Preparing For Beef Curry, Sri Lankan Curry Powder

Out there in the world they sell curry powder blends ( My favorite being “Tandoori Ass.” ).  While there may be some good ones, my feeling is that these powders do not add much value to a dish.  After one bite,  I’m left with the feeling that I’ve lost my money on some overpriced turmeric.  My first experience with building a spice blend for Indian dishes was when my husband made a chickpea dish from Madhur Jaffrey’s little golden cookbook.  That dish was so panty-droppingly good, I called it “The Dish of Love.”  From that moment on, we make curry powder from the basic spices ( most of which begin with the letter ‘c’ ).

I made 4 kilos of beef curry the other week.  I use a recipe given to me by one of our beef loving customers.  But before you even think of going there, you need to whip up a batch of Sri Lankan Curry Powder.  It’s very simple.  Add the spices in a cast iron skillet and brown.  Then blend it.  The only trick is to not burn it while browning.  Cumin is the usual culprit, so you can add that in later as the rest of the goodies begin browning.

Sri Lankan curry powder recipes don’t vary much, I settled in on the one our friend gave me from Peter Kuruvita’s beef curry.  It does the job. And it goes a little something like this:

  • 50g coriander seeds
  • 25g cumin seeds
  • 25g fennel seeds
  • Three cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 dried chilis

DSC_1385 Brown the spices until they smell like love.


Pour into a big bowl and grind in a “spice” grinder.  I use a coffee grinder.  I grind in batches.

Starts like this.


Ends like this.


I usually do a double grind to make sure I didn’t miss anybody.


Now you are set for beef curry a-go-go.  This blog post took longer than making that lovely curry powder.  I only wish I could insert a “scratch-n-sniff” button.

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