this recipe is adapted from chandra dissanayake’s “ceylon cookery” originally published in sri lanka in 1968.

don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients. you do need to prepare your proper mise-en-place, however.

serve it with basmati rice and/or roti. i also like the pol sambol and seeni sambol and seeni sambol 2 and seenisambol 3

if you can’t find “maldive fish”, you can use dried shrimp in a pinch. this dried maldive fish is what my sri lankan mother in law brought for me from sri lanka larich brand dried maldive fish this online sri lankan grocery supplier serves the u.s. and u.k., as well as sri lanka.

there is another online sri lankan grocery this one also has the dried pandan leaf or “rampa”

here is a sri lankan fresh coconut grater (get the cover, too).

i’d be happy to drink a cold taj mahal beer with this.

  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Total: good question, but it depends on how experienced one is.
  • Active: mmmm, 45 minutes, realistically?

Ingredients (17)

  • 1 pound meat
  • 1 ounce rice
  • 3 slices fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 ounce thick tamarind pulp, extracted with 2 ounces coconut milk or water
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder, preferably freshly ground
  • pinch of turmeric
  • curry leaves
  • 1 1/2 “dessertspoons” coriander powder, preferably freshly ground
  • 1 ounce fresh coconut
  • 1/4 ounce fresh garlic
  • 2 ounces onions
  • 1 1/2 “dessertspoons” chillie powder (the sri lankan or indian kind — not u.s. “chili” powder)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet cumin powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • rampe (pandan leaf), sera (?)
  • 2 “dessertspoons” vegetable oil
  • 16 ounces (2 cups) 1st and 2d extracts of coconut milk (the “milk” derived from the fresh ground coconut)


  1. chop 1 ounce onion, dice the second ounce. finely chop the garlic and ginger.
  2. roast the coconut and rice in a dry skillet or the oven, until brown. grind it to a fine paste with water.
  3. roast the curry powder until it’s dark like coffee. the “curry powder” is the cumin, turmeric, coriander, chillie powder, and “sweet” cumin powder.
  4. mix all ingredients together EXCEPT for the curry leaves, rampe/pandan leaf, sera and sliced onions.
  5. place in a sauce pot or dutch oven and bring the mixture to a boil. then cover and reduce heat to SIMMER until the meat is tender. once tender, remove the pot from the heat.
  6. heat the oil in a skillet until very hot, then toss in the curry leaves, rampe, sera and onions. fry these until they are golden brown.
  7. add the meat mixture to the curry leaf mixture, and bring it to a boil. then remove it from the heat.