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!
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.
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. :)
Cut the pork into large bite-sized pieces, trimming any gristly fat, but leaving some fat for cooking.
In a large pot, beginning cooking the pork pieces over medium-low heat with fat or oil, as necessary to keep it from sticking.
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.
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.
Once the pork is cooked, add the soda and chilis, then stir.
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.
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.
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!
That looks fabulous! Perfect for fall. What’s the baking soda for?
Hi Mimi! I believe the sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is primarily a tenderizer but also affects the flavor. It is especially typical in Garo recipes where I’ve also seen it used with dry fish.
Some western recipes that use it as a tenderizer wash it off though.
Here’s an interesting post on another WordPress blog: https://kobikitchen.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/what-is-bicarbonate-of-soda/
thanks – i’ve only heard about using it in beans, which i’ve never done.