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Sri Lankan Black Pork Curry

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You’re going to love this classic Sri Lankan black pork curry!

Black meat curries like this Sri Lankan black pork curry are hugely popular in Sri Lanka.

They’re pretty popular at my house too. This is one you’ve got to try! To make it like you get at the best restaurants in Sri Lanka, you’re going to have to put some work in. But I have a good cheat for you below.

This delicious black pork curry is delicious served simply of plain or flavoured Basmati rice.  Naans or chapatis, samosas and homemade authentic poppadoms are also a very good choice.

Sri Lankan black pork curry

So good!

The secret to making black meat curries is in the curry powder.

In order to make this black pork curry, you need dark roasted curry powder. This is available online and at specialty shops.

I make my own which really takes the curry up a notch or two.

Making your own dark roasted curry powder is a time consuming process and you really have to pay attention to what you’re doing or you’ll burn the spices.

My dark roasted curry powder is right here. Give it a go. You’ll be glad you did.

Which cut of pork should you use?

You want to use a fatty cut of pork like the shoulder or pork belly. The fat adds a lot of flavour.

I prefer pork belly.

You could use a leaner cut such as fillet if you’re watching the calories but it just isn’t the same.

Forward preparation…

The pork needs to be marinated for best results. You can do this up to a day before cooking the curry.

I love the flavour that the vinegar gives the pork.

You can also get all of your ingredients prepared and ready before hand. This ensures that you don’t have to go looking for things while you’re cooking.

Special ingredients…

Two of the herbs that really make this black pork curry shine are curry leaves and pandan leaves.

If you can’t get them fresh, frozen are also fine. I was first introduced to pandan leaves when I visited Sri Lanka for the first time back in 2013.

Although they are worth sourcing and really add to the flavour, you can leave them out if you must.

How long does Sri Lankan black pork curry keep in the fridge?

You should be able to keep the curry in the fridge for a good three days. So if you are serving this later in the week, go ahead and make it. The flavours will actually develop as it sits in the fridge and your Sri Lankan black pork curry will be even better.

Can you freeze this curry?

Yes. It freezes really well for up to 6 months.

How do you reheat this pork curry?

If heating it from the fridge, you can do so in a pan or in the microwave. The same applies when you have frozen it.

Just allow it to defrost and heat it up in the way that is most convenient for you.

Pro tips…

  1. If you can, be sure to prepare your own dark curry powder. It really does take this recipe up a few notches though shop-bought will work fine.
  2. Allow the meat to marinate for 24 hours if you can.
  3. Cook this curry one or two days ahead of serving. The flavours will develop and it will taste even better.
  4. Be sure to cook the pork until very tender. The meat is ready when it is mouthwateringly tender so don’t rush this.

Step by step…

Marinade for pork

Start by whisking the marinade ingredients together. This can be done up to a day before cooking.

Pork marinating

Rub the marinade into the meat and allow to marinate for 3 hours or overnight. If time is tight, you can get away with a 30 minutes of marinating.

Ingredients for Sri Lankan black pork curry

When ready to cook, get all of your ingredients together. This will save you having to look for things while cooking.

Infusing curry leaves and pandan leaves into oil

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat and then add the curry leaves and pandan leaves.

Frying onions

Stir in the chopped onions and fry for about 5 minutes. The onions will release moisture and begin to break down.

Adding garlic and ginger paste to curry

After 5 minutes, stir in the garlic and ginger paste.

Adding lemongrass and sliced chillies to pan

Stir well and the add the lemongrass and sliced chillies.

Adding ground spices to pan.

Add the roasted curry powder and chilli powder to taste. Careful. The curry powder is already quite spicy.

Introducing pork to pan

Stir every well to combine and then add the marinated pork and crushed garlic. Fry to brown for about 10 minutes.

Adding water and remaining ingredients to pan.

Add just enough water to cover and then stir in the sugar and tamarind. You may need to adjust the sweetness and sourness to taste before serving.

Covering the pan to slowly cook the curry

Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes.

Simmering sauce

After about 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue simmering until the meat is really tender and the sauce has thickened.

Finished black pork curry

The sauce will blacked as it reduces. Season with salt to taste and adjust the sourness and sweetness to taste.

NOTE: There is a lot of oil on top from the pork belly. We skimmed most of it off but it’s often stirred in. 

If you like this black pork curry, you might enjoy some of these too…

Doro Wat
Beef Pho
Salt and pepper chicken
Beef Bulgogi
Korean fried chicken

Black pork curry

Great with a cold beer or two.

Black meat curry

Dig in!

Don’t forget to try making your own dark roasted curry powder

Yield: 4 - 6

Sri Lankan Black Pork Curry

Finished black pork curry
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 900g (2 lbs) belly pork, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder* (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 20 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 1 x 5cm x 5cm (2” x 2”) pandan leaf (optional)
  • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, cut into about 8 pieces
  • 3 tbsp dark roasted curry powder (see page 00) or another good quality curry powder
  • 5 green bird’s eye chillies, slit lengthwise down the middle
  • 1 whole head of garlic, smashed but left in the skins
  • 2 tsp jaggery or light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp tamarind concentrate


  1. Put the pork pieces in a mixing bowl and add the marinade ingredients. Mix well with your hands or a spoon. You might want to wear plastic gloves if mixing by hand because of the chilli powder. Cover and leave to marinate for 3 hours or overnight. The longer the better.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. When visibly hot, stir in the curry leaves and pandan leaves and allow them to infuse into the oil for about 30 seconds.
  3. Now add the chopped red onions and fry for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
  4. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste, lemongrass and the chillies and fry for a further 30 seconds.
  5. Add the black curry powder and stir well to combine.
  6. Now pour in the marinade coated pork and stir until the meat is nicely coated with the other ingredients. Fry over medium heat for about 10 minutes to brown the pork and then add just enough water to cover the meat completely.
  7. Stir in the smashed garlic, sugar and tamarind concentrate and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
  8. After 30 minutes, lift the lid and take a look. This is a dry curry so if it is looking really saucy, cook a little longer until the delicious thick sauce is coating the meat.
  9. Taste the curry and add more sugar, for sweetness and tamarind for sourness to taste. Complete by adding salt to taste.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 413Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 2086mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 5gSugar: 11gProtein: 13g

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I hope you enjoy this Sri Lankan black pork curry recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.


Sunday 14th of April 2024

Hi Dan, this looks fantastic and I'm going to give it a go next weekend. Just a question regarding your use of tamarind in this recipe. Above, you mention "2 tsps tamarind concentrate". I'm assuming that's the commercial bottled stuff you can buy. I've got a block of the tamarind pulp that's got all the seeds and other gunk in it. Can you suggest how much of that I should steep in hot water for this recipe? Many thanks, David.


Tuesday 19th of March 2024

Excellent curry. Well worth making this readers. Had it with saffron rice. Thanks Dan. Another tasty curry to add to my regulars.

Dan Toombs

Friday 22nd of March 2024

Thanks very much, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Dan


Sunday 20th of November 2022

Thank you for a lovely recipe! My Sri Lankan friends said it was authentic and delicious! :)

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 22nd of November 2022

That is great to hear, thank you very much. Dan


Monday 4th of April 2022

I made this tonight but I substituted beef chuck roast. It turned out great, though I did slow-simmered it for a couple of hours. What exactly is the purpose of the unpeeled garlic? I can't imagine much flavor is imparted, or are these supposed to be peeled after the fact while eating the curry?

Dan Toombs

Monday 4th of April 2022

Great that it worked with beef. There is quite a lot of flavour in garlic skin but definitely peel it if you prefer. Thanks Dan


Wednesday 16th of February 2022

Hi Dan,

Me again. I'd never used Pandan leaves before as they were impossible to get anywhere near to me. So I'm in the Asian store today buying supplies, and what did I notice beside the Lemongrass tray? Pandan leaves! Of course I bought them, and now I'm going to use them in your recipe above.

One question though; you specify 1 x 5cm x 5cm Pandan leaf. Its a very small piece of Pandan leaf! Will such a small piece work?

Sorry for being a nuisance. Fantastic site BTW.

Dan Toombs

Thursday 17th of February 2022

Great that you have found pandan leaves! I only specify a small piece as I know how hard it is to find so I didn't want to make the ingredient critical to the recipe. Go ahead and use quite a bit more, I usually do. Thanks very much. Dan

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