Saturday, January 23, 2021

Jaffna Goat Curry: a spicy Sunday roast recipe

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Adapted from a Peter Kuruvita recipe, this Jaffna Goat curry is a rather simple spicy Sunday roast curry. And with this, I added yet another spice blend to my collection – Sri Lankan roasted curry powder.

In traditional Sri Lankan cooking, two forms of spice blends are common – the roasted and the unroasted variety. While the former is reserved for rich curries and non-vegetarian dishes, the latter is milder and tends to be used for seafood and vegetarian dishes.

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The key to a good roasted curry powder is getting your hands on good quality whole spices and then roasting them yourself. The roasting is taken right to the edge without burning, so watch over it diligently.

Jaffna Goat Curry.Indian Link

I read many recipes and articles on how to make both versions and ended up using this roasted curry powder recipe from Youtube chef Menaka at The Culinary Corner; it seemed the most basic and authentic version. As with many traditional spice blends, like garam masala, Sri Lankan roasted curry powder also varies slightly between households.

This Jaffna Goat Curry uses both the roasted and unroasted curry powders, which is liberally used to marinate the meat, along with a few other aromatics and thin coconut milk. Only using the thin, and not the thick, coconut milk means you get a rich, dark curry.

This is an adaptation of the traditional curry (which uses blood and offal). It works just as well without using the offal, instead you can substitute with tomato paste, keeping the recipe simple and easy to make by all.

Jaffna Goat Curry


Jaffna Goat Curry.Indian Link
  • 1 kg goat pieces (approx. 2cm pieces, with bones)
  • 1 tbsp Jaffna unroasted curry powder (recipe given below)
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 5 green cardamoms; crushed
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp red chilli powder (adjust to heat preferences)
  • 2 tbsp Sri Lankan roasted curry powder (recipe given below)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 200ml thin (or 2nd extract) coconut milk
  • Salt, to season
  • 4-5 shallots; finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves; grated
  • 1-inch ginger; grated
  • 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • A few sprigs of curry leaves


In a large pot, add the goat pieces along with the unroasted curry powder, cumin powder, cardamoms, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, roasted curry powder, tomato paste, salt and thin coconut milk. Mix and keep aside for at least 30 minutes.

Heat oil in another vessel (earthenware if you have) and add the curry leaves, shallots, garlic and ginger; sauté till the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the marinated goat pieces, season with salt and mix well to combine. If there is extra marinade in the first pot, add a little water to it and rinse it out into the curry so none of that lovely flavour is lost.

READ ALSO: Sri Lankan delicacy

Jaffna Goat Curry.Indian Link

Add more water to the curry if necessary and cook covered on low heat till the goat pieces are tender and falling off the bone. Stir occasionally and add water if more gravy is required.

Garnish with curry leaves and serve warm.

It is best to make this curry ahead and let it sit for a while to allow the flavours to develop.

Unroasted curry powder

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tbsp fennel seeds

In a grinder, add all the whole spices and grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container and use as required.

Jaffna Goat Curry.Indian Link

Sri Lankan roasted curry powder

  • 3 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 10 dried chillies
  • ½ tbsp black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 green cardamom
  • 1 stick Ceylon cinnamon (not cassia)
  • 2 dry bay leaves
Jaffna Goat Curry.Indian Link


Roasting the spices has to be done in stages as some of the spices need to be roasted longer than the others. Some versions of this blend also use fenugreek, mustard and pandan leaves.

Add the coriander seeds to a pan and allow to roast on low heat for about a minute and then add the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon. Roast for another 15 seconds and then add the curry leaves. Mix regularly and keep the heat low to avoid burning the spices. Continue to roast for another 30 seconds and then add the chillies. Allow to roast for a minute and finally add the fennel and cumin seeds. Roast for another 15-30 seconds and remove from heat. Allow to cool completely and then grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.

READ ALSO: Refreshing treats to beat the summer heat

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