Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry

The inspiration for this Sri Lankan vegetable curry comes partly from my recent travels to this beautiful country, and partly from my introduction to Ayurveda whilst there.

An amazing Ayurvedic doctor told me what kind of food was best for my body type. I was happy to discover that this meant eating mostly moderately spiced food - including lots of different spices. 


Curry Powder Mixture

It doesn't take long to actually cook this Sri Lankan vegetable curry. Once you have prepared the ingredients, you just add them to a pot and let it all simmer for about 15 minutes.

One of the preparations involve making your own curry powder mixture, which is also easy to do.

There is no one single recipe for curry powder. The recipe I've come up with includes several different spices that are often used, and which all have different health benefits.

I don't include chilli in the mixture - I add that separately to the dish instead, along with turmeric. I don't want chilli to be the dominant spice - I want to be able to taste all the different spices I'm using. 

By dry-roasting the whole spices, like I do in this recipe, you bring out more flavour from the spices.

This will make more curry powder than you need for this recipe. Store the rest in an air-tight container in a cupboard or in the fridge.

Curry Powder Mixture:

  • 4cm, 1.5 inch, piece of cinnamon bark - crumbled, I use real, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) cinnamon 
  • 4 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • the seeds from 6 cardamom pods (you can use the outer husk for a herbal tea)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper corns

Heat up a frying pan over a medium-high heat and once hot, add all the spices to the pan. Keep stirring the spices for 2-3 minutes until they release their fragrance. Place the spices in either a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder, and grind to a fine powder.

Ingredients For The Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry

As you can see from the colour of the finished dish at the top of the page, I use beetroots (beets) as one the ingredients for the Sri Lankan vegetable curry. Yep, it colours everything else purple!

I love beets and they are super healthy. When I was in Sri Lanka they would cook the beetroots in a separate curry and serve it alongside other curries.

You don't have to use the specific vegetables that I use in mine. If you want to leave out the beets, then just add some more of another vegetable. (By the way - I had half a small butternut squash at home so I added that + one medium sweet potato.)

The green vegetable I use in this curry is okra, which is a common vegetable in Sri Lanka. You can replace it with chopped tenderstem broccoli (broccolini) or green beans.


  • 1 small red onion - finely chopped
  • thumb-size piece of ginger - grated
  • 3 garlic cloves - crushed/minced
  • 2 heaped teaspoons curry powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 level teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • small handfull of dried curry leaves - crushed
  • 2 medium-sized beetroots (beets) - chopped into batons
  • 1 small butternut squash (or use 2 sweet potatoes) - peeled, halved and de-seeded and then chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 200g, 7oz, okra (or use tenderstem broccoli or green beans - chopped
  • 400ml, 13 1/2fl oz, coconut milk
  • 200ml, 7fl oz, water

Add all the ingredients to a pot and stir. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover with a lid and a simmer for about 15 minutes.

I serve this curry with quinoa and some grated coconut on top.


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