Spice-glazed Goan-style ham

Spice-glazed Goan-style ham

I Love India
Martin Poole

Family trips to Goa are becoming a bit of a regular event over the Christmas holidays; I like my children to spend time regularly in India, and Goa is my spiritual home there. I have eaten lots of Christmas pastries, curries and so on while there, but one of the most special dishes to eat at Christmas is a small roasted piglet, marinated in Goan spices. I have used the same spices to cook a Christmas ham and added an East-meets-West glaze that works so well (East-meets-West is actually a defining characteristic of Goan food). I have decorated the ham with flaked almonds instead of the customary cloves and I find the crunch works really well and makes the ham feel special in its own way.


Quantity Ingredient

For the ham

Quantity Ingredient
8 large garlic cloves
30g finely grated root ginger, (peeled weight)
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
5kg unsmoked, ready-soaked gammon joint, (ideally bone-in)
1 onion, sliced
1 dried indian bay leaf
2 black cardamom pods, (optional)

For the glaze

Quantity Ingredient
150g jaggery or light muscovado sugar
3/4 teaspoon roast and ground cumin seeds, see recipe note
2 rounded teaspoons see method for ingredients, (fresh if possible)
3 teaspoons finely grated root ginger, (peeled)
3 small garlic cloves, crushed
6 teaspoons dijon mustard
4 teaspoons worcestershire sauce, plus more if needed
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
large handful flaked almonds, (optional)


  1. Start with the ham. Blend together the garlic, ginger, vinegar and powdered spices until smooth.
  2. Place the gammon in a pot large enough to hold it comfortably. Add enough water to cover the joint. Bring to the boil, then skim off any scum that forms. Once the water is clear, add the spice blend, onion, bay leaf and black cardamom, if using. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes per 500g depending on your joint. In this case cook for 3 hours 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 68°C. Lift the ham out of the water and leave to cool for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, stir together the ingredients for the glaze. It should be thick enough to hold its form, but easily spreadable.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  5. Slice the skin but not the fat off the joint, using a sharp knife. Place in a roasting tray, adding about 2cm of the cooking liquor. Brush just over half of the glaze over the top and place in the oven. Bake for 20–30 minutes or until beautiful and golden, basting every 8–10 minutes or so with the pan juices. Sprinkle over the almonds and, once they brown, take out. Tent with foil and leave to rest as you make a light sauce.
  6. Heat up the rest of the glaze with a large splash or two of the roasting tray juices and bring to the boil. Allow to bubble, thicken a little and darken; it should be a bit thicker than a jus but not too thick. Taste and serve with the ham.

Roast and ground cumin seeds

  • Place the cumin seeds in a small dry frying pan over a medium heat and stir just until they turn a shade darker and smell aromatic. Remove and grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
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