HomeRecipesSri Lankan Style Curry Powder

Sri Lankan Style Curry Powder

The first time you need a nightshade free curry powder you should really start with this fabulous blend from Dini at The Flavor Blender. I’m always happy when I find a nightshade free spice blend—especially when I had every reason to expect nightshades. Dini’s BEST Sri Lankan Roasted Curry Powder—it’s not boasting if it’s true, right?—doesn’t disappoint. It’s particularly good in another of her recipes , which I also enjoy, after the inevitable no nightshade adaptation. Anyway, not only does Dini incorporate a dopamine molecule into her logo, she was born in Sri Lanka. Which is to say she has probably forgotten more about the nearly infinite galaxy of south Asian cuisine than I’ve ever encountered.

So, why mess with perfection? Because messing with the spices is my jam. I’m always heat seeking, particularly since I’m no longer allowed to play with the fires of Scoville. And I’ve now been nightshade free long enough that I probably taste regular pepper differently than most people. Playing with the three phases of round pepper (black, white, green) and Indian long pepper is just something I like to do. This version also incorporates Indian long pepper, which historically predates our round pepper.

I like this blend. It has an edgy kick to it that makes it perfect for a variety of curries.


  • 4 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons green peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, preferably from green cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoon Indian long pepper, ground
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds


1Heat a heavy saucepan—cast iron works best—over medium high heat. Have a spatula handy, oven mitts, and a cooling plate to allow quick removal from the heat.

2If you’re new to spice roasting, you’re going to stage this process by rough order of size and density. If you doubt the value of this approach, I’d encourage you to run a little experiment: heat your skillet and throw in a mustard seed and a rice grain. The mustard seed will pop off long before the rice kernel begins to get toasty.

3For this blend the order of operations went like this: Add the rice, stirring often. As it starts to turn golden add the peppercorns and cloves. A minute or two later add the coriander, cumin, and fennel, then the cardamom. Finally, add the mustard seeds. Shake or work quickly with the spatula to distribute the heat evenly and keep the spices from burning. When an aromatic smoke begins to appear, quickly decant the medley to a plate to cool. (NOTE: whole spices can vary in size, so you may choose to roast in a different order.)

4Finally, toss the ground long pepper onto the hot pan. Unless you’re using a very thin skillet it will begin to smoke immediately, so it should only be toasted for a few second. Add to the cooling plate.

5Grind in a spice mill or using a mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight container.


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