Sri Lankan Pork Curry with Pandanus

Sophie Grigson uses a roasted spice blend to give her black Sri Lankan curry its characteristic flavour
By Sophie Grigson
Sri Lankan Pork Curry with Pandanus
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the roasted curry powder

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 1/2 cm cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 5 cardamom seeds
  • 20 curry leaves
  • 5 cm pandanus leaf (rampe)
  • 2 hot dried chillies

For the curry

  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 2.5 cm ginger, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 7.5 cm cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 900 g pork, cut into large cubes
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 45 g tamarind paste, mixed with 250ml of hot water then sieved
  • 300 ml thick coconut milk

To serve

  • steamed rice, cooked with a 10cm piece of pandanus


1. For the roasted curry powder: heat a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate heat. Add all the ingredients except the curry leaves, pandanas and chillies. Dry-fry, stirring constantly until all the spices are well browned.

2. Add the fresh leaves and the chillies and continue stirring until they have begun to brown too, and the rest of the spices are a slightly alarming dark brown - but don't let them burn.

3. Tip into a bowl and let everything cool for a few minutes, then grind to a powder. Leave to cool completely and store in an airtight jar.

4. For the curry: put the onions, ginger and garlic into the processor and whiz together until fairly finely chopped.

5. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and add the curry leaves. Stir for a few seconds then scrape in the onion mixture. Fry until beginning to colour, then add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and 3 tablespoons of the roasted curry powder. Fry for another minute.

6. Add the pork and stir around until coated with the mixture and fragrant. Add the vinegar and tamarind liquid and season with salt. Bring to a lazy simmer, then cover and leave to simmer for about 1 hour until the pork is very tender.

7. Stir in the coconut milk and cook for a final 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve with the steamed rice.

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