I have recently been travelling around Sri Lanka hence my lack of blogging and extreme over-dosing of all things curry. In Sri Lanka, there are many types of curry available but it is common to ask for ‘rice and curry’ when eating out and you are presented with whatever the holding decides to cook up on that day. It is also good practice to order a couple of hours before you want to eat as spice blends are ground from scratch. They take time but man, are they worth it?!?! This particular recipe pays testament to that. Kalu pol means ‘black coconut’ and refers to a special spice powder of dark roasted coconut, dried chillies, rice and fennel, cumin and mustard seeds, which is used to thicken curries. This curry also uses the dark-roasted Sri Lankan curry powder, giving the finished curry its traditional ‘black’ colour. If you are not lucky enough to have travelled there yourself and bought some ready grinded spice blend, I have included the recipe to make your own. This dish is traditionally served with red rice or coconut rice (kiribath). I have also served it with paratha and salad.
- 2 Tbsps vegetable oil
- 10cm cinnamon stick, broken into smaller pieces
- 6 x 2.5cm pieces pandan leaf (optional)
- 24 curry leaves
- 250g onions, finely chopped
- 25g garlic, grated
- 65g ginger, grated
- 2 fat lemongrass stalks, core thinly sliced
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1 ½ Tbsps Roasted Sri Lankan curry powder (see note)
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 2 Tbsp vinegar
- 400g chopped tomatoes
- 5kg boned shoulder of pork, cut into 2.5cm chunks
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the kalu pol:
- 2 tsp uncooked white rice
- 15g dried red Kashmiri chillies (cut dramatically for a milder curry)
- 1 Tbsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 50g fresh coconut, finely grated
- 2 Tbsp tamarind paste (or lemon juice)
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the cinnamon, pandan and curry leaves and leave them to sizzle for a few seconds, then add the onion and fry for 6 minutes until lightly browned.
- Add the garlic, ginger and lemongrass and fry for 2 minutes more. Add the chilli powder, curry powder and turmeric and fry for 1 minute.
- Add the vinegar and let it bubble away for a minute then add the tomatoes, pork, black pepper, 750ml water and 1-2tsp salt. Bring to a simmer. Part cover and cook for 1 hour or until the pork is almost tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
- Meanwhile, for the kalu pol, heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the rice and shake it around for about 3 minutes until richly golden. Tip into a bowl, add the chillies to the pan and shake around for another 3 minutes until they darken slightly, taking care not to let them burn. Add to the bowl with the rice. Now add the mustard, fennel and cumin seeds to the pan. Stir them around constantly for 3 minutes until richly browned and add to the bowl. Put the coconut into the pan and stir it around constantly for 5 minutes until richly golden. Tip everything into a pestle and mortar and grind to a fine powder. Do this in batches if necessary. Stir in the tamarind paste and enough additional water to form a smooth paste.
- Add the kalu pol to the curry and leave to simmer, uncovered, for a further 10-15 minutes until the pork is very tender and sauce has reduced and thickened.
One of the characteristics of Sri Lankan cuisine is their preference for freshly prepared curry powders rather than pastes. The roasted curry powder is predominantly used in meat and fish dishes.
- 1 Tbsp uncooked white rice
- 50g coriander seeds
- 25g cumin seeds
- 25g fennel seeds
- 5cm cinnamon stick
- 1 ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
- ½ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp cardamom seeds (from about 10 green pods)
- ½ tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 3 dried red Kashmiri chillies
Heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the rice ad shake the grains around for about 3 minutes until medium brown in colour. Tip the rice into a bowl and leave to cool while you do the same to the spices and then to the dried chillies. Mix the rice, spice and chillies together and grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Store in a screw top jar and use within 3 months.