Roasted Pork Shoulder with a Masala Rub

Masala Pork Shoulder
My normal tendency with pork shoulder is to cube it and do something vaguely vindaloo’ish with it (see here and here). On Sunday, however, I was feeling too lazy to cut the shoulder up and didn’t really want to stand over the stove on another hot day. And so, I decided to marinate the whole thing and bung it into the fridge for a day and deal with it on Monday, forecast to be a much cooler day. I am happy to report that the weather did not play me false and that the improvized spice rub worked out really well. I did overcook it a little bit—I don’t do whole roasts very often and when I do, I don’t like pulling things out of the oven to stick meat thermometers into them; I play it by feel instead and sometimes it goes a little bit over. Not the end of the world, and the more capable roaster (such as yourself) will have no trouble getting that part of it fixed to your satisfaction.

Anyway, on to the pork! 


  • Pork shoulder roast, bone-in, 3-3.5 lbs
  • The following ground to a coarse powder: 6-8 hot dried red chillies; 1 tspn black peppercorns; 1/2 tspn Sichuan peppercorns; 1/2 tspn cumin seeds; 1/2 tspn coriander seeds; a large piece of cinnamon
  • 1 heaped tablespoon’s worth of fresh ginger, crushed
  • 1 heaped tablespoon’s worth of fresh garlic, crushed
  • 1 tspn sugar
  • Enough apple cider vinegar to make a thick paste; say 8 tablespoons
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Kashmiri chilli powder or paprika
  • 1 large red onion, sliced (optional)
  • 2-3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced (optional)


  1. With a sharp knife (not that blunt one you were planning on using!) make a number of deep cuts on the pork.
  2. Make a thick paste with the ground spices (but not the Kashmiri chilli powder), crushed garlic and ginger, sugar and the vinegar and smear it all over the pork, taking particular care to work it into the slits. Leave a thicker coating on the top and bottom than on the sides.
  3. Place the marinated shoulder in a tupperware container or similar and place it in the fridge for 8-24 hours.
  4. Remove the container from the fridge one hour before cooking so as to let it return to room temperature. While this is happening pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.
  5. Place the marinated shoulder fat cap-side up into a cast iron pot (or roasting pan of choice) and pour any marinade in the container over it. Sprinkle the top and sides liberally with salt and then rub the Kashmiri chilli powder or paprika liberally over the top and sides.
  6. Place the cast iron pot/roasting pan in the center of the oven and roast for 1 hour.
  7. Then lower the heat to 300ºF and roast till done to liking (probably another 3-4 hours).
  8. If using the optional onions and potatoes, take the roast out at about the 3 hour mark, move it temporarily to another plate and line the bottom of the pot/pan with the potatoes and onions, taking care to turn them in the pool of deliciously spicy oil and roasted marinade at the bottom. Then place the roast on top of the veg. and return it to the oven when done.
  9. Remove to a cutting board and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
  10. Serve with steamed rice or parathas. Chholar dal on the side will be just lovely. So will a nice pot of beans.

Illustrated Guide


  1. I sliced it up for dinner last night but then pulled the rest apart for leftovers. You can always pull it apart to begin.
  2. If you find yourself compelled to make ersatz tacos with the pulled meat, go right ahead but don’t mention my name when talking about it with other people.
  3. The spice mix is very seat-of-the-pants. Feel free to experiment moving individual components up or down—I wouldn’t push anything too high though.
  4. If you have Chinese black vinegar around that will make a happy substitution for the apple cider vinegar. Balsamic will be a step too far in the sweet direction, I think, but if you use it let me know what you think.
  5. I do recommend adding the onions and potatoes—it is a fussier step but worth it in my opinion.
  6. The eagle-eyed observer will have noticed that the spice-mix here is very similar to the one I used for my “Red Pork” recipe. I hadn’t realized this till I linked it above.
You can put it on a chapati but don't call it a taco.

…you can put it on a chapati but don’t call it a taco.

Once you've pulled it apart...

Once you’ve pulled it apart…

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