Skip to Content

Home » Sri Lankan Black Pork Curry

Sri Lankan Black Pork Curry

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.

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?

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.

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

Sri Lankan Black Pork Curry

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

Ingredients

  • 900g (2 lbs) belly pork, cut into bite sized pieces
  • FOR THE MARINADE
  • 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
  • FOR THE CURRY
  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Did you like this recipe?

Please join me on Facebook where I share all my latest recipes and videos. Just click that Facebook icon on the left and let's get to know each other!

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.

The pan I used to cook this Sri Lankan black pork curry in was supplied by ProCook. I love it and highly recommend their products!

Jamie

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

Ivan

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

Ivan

Sunday 6th of February 2022

Hi Dan,

I'll share my secret to maximize flavour in a black pork curry.

I know Sri Lankans don't bother browning off the pork before adding it to the sauce. I think this curry benefits greatly from doing this, as I'll explain :

You should marinate the pork for the full 24 hours. This allows a good infusion into the meat and tenderizes wonderfully. You then fry off the pork and put it aside. Now you're going to have to fry the pork in batches to avoid steaming while frying. Using a medium high heat, fry the pork for 3-4 minutes per batch. You will notice as you fry that a 'fond' begins to form on the bottom of the pan. This fond is composed of the marinade spices, meat juices and oil. After one batch of meat the fond looks toasted. Leave it there. On frying the second batch of meat, this fond will have developed a dark brown colour. Now is the time to deglaze. I use plain water and pour the deglazed liquid into a bowl. If I have more frying to do then I repeat the cycle.

This bowl of fond liquid with the darkly fried marinade spices simply does wonders for this curry.

Enjoy!

PS I'm a Beef Rendang specialist; Black Pork curries properly cooked are not far behind!

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 8th of February 2022

Thanks for the great tips. Dan

Duncan

Saturday 15th of January 2022

One of my top five favourite dishes and make it very often. Obviously there is no ‘definitive’ recipe, but this one’s very good. Pandan leaf is absolutely essential but thankfully becoming far easier to find these days.

I followed this recipe exactly and enjoyed it.

My only suggestion is, if using pork belly (and you really should because it’s the best), skip the marinade stage and fry the meat on a high heat until it’s beginning to get crispy, then remove. Otherwise the meat can feel a bit slimey.

Then cook the onions and add the spices afterwards (I’d omit the vinegar but add more tamarind.)

One other point - look out for McCurrie brand Sri Lankan spices. Fantastic quality and to be honest, I’ve never been able to make a better roasted curry powder than theirs.

Dan Toombs

Friday 21st of January 2022

Thanks very much for the suggestions, I am really glad you enjoyed the recipe as it is one of my favourites. Dan

Skip to Recipe