Meet Your New Sunday Sauce: These Pork Meatballs in Cashew Curry Come Together in Under an Hour

Thickened with a touch of cashew flour, this velvety-smooth curry has big flavor. Milk-soaked bread keeps the meatballs light and fluffy.

Pork Meatballs with Cashew Curry

Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
55 mins
8 servings

A rich, velvety curry made with curry powder, fresh ginger, and a hint of pungent fish sauce gets spooned over seared pork meatballs in this simply delicious curry from Bryant Ng, chef and owner of Cassia in Santa Monica. Milk-soaked white bread, known as a panade, forms a paste and is mixed with ground pork to keep the meatballs juicy and tender.

The airy pork meatballs rely on pork belly for fattiness and flavor and a panade, a mashed bread and milk paste, for their ultra-soft and tender texture.“The key to a great meatball is the ratio of meat and bread, I love this recipe because the texture is not too soft, like meatloaf, and not too grainy or firm,” says Ng. 

One of the great things about this recipe is its versatility. “We serve this dish with our clay-oven bread (aka naan) at Cassia,” Ng says, “but it’s also great with rice, tossed with spaghetti (butter, Parmesan, and chopped cilantro), or on a hoagie roll.”

Frequently asked questions

What is pork belly?

Like the name suggests, pork belly is a cut of boneless meat that comes from the belly of a pig. It’s known for its fatty flavor that adds depth to a variety of dishes. 

Where can I purchase pork belly?

You can buy pork belly from most major supermarkets or specialty butcher shops. 

Notes from the Food & Wine Test Kitchen

Cashew flour, a sweet and nutty gluten-free flour, is available at specialty grocery stores or online at Serve these saucy meatballs with naan bread, spooned over cooked basmati rice, or try it on a hoagie roll.

Cooking techniques 

Applying heat to whole spices helps open up their fragrance and boosts their flavor. The same concept applies here by quickly sauteing store-bought curry powder making it even more aromatic. 

Suggested pairing

We recommend a full-bodied Central Coast Chardonnay like Ancient Peaks Paso Robles to complement the robust flavors of the aromatic curry and airy meatballs. 

Make ahead

Store any leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.



  • 3 (1/2-inch-thick) white bread slices (1 ounce each), crusts removed

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 2 pounds ground pork

  • 8 ounces pork belly, finely chopped

  • 3 medium shallots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 4 teaspoons)

  • 1 small Thai chile, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons fish sauce

  • 2 teaspoons white pepper

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil


  • 1 medium-size white onion, roughly chopped (about 2 1/4 cups)

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 2 tablespoons curry powder

  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (undrained)

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • 2 tablespoons cashew flour (see Note)

  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

  • Fresh parsley leaves and chopped unsalted raw cashews, for garnish


Make the meatballs

  1. Combine bread and milk in a shallow baking dish, and let soak 1 minute. Squeeze mixture to form a paste; set aside.

  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Pulse pork and pork belly in a food processor until finely chopped and well combined, 15 to 18 pulses; transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add bread paste, shallots, garlic, Thai chile, sugar, fish sauce, white pepper, salt, and chili powder, and stir until combined. Divide meat mixture into 1 1/2-ounce portions (about a heaping tablespoon each), and roll into balls. Arrange meatballs on prepared baking sheet. Cover and set aside at room temperature.

Make the curry

  1. Combine onion, garlic, and ginger in a blender, and process until smooth, about 15 seconds; set aside. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low; add curry powder, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in onion mixture, diced tomatoes, 5 tablespoons butter, cashew flour, fish sauce, and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, about 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Meanwhile, cook the meatballs

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, cook meatballs, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet, and repeat process with remaining meatballs. Transfer to preheated oven; bake meatballs until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 160°F, about 15 minutes. Divide meatballs among bowls. Stir cream and remaining 2 tablespoons butter into curry. Spoon curry over meatballs, and garnish with parsley and cashews.

Originally appeared in Food & Wine magazine, October 2023

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