The Konkani Love For Dukra Maas
Image Credit: Dukra Maas

Dukra Maas is a Konkani phrase (name) that loosely translates to ‘pork meat’ and may be used to describe either of two things, depending on the region in consideration: in the Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka, the term is almost exclusively used to refer to the dish ‘dukra maas’; in the state of Goa, ‘dukra maas’ denotes a whole class of Konkan pork dishes from sorpotel to vindaloo . The dish’s origins remain unclear, with most locals believing that it was first concocted in Mangalore when the city was under Portuguese colonial rule. Dukra maas is usually prepared on Sundays, and is almost always made at home. 

The preparation of the dish is a familial effort. Men go on grocery runs, the children chop the vegetables, and the women (usually supervised by the eldest woman in the family) prepare the dish itself. The pork gravy is primarily flavored with vinegar, and bafat pito (a masala made using toasted spices like byadagi chilies, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric powder, cumin and cloves.

It is a common sight to see the families of this region prepare the dish on Sundays after church. The dish is eaten with roti, boiled rice, or sannas (steamed rice cakes similar to idlis). Dukra maas is usually made to last the entire week, with connoisseurs claiming that it tastes better over time. The preparation starts with chopping the pork (curry cut, with the skin on) into bite-sized pieces. One kilo of pork is enough to feed a family of four for a single meal. The meat is marinated for an hour with the bafat pito, or sometimes garam masala, during which the vegetables used for the preparations are chopped and sauteed, usually onions, garlic, green chili, and ginger. The preparation varies from household to household: some families marinate the pork with the vegetables and cook the whole mixture with the addition of water to achieve optimum consistency while others may sauté the vegetables before adding the meat. Flavorants such as tamarind, bay leaves, and vinegar are added to the mixture as soon as it starts to boil. The concoction is then cooked for two to three hours on a low flame. The dish is prepared in time for lunch or dinner.

The preparation is moderately spicy with a pronounced vinegary taste. It is a staple at religious functions such as baptisms, and the sacrament of the eucharist, among others. Dukra maas is also a favorite bar snack, with small portions of the dish served alongside beer or locally made ‘whisky’ (most local brews are made with molasses). The dish may also be made with pork offals, similar to Goan sorpotel. Dukra maas made in such a manner is called ‘Rakthi’ or ‘dukra maas rakthi’.

In Goa, the term ‘dukra maas’ is used to describe pork curries, vindaloo, sorpotel, bafat and the like. While the Goan preparations are quite similar to their canaran counterparts, the difference lies in the masala. Goan preparations use khola, or Kashmiri chilies, in place of byadagi and often omit the use of tamarind. Goan recipes call for palm or toddy vinegar as opposed to the mass produced white vinegar used in canaran pork preparations, and often feature endemic ingredients such as palm sugar and local spices. Dukra maas made in the Udupi district features a tamarind extract made by soaking dried tamarind in a glass of water. Mangalorean households prefer to use tamarind paste as opposed to extract. Konkans in the Udupi district also consider dukra maas and pork bafat to be two different dishes, with bafat being devoid of any vegetables, relying solely on the bafat pito and acidifying agents like tamarind  and vinegar. In Mangalore, bafat and dukra maas are considered to be the same dish prepared with the addition of vegetables.

The dish is also prepared with wild boar. Interestingly, the hair is scorched over an open flame because the skin is left on. Preparations featuring wild pork are allowed to marinate longer and contain more vinegar to help tenderize the meat, which is considerably tougher as opposed to regular pork.