Pork Meatball Vindaloo With Pearl Couscous Recipe

Sunday Supper

Cooking projects for people who'd like nothing more than to spend a sunday afternoon surrounded by the wonderful aromas of the kitchen.

Pork Meatball Vindaloo With Pearl Couscous Recipe

Pork meatballs are simmered in fragrant vindaloo sauce and served with couscous pearls. [Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

This vindaloo is made with pork meatballs, an array of peppers, juicy tomatoes, and a finishing sprinkle of cilantro. Serve it with pearl couscous, which stands up nicely to the bold sauce.

Why this recipe works:

  • Homemade vindaloo paste serves as the fragrant foundation for a tomato-based Indian curry.
  • Meatballs are simmered in the sauce, which helps keep them tender and allows them to soak up some of the vindaloo's flavors.
  • Pleasantly chewy, large-pearl couscous is an ideal substitute for rice, offering just the right "bite."

Note:This dish can be prepared a day in advance. Gently simmer the meatballs in the sauce on the stovetop over a medium-low flame to reheat, then finish with the fresh cilantro just before serving. For an even quicker, easier meal, substitute storebought vinadloo pasta, starting with 4 tablespoons and adding more to taste.

  • Yield:Serves 4
  • Active time: 35 minutes
  • Total time:1 hour


  • For the Spice Base:
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, lightly toasted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 8 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • For the Meatballs:
  • 3/4 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • For the Vindaloo:
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked pearl couscous, for serving
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves and tender stems


  1. 1.

    For the Vindaloo Base: Using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind cumin seeds, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, fenugreek seeds, and black mustard seeds until fine. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in cinnamon, turmeric, chile powder, salt, brown sugar, and vinegar.

  2. 2.

    Heat vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until browned and crisp around the edges, about 12 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time until a paste forms. Transfer to bowl with spice mixture and stir to combine.

  3. 3.

    For the Meatballs: In a large bowl, combine bread cubes and milk and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain bread, squeezing it dry. Discard milk. Place bread in the bowl and thoroughly distribute and combine with pork, egg, garlic, and lemon zest. Season with salt. Using wet hands, form mixture into 10 golf-ball-sized balls.

  4. 4.

    For the Vindaloo: Warm about 4 tablespoons of the Spice Base in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add canned tomatoes with their juices and stir to combine. Add additional vindaloo paste and season with salt, if needed. Gently nestle meatballs into sauce and simmer, basting periodically with sauce, for 10 minutes. Gently stir in red and yellow bell peppers, jalapeño, and grape tomatoes. Continue cooking until vegetables are just tender and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes longer.

  5. 5.

    Serve with couscous, sprinkling cilantro on top.