Pork and Pumpkin Stew

Wak Gominda with basmati rice.

Gominda Wak with basmati rice.

Perfect for an autumn meal: this is Gominda Wak (literally: “pumpkin pork,” also sometimes “Wak Gominda”), a hearty traditional stew from the Garo people in northeastern India. It’s a wonderful pork and squash dish that I was introduced to by my Garo friend, who helped prepare it here. It’s surprisingly simple – only 5 ingredients!

Wak Gominda ingredients.

Wak Gominda ingredients.

Ingredients, here for 6-8 generous servings:

  • Boneless pork; here we used about 3 pounds pork loin; a marbled pork roast might be preferred; it need not be this lean.
  • Pumpkin or other squash, a couple pounds; we used about 2/3 in total of the acorn, butternut, and buttercup squashes shown.
  • Chilis, e.g., 8-10 of the thai chilis shown here.
  • Baking soda, about 1/2 teaspoonful.
  • Salt, to taste.
  • Basmati rice, to accompany the stew when serving.

To prepare:

First, rinse, peel, and remove seeds/guts from squash to prepare it for cubing.
I do not endorse my friend’s peeling technique! Use a vegetable peeler if you can. :)

Peel the squash.

Peel the squash.

Cut the pork into large bite-sized pieces, trimming any gristly fat, but leaving some fat for cooking.

Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces.

Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces.

In a large pot, beginning cooking the pork pieces over medium-low heat with fat or oil, as necessary to keep it from sticking.

Begin with the cubed pork, over medium-low heat.

Begin with the cubed pork, over medium-low heat.

Cover the pork, simmering over low heat, stirring occasionally until fat renders and some water is released and cooked until white, i.e., at least mostly cooked through.

Simmer the pork, covered.

Simmer the pork, covered.

While pork is cooking, remove the chili stems and cut the chilis lengthwise, just once so that their seeds can be released and they will disintegrate while cooking.  Also, cube the squash.

Baking soda and sliced chilis.

Baking soda and sliced chilis.

Once the pork is cooked, add the soda and chilis, then stir.

Add baking soda and chilis to cooked, stewing pork.

Add baking soda and chilis to cooked, stewing pork.

Next, add the squash and a bit of salt, and then stir, so that meat is no longer on the bottom (to prevent burning).
Increase heat to medium or medium-low, then cover and stir occasionally.

Add cubed squash to pork mixture.

Add cubed squash to pork mixture.

When lightly boiling in the water released from pork and squash, reduce to low heat and simmer slowly, perhaps 1/2 hour, until squash is soft enough to disintegrate.
If necessary, add water sparingly, so that it boils but remains somewhat thick in consistency.

Pork and pumpkin stewing.

Pork and pumpkin stewing.

Stir and use a spoon to squash any whole squash cubes. Taste for spiciness (it will likely be quite spicy with 8-10 thai chilis) and salt, and adjust as you like.

You’re done!  Serve over basmati rice and enjoy!

Pork and Pumpkin Stew served over basmati rice.

Pork and Pumpkin Stew over basmati rice.

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