Sri Lankan recipe for lamb curry with tamarind and coconut

  • Author: Tooting Mama
  • Prep Time: 80 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Main dish
  • Cuisine: Sri Lankan


  • 800g of bite-sized chunks of lamb, trimmed of fat
  • 100ml tamarind water
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 2 red dried chillies (crushed)
  • 1 teaspoon of fenugreek
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • A teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 1 inch of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion sliced
  • 20 curry leaves
  •  A generous pinch of salt


  • First up is making the dry roasted curry mix
  • Place a small solid pan (I use a small frying pan) on a low heat
  • Add in the whole dry spices and wait for the fragrance to fill the room
  • Take the spices off the heat and pour into a pestle and mortar
  • Crush the spices into a fine(ish) powder, discarding the husks of the cardamom pods
  • Pour the spices into a large bowl
  • Add the finely chopped ginger and garlic
  • Followed by the coconut milk and the tamarind water
  • Now add the meat, and with a wooden spoon, mix the meat thoroughly in the marinade
  • Cover the bowl with clingfilm, and place the bowl in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour
  • Just before you are ready to take the marinaded meat out of the fridge you can make a start on frying the onions and curry leaves
  •  Heat the vegetable oil in a large casserole dish
  • Add the sliced onions and curry leaves
  • On a low heat, cook the onions till they are soft and melting, with a wooden spoon stir occasionally so the onions don’t stick to the bottom of the pan
  • Once the onions are almost transparent, add the marinaded meat
  • Mix the meat thoroughly into the onions and curry leaves, add a generous pinch of salt then cover with the lid, leaving to cook on a low heat
  • Every now and then, give the meat a stir
  • After about 30 minutes, just ease the lid of the casserole pot, allow a little space to let the water to evaporate and allow the sauce to thicken
  • After around 15 minutes, the sauce should thicken coating each morsel of meat with a delicious spicy coconut sauce
  • Serve with boiled rice, perhaps and dhal and aubergine curry and enjoy!


  • For this recipe, I use my deep-sides Le Creuset casserole dish with lid
  • To make the tamarind water, take a chunk of dried tamarind, about an inch. Place into a small bowl, add 100ml of boiling water. Let the pulp soak for a few minutes, give a stir with a spoon, then strain into a small bowl.

Keywords: Sri Lankan lamb curry

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