Nigel Slater's baked pork with cardamom, ginger and yogurt; rice and lentil, and lychee sorbet recipes (2024)

Following a spicy main course with something cold, sweet and refreshing always works for me. Earlier this week I made a marinade for a baked fillet of pork that was not so much hot as imbued with an earthy warmth, followed by a water ice of tropical fruit. I used a yogurt-based marinade that gets its mild temperature from ground coriander, turmeric and cumin, with a pinch of ground cayenne. The result was on the lower reaches of the heat scale, yet the smell from the oven as it baked, the spiced yogurt forming alight crust around the meat, made me glad I'd put something fruit-based in the freezer for afterwards.

In the oven, a yogurt-based marinade forms its own sauce made up of the seasoned whey and tiny coagulated nuggets of cooked yogurt. It is this last quality that puts some people off, but there is nothing unusual about that particular texture in, say, Indian cooking.

After a main dish shot through with spices, I don't want a tastebud-blasting blackcurrant or grapefruit sorbet. A water ice made from pear, green apple or pomegranate would be perfect. Seasonal, too. But this week I found something even subtler: the mild, almost ethereal notes of the lychee.

I am not sure it is worth cooking with a lychee. The flavour is easily lost once you introduce other ingredients. For my sorbet I used aless-concentrated sugar and water mixture than normal, so that the sugar didn't interfere. The only addition was a splash of lime juice.

Though I got my box of lychees from the local greengrocer, I often catch sight of them arriving in Chinatown; thousands of fawn and pink fruits in grey wicker caskets the size of washing baskets. In their rough coats, there is nothing to hint at the subtle delights within. Removing their peel – the underside is almost pearlescent – is a pleasing task in itself, but for a sorbet you could use the canned variety. The flavour is less fleeting, less floral and the sugar syrup makes the water ice sweeter, but it does save half an hour. As always, up to you.


I used a large pork fillet for this, but I am keen to try it with thick chops, too, or maybe even a boned pork belly. There is nothing to stop you doing it with other meats as well if pork is not your thing. Try acouple of lamb fillets. Serves 4.

pork fillets 2, weighing about 350g each
lemon juice of ½
fresh ginger 40-50g
garlic 2 large cloves
natural yogurt 200ml full fat
cumin seeds 2 tsp
coriander seeds 2 tsp
green cardamom 10 pods
cayenne 1 tsp
ground turmeric 1 tsp
onion 1, medium sized
groundnut, vegetable or rapeseed oil 2 tbsp

Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl. Peel the ginger then grate it almost to a purée and mix into the lemon. Grind in a little pepper.

Peel and crush the garlic to a paste, then stir it into the lemon and ginger, together with the yogurt.

Put the cumin and coriander seeds into aspice mill or grind to a coarse powder with a pestle and mortar then add to the yogurt mixture. Break open the cardamom pods, discard the green shells and grind the black seeds to a coarse powder. Stir into the yogurt with the cayenne and turmeric.

Put the pork fillets into a baking dish and pour in the spiced-yogurt mixture. Turn the pork over so it is nicely coated then cover with clingfilm and leave in a cool place for acouple of hours – overnight won't hurt.

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Peel and finely slice the onion into rings. Warm the oil in a pan, add the onions and cook for 7-10 minutes until soft. Remove the film from the pork, turn the fillets over in their marinade and scatter the onions and oil over the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the onions and pork are golden. There will be a little lightly curdled juice around the meat. Cut it into thick slices and serve with the rice dish below, spooning the juices from the dish over as you go.


I usually opt for brown basmati, for the homely, nutty smell it produces as it putters away on the stove; but for mixing with lentils I go for the quicker-cooking white version. Serves 4-6.

basmati rice 350g
small brown or green lentils 150g
onion 1, medium sized
groundnut or other mild oil 3 tbsp
cinnamon 1 short stick
green cardamom 6 pods
cloves 2
bay leaves 2
black peppercorns 6

Wash the rice in cold water and drain. Rinse the lentils. Peel and finely slice the onion into rings.

Warm the oil in a medium-sized pan to which you have a tight-fitting lid. Drop in the cinnamon stick, lightly crushed whole cardamoms pods (crack them with a heavy weight before adding), the cloves, bay leaves and peppercorns. Stir in the onion and leave to soften for 10 minutes or so.

Once the onion is soft, add the rice and lentils. Season with a large pinch of salt and pour in just enough water to cover by 2cm or so. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down to a simmer then cover tightly with a lid. Leave over a low heat for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to rest, with the lid on, for 10 minutes. Serve with the pork above.


If using canned lychees, you will need a400g can and its syrup. It will be good, but less delicate than if you peel your own fruit. Serves 4.

lychees 500g
sugar, granulated or caster 100g
water 400ml
lime juice 2 tbsp
to serve:
lychees 250g

Peel the lychees and put them in a pan. Tip in the sugar and water and bring to the boil. As soon as the liquid is boiling and the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat and leave to cool. Pop the stones out of the fruit. Discard the stones and return the flesh to the syrup. Add the lime juice to the lychee flesh and syrup. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator then blitz in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Pour the mixture into an ice-cream machine. Peel some reserved lychees. Scoop the soft-frozen sorbet into elegant glasses, add the fresh lychees and serve.

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Nigel Slater's baked pork with cardamom, ginger and yogurt; rice and lentil, and lychee sorbet recipes (2024)


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