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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Now add the chopped red onions and fry for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
Stir in the garlic and ginger paste, lemongrass and the chillies and fry for a further 30 seconds.
Add the black curry powder and stir well to combine.
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.
Stir in the smashed garlic, sugar and tamarind concentrate and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
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.
Taste the curry and add more sugar, for sweetness and tamarind for sourness to taste. Complete by adding salt to taste.
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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.
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!
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?
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.
Wednesday 16th of February 2022
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.
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.
Sunday 6th of February 2022
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.
PS I'm a Beef Rendang specialist; Black Pork curries properly cooked are not far behind!
Tuesday 8th of February 2022
Thanks for the great tips.
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.
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.