piatto di curry

Do you love curry dishes? Here is a Sri Lankan version!

Sri Lanka curry is different

You probably know the Indian curry mixture best. The most common is certainly the Curry Madras. In the supermarket, you will find mostly mild to medium-hot curry, while you will rarely find a very spicy one. Sri Lanka curry smells and tastes different, especially because the one used for meat is roasted. To make the curry spicier they use ground cayenne or chili flakes.

Curry is always a mixture of about 5 to 13 different spices.

Because it’s a mix, there are so many different kinds of it. Depending on what spices it contains, it is milder or more spicy. Sometimes a spice prevails, for example, cumin, mustard, or anise.

The curry herb (Helichrysum italicum) smells like curry but has nothing to do with the spice mixture, on the other hand, curry leaves (Murraya koenigii) can be an ingredient of the curry mixture.

Curry leaves
Curryleaves plant
curry leaves
this is my curry leaves harvest from 2021 ?

Curry was originally a dish based on a spicy sauce with meat or fish and vegetables. This was then eaten with rice or bread.

There will be more information about the curry spice mixture in general in a different post ?

In India, curry is not actually named curry, but masala, which simply means “spice » or « spice preparation ». Every family has its own recipe for different mixtures.

In Sri Lanka, however, they call this mixture curry, just like the dish itself, which is eaten daily, often three times a day.

For breakfast with Stringhoppers (pasta noodles made with rice flour).

For lunch and dinner with rice or Roti, a flatbread. Sometimes the whole dish is packed in a banana leaf.

Curry dishes usually contain meat only once a day.

On a trip through the southern part of Sri Lanka in February 2018, I was mainly introduced to the Singhalese cuisine. There I attended a great cooking class in Kandy from where I bring the following recipes.


In Sri Lanka, there is a basic spice mixture to which different spices are added according to the dish that is cooked.

This basic mixture consists of 3 spices:

  • 250 g coriander seeds
  • 50 g fennel seeds
  • 50 g cumin seeds

For meat, these spices are additionally roasted and only then ground or crushed with a mortar and pestle.

Other important ingredients in Sri Lankan cuisine are:

  •  red onions
  •  garlic
  •  curry leaves
  •  chili
  •  coconut milk

So, here is the recipe for curry chicken Sri Lanka style (also great with tofu)

For 1 kg of meat/tofu, for 4 people


  • ½ garlic (not clove, but whole ?) with the first skin left
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 cm fresh ginger
  • 1 green cardamom capsule
  • ½ tsp tamarind, preferably without seeds
  • 1 clove

Crush everything together in a large mortar with the pestle until the whole results in a homogeneous mass, then add the following without crushing it anymore:

  • 1 tsp coconut vinegar (or other vinegar)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ handful of chopped red onions
  • ½ handful of curry leaves, if possible fresh, otherwise dried
  • ground cayenne or chili flakes at will
mortar and pestle with Currypaste
In a pan (preferably made of clay) heat a little oil and when it’s hot, add the following while stirring:
  • ½ tsp brown or yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp roasted fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp chili
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 3 tsp roasted curry
  • previously prepared paste

Then add the meat/tofu and 2 ½ cups of water and cook for 15 minutes. Then add the coconut cream until the meat/tofu is covered and cook for another 15 minutes.

In the next post, there will be recipes for delicious side dishes.

Enjoy your meal!

Curry dish

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