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Aug 5, 2011

Pork Ribs Curry

I have an aunt who just cannot take coconut milk. Not that she doesn't like the taste, she somehow gets a tummy ache every time she takes it .... kinda like lactose intolerance,... you get the picture. But she, being a true nyonya, loves her curries and chillies too much to give up on them. I'm not too sure of my facts, but I believe she came up with this recipe all by herself and it became a great family favorite.

The die-hard nyonyas will have my head for cooking a curry in a slow cooker. Yes, I agree the aroma from the saute-ing of the ground ingredients may be lacking but I still think it tastes pretty good. You can always add in this step if you're a nyonya die-hard. Me, I'm a save-some-time

die-hard. Well, perhaps that might not be too true either, since there are periods when I'd do recipes "from-scratch". Fickle minded, that's me. But for now, it's save-some-time curry.


500 g pork soft ribs / short ribs

8 - 10 fresh red chillies (this can be adapted to your preference)

4 onions, cut into wedges / 10 shallots (the more onions the thicker the gravy)

1/4 cup tamarind paste plus enough water to make about 1/2 cup thick juice

1/2 - 3/4 tbs shrimp paste granules / belacan granules

1/2 tbs pork stock granules (you can use chicken stock as well)

1/2 tsp sugar or to taste

1 cucumber, halved length-wise and then cut into wedges

soy sauce, to taste


If you prefer a less spicy curry, remove the seeds and white membranes of half the amount of the red chillies.

Add these together with the onions / shallots, tamarind juice and shrimp paste granules in a blender or food processor. At this point, it's up to you if you prefer your curry to have a smooth or coarse texture. Puree the mix until the desired consistency. (We prefer it to be not overly smooth).

[Should you decide to saute the paste for that authentic nyonya-ness, heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a pan and saute the paste for a minute or so until fragrant. But you might need to add a little extra liquid (tamarind juice/water, about 1/4 cup) in the slow cooker as the paste would be drier.]

Plonk ground chillies mixture and pork ribs into a slow cooker. Add in stock granules and stir to mix. You don't need to add any additional water (unless the paste was sauteed) as the juices from the meat and eventually the cucumbers will make it just perfect. Cook on high for about 3 hours.

Taste to see how much sugar or soy sauce you need to add in and also if you need to add more tamarind juice** if it's not tart enough. Toss in the cucumber wedges and cook for another hour or 2 or until the cucumbers are soft but not mushy*.

*Note: My aunt likes to add the cucumbers right at the beginning since she likes it all soft and mushy. I like mine with a little bite.

** The tartness depends a lot on each batch of tamarind. Adjust to taste.

Serve with fluffy white rice.


  1. I absolutely love pork curry. Adding cucumber sounds unusual to me since I have never seen nor tried cucumber in a curry. Since this is a tried and tested recipe I am sure it works well. I am just curious about cucumber.

  2. I think my comment disappeared. I was saying I absolutely love curries. However I have never seen nor tried cucumber in a curry. Since this is a tried and tested recipe I am sure it works, but I am still curious about cucumber sneaking in.

  3. I only eaten ribs either steamed or barbecued... never in a curry... Sounds really good! I love the addition of the cucumber... I looked at the picture, and I thought you had used watermelon rind :)With the tamarind and the chilies, this sounds really flavorful & delicious! Thank you for sharing :)

  4. Hi Ping, new to your site and loving it. This recipe especially looks delightful! Thanks so much for sharing... can't wait to have more of a look around. I'm now also following you on Twitter.

  5. I fully support using a crock pot! It's great for a working wifey. You just put the food in in the morning and when you come home your house smells fantastic :) Great recipe! Buzzed

  6. 3Cookies: Nope, both comments are here :D The cucumber surprisingly works very well in this. I doubt it'll work as well had there been any coconut milk in it. It's actually my mum's favorite part of this dish.

    Harried Cook: Haha! Now that you mentioned it ... yeah, it does look like watermelon rind. Hmm, they do use that in soups (the rind), I wonder if it'll work here? Now you've got me thinking. The pork gives the curry a natural sweetness ... too lean pork doesn't work as well.

    Kate: Hi! Thanks for following and I checked out your blog as well and will be plonking myself onto your followers list .... not too savvy with twitter. Love your stuff!

    Parsley Sage: Yesss ... we should start a Crock Club ... no, that doesn't sound quite right ... a Crockpot Club. It's such a lifesaver for me.

  7. I am not a big fan of coconut cream/milk too, especially not to the level of Malaysian love of coconut things. But chili is a must for an Indonesian/Korean at heart & gene like me ;P

    It's a great idea to just dump everything in a slow cooker in the morning and awesome dinner at nite, but yeah I would fry off the paste like a 'Nyonya' ;)

  8. Here I am Ping...via Foodbuzz! Just buzzed you, and I'm absolutely loving your curry ribs, although I've never had it with curry, I can imagine how tasty, and tender it is. The color is spectacular.
    Thanks for sharing, my dear friend:DDD

  9. PFx: Hey Pierre! Hmm .. maybe I should put that step in as an option. Yes, will do that ... thanks for the reminder.

    Elisabeth: Helloooo! Thanks so much for the buzz. I'm still such a dinosaur with fb, Not quite sure what the buttons do. I'm surprised my submissions appear at all :D But I think I'm getting there and have been buzzing folks ... well, at least I think I am. LOL Thanks for coming by!

  10. What a beautiful and original curry! I have never put cucumbers to any hot dish, not to mention a curry!
    For me your aunt is what I call a real gourmet: suffering a bit, but not refusing pleasures of the palate. I don't know your aunt, but I already adore her :-) I also do this sometimes with the food which makes me suffer afterwards. Although, luckily, I don't have problems with coconut milk. (Now I am wondering why I always make curry with chicken??? It must change!)

  11. Hi Sissi! My aunt will be tickled pink to be called a real gourmet and I will tell her she has a fan :D She's not in the best condition right now so this will really brighten up her day. Thanks!

  12. I love BBQ pork ribs and I love curry so combining the two should work for me.. I love this idea

  13. Culinary Lens: Thanks! Just so you can imagine the taste ... it's a sort of sweet and sourish curry ... if you like that kind of stuff.

  14. My picky hubby has sworn off curry, but I can still admire your yummy ribs!

  15. Im in for a crockpot club ;)

    No coconut milk! That makes me so sad! However, this recipe does look like a great way to deal with that and still enjoy curry.

  16. Hi Ping, I have tagged you. You can read more here:

    It requires a little bit of effort, not too much, and the outcome should be interesting. I hope you can manage to find time to participate otherwise its OK.

  17. My husband and I love anything curry! This pork ribs curry of yours looks so delicious, and the cucumber in it makes it so interesting to me coz I really haven't tried eating cooked cucumbers.

  18. Lizzy: Aww ... why? Hope it wasn't one bad experience that have turned him off.... or the heat of it. But thanks for appreciating the pic :D

    Kita: Coconut milk in curry is nice but there are many varieties here without using it ... kinda sweetish and sourish .... very non-indian style. It's quite appetizing.

    3Cookies: I will participate! Such a great idea! Thanks!

    Tina: Hello. This is quite different from the coconut milk curries ... not as rich and creamy. We do cook cucumbers in a number of dishes ... soups, fried with dried shrimp and some others.

  19. I don't eat pork, but I'd love to eat this curry with a whole lotta veggies!

  20. Tiffany: Hi! I guess it could work without the pork but then the flavors will definitely be quite different since the sweetness and richness of the pork juices won't be there. It's a great idea tho ... I'll have to try that out!

  21. Is it just coconut milk your aunt has the problems with? What about the flesh or the water? The ribs in the curry look amazing... like the spices have just infused right through them. Delicious!

  22. Charles: Hmm ... that's a good 2 questions. I'm not sure if she has problems with those. I just happened to find out about the coconut milk one day when she didn't want to eat the chicken curry someone brought over. I really should ask her when I see her one of these days.

  23. I have never cooked pork curry before. Since I love pork and I also love curry, this dish is really for me.

    1. Thanks for making this comment. I haven't made this for ages and now you've got me craving for it. Hope you try it out and like it too :)

  24. Just stumbled mum used to make this and she added "hum choy" ( pickled vegt) to it. Guess it can take the place of the tamarind and cucumber. The hum choy was always the best part of the dish!