Spice-Crusted Pork Roast

Here is a recipe for a spiced pork roast which raises the question of what exactly the difference—if any—is between Indian cooking and cooking with Indian ingredients. I mean to say that this is not any sort of traditional Indian pork roast recipe. (Though, for all I know, it ends up approximating one made by a pork eating community somewhere in the country.) The ingredients aren’t all Indian either: there’s Sichuan peppercorn in the masala and the vinegars I recommend for making the paste that’s rubbed on the roast are either balsamic of Chinkiang black vinegar (affiliate link). Nonetheless, this falls squarely within an Indian flavour profile for me and we eat it happily alongside dal and other Indian vegetable sides—and also pulled apart and placed atop chapatis a la tacos. I’m not sure what to call it generically but it’s good. I make it in the slow cooker which adds the extra virtue of making it even easier.


  • Pork shoulder roast, 3 lbs or so, at room temperature
  • The following lightly toasted, cooled and ground to a coarse powder: 1 tspn black peppercorn, 1 tspn Sichuan peppercorn, 1 tspn coriander seed, 1 tspn cumin seed, 2 star anise, 5-7 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • 1 tblspn jaggery or brown sugar
  • Roughly 1 tspn each of freshly pounded ginger and garlic
  • Salt
  • Enough balsamic or other sweet vinegar to make a thick paste with the five preceding ingredients
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thickly sliced
  • 5-7 Thai chillies
  • 1 cup hot water


  1. Pat your roast dry with paper towels and make 5-7 deep slits on the two larger sides.
  2. Mix the roasted and ground masala with the haldi, sugar and salt and the pounded ginger and garlic and add enough balsamic vinegar a tblspn at a time to make a thick paste—it should not be pourable at all.
  3. Rub the paste all over the roast and into the slits.
  4. Place the sliced onion in your slow cooker or Dutch oven.
  5. Place the roast atop the sliced onion.
  6. Insert a Thai chilli into each slit on the top of the roast.
  7. Pour the hot water around the base of the roast.
  8. Close your slow cooker and turn on at the 8 hour setting.
  9. Check after 4 hours and then every 30 minutes thereafter till the pork is fork tender.
  10. Remove the pork carefully to a cutting board, slice or pull apart and serve with the onion gravy with steamed rice or neer dosas or chapatis/parathas.


  1. As you will readily see, this is a variation on the roasted pork shoulder I’d posted a recipe for in 2015. A slight difference in the masala, no potatoes here, a different cooking method: it all adds up.
  2. I made this with pork shoulder because that’s what I had. If you have some other cut of pork roast or a large loin, it should work just as well.
  3. I use a 50-50 split of mild Byadgi chillies and hotter dried chillies. With the peppercorn added in plus the green chillies it packs a decent kick anyway. You can scale the level of heat up or down to your liking without really affecting anything else.
  4. The cooking time is not very precise, I know. Slow cookers are not very precise things. You can also, of course, braise it on low heat on the stove-top or in the oven. This is one of those recipes where that maddening instruction, “cook till done” is what you have to go on.
  5. You could try adding orange juice in addition to or instead of the water. If you do, let me know how it turns out (I’ve thought about it but never done it).



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