour in 180 degree preheated oven.

  2. Once the shank is cooked, remove it from the oven, let cool till you can touch it, and roughly cut into chunks leaving some on the bone.

The curry:

  1. Add the vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat in a deep pot. Fry cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, curry leaves and bay leaves for about 2 - 5 minutes. You will know it is ready when the seeds begin to 'dance' in the oil.

  2. While the spices are frying, chop the onion and add it to the pot and let cook for 10 minutes. The onion must be soft, translucent and just starting to brown. If it is sticking add some water to deglaze.

  3. Next, add the garlic and ginger and let cook for about 2 minutes.

  4. Add in the ground spices - cumin, coriander, turmeric and curry powder - and let cook for 3-5 minutes before adding the tin tomatoes.

  5. Add in the pork chunks and bone (or ribs that have also been cut into pieces) and mix until well coated in the onion and tomato mixture. Season with a teaspoon of salt, lower the heat and let cook for 20 minutes.

  6. Strain the beans and rinse before adding them to the pot and cover with 1.5 cups of water or until just submerged. It should look like a soup. Season with another teaspoon of salt.

  7. Cover and place in a 160 degree C oven and let cook for 2-3 hours. Check the pot every hour to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom and that it has enough liquid. If it's looking a bit dry add more water and stir.

  8. The meat should fall off the bone. At this point, I like to gently remove the meat from the bone and place it back in the pot and discard the bones.

  9. Taste and season with salt and pepper

Serves with rice or roti and a carrot salad!

Happy eating


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