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Ceylon Sauce

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You can add the main ingredient/s of your choice to this Ceylon sauce

Inspired by the flavours of Sri Lanka, this ceylon sauce is definitely one to have in your curry house recipe library.

It’s so good.

Ceylon sauce is just as easy to make as the others but has a lot more ingredients in it. Please don’t let that put you off making it.

Ceylon curry sauce

Influenced by the flavours of Sri Lanka, this Ceylon sauce is so good!

How is ceylon sauce based on Sri Lankan curries?

Star anise, real cinnamon, curry leaves and black pepper are all popular ingredients in Sri Lankan curries.

Coconut is too so this really is a British version of a Sri Lankan curry.

That said, it doesn’t look like any curries I had while travelling around Sri Lanka. This curry is 100% British.

The base sauce.

All curry house curries are made with a base sauce. This base sauce is what gives the curries their famous flavour and texture.

My ‘go to’ recipe is here.
You need to make the base sauce if you want to make curry house style curries. It only takes about an hour to make. Once made, you can cook up a ceylon sauce in minutes.

What if you don’t have time to make a base sauce?

Let me just stress here that making the base sauce is not difficult at all. Your stove does most of the work. If, however you would like to make a curry house style curry without having to prepare a base sauce, I’ve got you covered.

Try one of these no base sauce curry recipes.

Ceylon sauce

Perfect with hot Basmati rice.

Sri Lankan style BIR curry sauce

Dig in!

If you like this BIR (British Indian restaurant) style Ceylon sauce, you might like to try some of these curry house favourites too…

Tikka masala sauce
Korma sauce
Pasanda sauce
Chasni sauce
Chilli garlic sauce
Pathia sauce
Jalfrezi sauce
Keema sauce
Bhuna sauce
Methi sauce
Madras sauce
Vindaloo sauce
Phaal sauce

Yield: 1 - 2

Ceylon Curry Sauce

Ceylon curry sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods - smashed
  • 10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 green bird's eye chilli - finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp mixed powder
  • 2 tsp tandoori masala
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) tomato puree
  • 300ml (1 1/4 cup) base sauce (heated)
  • 50g (1 1/2 oz) block coconut
  • 1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney
  • 1 tbsp cashew paste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp coriander (cilantro)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the star anise, cinnamon, cardamom pods and curry leaves. Fry for about 30 seconds and the add the garlic and ginger paste.
  2. Stir the garlic and ginger around in the oil and then add the bird's eye chillies, coconut flour, chilli powder, mixed powder, tandoori masala and black pepper.
  3. Stir in the tomato puree and bring it to a simmer. Then add about half the base sauce and simmer for a few minutes, only stirring if it looks like the sauce is sticking to the pan.
  4. This is the perfect time to add your main ingredient of choice. Or if you are just making the sauce for later, continue on to the next step.
  5. Add the block coconut and the remaining base sauce and simmer it down until you are happy with the consistency of the sauce.
  6. Add the fenugreek leaves by rubbing them between your fingers and then stir in the mango chutney, cashew paste, sugar, lime juice and garam masala.
  7. To finish, garnish with the coriander (cilantro) and season with salt to taste.

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I hope you enjoy this ceylon sauce recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.


Wednesday 23rd of August 2023

Tried a number of your dishes, Dan, and I love them! With this one, can I substitute the lime juice in your recipe for tamarind? I'm trying to incorporate tamarind into a range of curry recipes as I'm very fond of it! :) Thanks again and good luck with everything.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 5th of September 2023

Yes, I am sure using a bit of tamarind instead of the lime juice would work well. Thanks Dan


Saturday 11th of December 2021

Hi, I love curry’s though I like it mild . Mild Lamb Ceylon is my favourite curry dish and would love to make it myself which I have tried but haven’t had much luck it tasting the same as what I tasted the first time I had lamb Ceylon at the Sitar restaurant Albion Brisbane Australia That got me hooked on it. I was wondering how I could keep Ceylon lamb mild but taste the same with your recipe?

Dan Toombs

Monday 13th of December 2021

Thanks for your message. Just omit the bird's eye chilli and the chilli powder if you don't like heat. Dan


Tuesday 8th of June 2021

By "block coconut" do you mean a creamed coconut block? or just regular coconut? Thanks :D I was tired of Indian food as all the restaurants where I live in Cincinnati, OH serve the same exact items but your cookbook reawakened my love of Indian food. I never even considered trying to make something that looks so difficult at home but it wasn't nearly as complicated as it looks. Now I'm totally addicted to warming spices, rice,lentils, and ghee. Thank You for showing me that my favorite type of food is actually obtainable at home.

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 9th of June 2021

Great you are enjoying my recipes. Yes, it is creamed block coconut. Thanks again Dan


Sunday 25th of April 2021


I purchased The curry guy bible, Im just wondering how I go about making a curry if i was to take shortcuts by getting a commercial curry paste.

I know the base curry must be homemade, but say I get a ticka massala or madras curry paste for example, how do I add this into the recipe?


Dan Toombs

Sunday 25th of April 2021

You would need to read the instructions on the jar as I wouldn't know I am afraid as I am sure each brand is different. I would imagine you could just add them to the base sauce with some meat but I think you would just have to test it and see. Thanks Dan


Sunday 21st of February 2021

I would have assumed "tomato puree" to mean the kind of concentrated tomato paste that comes in tubes, but I'm confused by the instruction to "simmer" it - are you in fact referring to something more like a passata or crushed tinned tomatoes?

Dan Toombs

Sunday 21st of February 2021

I use passata mixed with a bit of water. Thanks Dan

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