Sri Lankan Curry with Coconut Sambal

This dish is one of Delia Smith's favourite curries - her recipe is made extra special by the generous use of fresh creamy-white coconut
By Delia Smith
Sri Lankan Curry with Coconut Sambal
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 700 g lamb, shoulder or neck fillet (weighed after trimming), cut into cubes
  • 3 tbsp groundnut oil, or other flavourless oil
  • 2 onions, chopped small
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 1.5 tbsp plain flour, heaped
  • 1 tbsp Madras curry powder, rounded
  • 1 coconut, milk and 75g coconut, finely grated
  • 570 ml stock
  • 75 g coconut cream, grated
  • 2.5 cm cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds, rounded
  • 1 pinches black pepper

For the coconut sambal

  • 0.5 coconut, flesh only
  • 1 medium onion
  • 0.25 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp lemon or lime juice
  • 0.5 tsp salt

To garnish

  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled, halved
  • 1 medium onion, quartered then separated out into layers


1. First, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large casserole, then add the onions and garlic and cook gently to soften for 5 minutes. Next, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and, when it's nice and hot, quickly brown the cubes of meat (you will have to do this in two batches). Then sprinkle the flour and curry powder over the onions in the casserole and stir to soak up the juice, then cook gently for 2 minutes.

2. Now pour the coconut milk into a measuring jug and make up to 725 ml with stock and slowly pour this into the casserole, stirring all the time. Next, stir in the grated fresh and creamed coconut and transfer the browned meat to the casserole.

3. Finally, add the spices and season with salt and pepper. Bring up to simmering point, cover and cook in the centre of the oven or on a low simmer on top of the stove for 2 hours.

4. To make the coconut sambal, quite simply grate the coconut and the onion straight into a bowl, then sprinkle in the chilli powder, the lemon or lime juice and the salt. Stir to get everything nicely blended, then sprinkle just a tiny dusting of chilli powder over the top, cover and chill slightly until needed.

5. Five minutes before the end of the curry's cooking time, remove the cinnamon stick and stir the hard-boiled eggs and onion pieces into the curry to warm through (the onions are not meant to be cooked). Serve with the coconut sambal and Spiced Pilau Rice with Nuts

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