Pork thiyal is an unctuous sour curry y in a light gravy with no coconut milk. The souring agent is goroka, the dried segments of the fruit of Garcinia gummi-gutta – a.k.a.gamboge – used as a souring agent in Sri Lanka and Southern Indian curries, particularly pork and fish curries. If you can’t get goroka you can substitute vinegar as in the recipe instructions. The sourness works brilliantly to cut the greasiness of the pork used – and please, do use fatty pork like ribs or belly.

Pork Thiyal

A tangy richly fatty pork curry
Course Main Course
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Keyword curry, pork, thiyal
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4


  • 500 gm pork You want plenty of good fat on the bone so ribs or belly are excellent. The thiyal has to be unctuous – that nice fatty texture..
  • 1 tsp red chillies You can use fresh or crushed dried or substitute a tsp of ground chillie powder
  • 50 gm brown or red onion or shallot
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 thin slices ginger
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds Optional if you can't get it
  • 6 pieces goroka (also called gamboge) If you can't find this use vinegar as described in the method below
  • water
  • salt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable or canola cooking oil


  • If you are using goroka soak the pieces in a bowl of water for 30 – 45 minutes before you began preparing the thiyal
  • Chop the pork into pieces about the size of the first knuckle of your thumb
  • Chop the fresh chillie into small pieces – if you are using a fresh one
  • Chop the onion into small pieces
  • Chop the garlic into small pieces
  • Chop the ginger into thin matchsticks
    spices prepared for using in pork thiyal
  • Pour three tablespoons of oil into a saucepan on the stove
  • Add the onion to the saucepan and saute till the pieces are very soft
  • Add the garlic and ginger to the saucepan and saute for a minute or two
  • Strip the leaflets off the sprigs of curry leaves and add them to the saucepan. Saute till the leaves wilt a little. Be careful – sometimes curry leaves will spit oil out of the pan as they cook
  • Add the turmeric powder and the fenugreek seeds if you are using the seeds, Stir the spices for a minute with a cooking or wooden spoon
  • Add all the pork into the pan and let it turn just from pink to brown. Stir the pork every now and then to mix the spices through it and brown it all over
  • Add the goroka and the water it was soaking in to the saucepan. If you are not using goroka, add two tablespoons of vinegar at this point
  • Add water into the saucepan enough to just cover the pork
  • Bring the mixture to the boil, cover with a lid
  • After about half an hour have a look into the saucepan and check how much liquid there is. If it is below the level of the pork, add water again to bring the level back to just cover the pork. You can also test a piece of pork to see how it is cooking. You want the pork to be tender. If it is let the added water heat up and mix it well with the pork and spices. Serve when the gravy is hot
  • If the pork isn't tender at 30 minutes, put the lid back on and cook for another 15 minutes and check again. You may have to do this a couple of times depending on the quality of the pork. You may also have to top up the water each time. When the pork is tender it's ready to serve