Category Archives: Meat/ Fish Curries

Black Pork Belly


I got the idea for this recipe while still in the states.I was perusing my favourite blogs, and Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella, posted a review for a new restaurant in Sydney that was serving Sri Lankan food. One of the dishes she tried while she was at the restaurant was a Black Pork Belly Curry. As soon as I read that phrase, I immediately concluded it was the best idea ever! In fact I told anyone that would listen what an amazing idea it was. Naturally, their response was, “why don’t you make it?”. So I did.Many many times. This is about the 10th iteration of this recipe, and Mr Firehouse, who has tried every last one, is confident this is the best.

I won’t lie, this recipe is a labour of love.  It is time consuming and requires a horde of ingredients. But the results are more than worth it. It will also be the crowning glory on your table, if you invest time in this dish, you really don’t need much more. A salad, maybe a creamy dhal or potato, some steamed white rice and you will wow your guests. Trust me!



Black Roasted Curry Powder

  • 2 tbsp. raw rice
  • 3 tbsp. coriander
  • 2 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. fennel
  • 1 tsp. cardamon pods
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • curry leaves
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon

Pork Curry

  • 1.5 kg of pork belly with skin and rind on (whole)
  • 2 tbsp. onion flakes or 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp. ginger minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 green chillis sliced
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp. tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp. ground cashew nut *
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • olive oil and sea salt for crispy skin
  • Oil for deep frying


Preheat you oven to 160C. Place all the ingredients for the curry portion, except for the pork in an oven proof sauce with a lid. Add 2 cups of water and stir until all the ingredients are well mixed. .Next add the pork belly, put the lid on and place in the oven for 2.5 hours.

In the mean time, prepare you curry powder.

In a dry pan roast the rice until brown, when you’re satisfied with the colour add the curry leaves, pandan leaf and cinnamon.


Next add the fennel and fry for a few minutes. Next go the cloves, cardamon and coriander.


Next to last is the cumin and finally the mustard seeds. Leave the whole mix on the heat until the mustard seeds pop.


When cool to touch, place the spice mix in a grinder and grind to a fine powder.


When the pork is done, remove the pot from the oven. Fish out the pork and place over some paper towel to dry. If I have the time, I’ll place it in the fridge over night to further dry out.

Decant the curry sauce into a jug and place in the fridge. Once the sauce has cooled, the fat will have solidified at the top, remove this and replace the cooled sauce back in the saucepan.

Place over a medium heat before adding 2 tbsp. of the black curry powder and 2 tablespoons of ground cashew nuts *.  Simmer for 5 minutes before adding the sugar and testing for seasoning.

Cut the dried pork belly into 2 cm, 1inch cubes. Deep fry over a medium heat until golden,crispy and browned. Because of the fat and water content, the pork will splatter. I use a deep fryer with a  lid to prevent splattering, if not, make sure you have a splatter cover for your pan. Drain well over paper towels.

When ready to serve, combine the pork and curry sauce and serve immediately.


  • I’ve used cashew nut butter or almond butter or even macadamia butter in place of the ground nuts.


Filed under "Something" Free Cooking, Meat/ Fish Curries, Meat/Fish Dishes, Pork, Sri Lankan Food, Uncategorized

Sri Lankan Beef Curry


I was an incredibly fussy eater as a child. The list of foods I didn’t eat was a lot longer than those that I did. I was very anti tomato. I despised mushrooms and if there was anything in my rice; turmeric, vegetables or sultanas (ahhh) my poor parents would have to ask for plain.white.rice. I think they especially enjoyed this when we were at friends places for dinner. I was fussy with fruit, I only liked crunchy, sour types like granny smith apples. I did not eat bananas and okra and eggplant were a bit contentious.

I’m well and truly getting my come-uppance now, Mister C’s tastes change almost daily. Yesterday and today he ate a kiwifruit in a sitting, and now that I’ve gone and bought a bag of the really nice expensive, organic variety, I bet you he’s not going to try any of it.

As I got older I thankfully got over most of these ‘issues’, nowadays there are only a few things I don’t eat, bananas being one of them. I did however stop eating red meat as I finished Uni.  We didn’t eat it much at home, except for mince, and therefore I couldn’t cook it well. By the time I got married I didn’t eat it at all and it was only moving to the US that got me eating it again. Beef is huge here, where you’re likely to get pork or lamb in Australia, Washington especially prides itself on beef (with the animal’s name and favourite variety of grass printed on the menu) and fish. So if you’re not eating much fish, it’s mushrooms for you! When I was pregnant there was a limit to the amount of fish I could eat, I couldn’t eat a lot of cheese (common in the vegetarian meals) and so beef it was.  Now that I started, I’ve been enjoying learning to cook it better and identifying different cuts and of course learning to cook the perfect steak.




  • 1kg (a little over 2 pounds) of beef stewing meat cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1tbsp. ginger, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bird’s-eye chilli, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cardamon pods bruised
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp roasted curry powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. of chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 4 large vine-ripened tomatoes pureed in the food processor or 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. sugar


Marinate the  beef with the salt, pepper and vinegar. Set aside for at least 1/2 an hour.


In a food processor chop the onion, chilli, ginger and garlic. If you don’t have a good processor just chop all of these up finely.

In  a large heavy bottomed saucepan add the ghee, curry leaves, cloves, cardamon and cinnamon. Wait till the spices start getting lovely and fragrant and add the chopped onion mixture.


Cook this mixture off until the onions are soft and sweet. Add the spices (chilli, curry powders, turmeric) to the oil and onions and fry until the spices are no longer “raw” .


Now add the marinated beef and coat evenly with the spice mixture. Finally add the tomatoes and the sugar to the curry. Simmer the curry on medium heat with the lid on for at least an hour or until the sauce is thick and the meat is lovely and tender.






Filed under Beef, Meat/ Fish Curries, Meat/Fish Dishes, Sri Lankan Food, Uncategorized

Chicken Curry

Here’s a fact; every Sri Lankan I know has a chicken curry recipe that varies slightly. There’s usually a secret ingredient, a steadfast opinion on the necessity of tomato and the right way to use curry powder. I learnt how to make curry from my mother, so this is based very much on her chicken curry.

The medley of Sri Lankan spices I use

This curry goes amazingly with bread, steamed white rice, roti and even crispy fries….trust me. Even baby Callum has had some of this with some the chilli and salt omitted of course.

The list of ingredients is daunting but in this day of globalisation most of these ingredients can be found at a local supermarket. The curry powder thing is confusing, basically a roasted curry powder is a raw curry powder that has been dry roasted in a pan until it’s dark brown in colour and smokey in flavour. Again, a good Sri Lankan grocery store will have it on hand.

Now, health conscious people will tell you that you can make chicken curry with lean, mean chicken breast. Lies…all lies….don’t listen to them. Block you ears, walk away. Chicken curry must, do you hear me? MUST be made with meat on the bone. The marrow imparts amazing flavour, the meat is sweeter and there is no greater pleasure than chewing on those bones after they’ve been soaking in curry sauce for ages.


  • 2kg Chicken cut into pieces – use a good quality, high welfare bird or legs and thighs portioned up. The meat must be on a bone and whether you leave the skin on or not is up to you.
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 3 cloves or garlic chopped
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger  peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • handful of curry leaves
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • 3-4 cardamon pods bruised
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 tsp unroasted curry powder
  • 2 tsp roasted curry powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp roasted chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Salt
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Sugar (optional)


I love making curry in cast-iron ceramic pot, it’s strangely reminiscent of the clay pots of Lanka and gives an amazing evenness of heat and flavour.
I start by frying the cinnamon stick in the ghee. Once the smell of cinnamon hits my nose I add the curry leaves, pandan leaf, ginger, garlic, onion, cloves and cardamon.

Bruising the cardamon and cloves a little in mortar and pestle
helps release the flavours a little more
I sweat all the ingredients off and wait for the onions to go lovely and soft. 
At this point I start adding the spices, I add them all at once and fry the resulting paste for about 4 minutes on medium heat until the spices really smell good. I mean, they smelt pretty ok to begin with but they should be knocking your socks off by now.
 Next the chicken goes in and you the chicken to be coated in all of the spices and lovely and sealed. Basically that raw pink meat should look nice and brown and spicy.
Next we add the tomatoes, I sometimes whizz this up with my stick blender especially if the little man is going to get into it, it’s totally not necessary but makes for a smooth sauce that he can eat easily.
One last stir to meld the chicken, the spices and the tomato and then pop on the lid.
Here’s the hard part…you must leave the curry alone. I bring the pot to the boil, bring the heat to a simmer and then cook for half an hour.
At the end of the half-hour the chicken will be cooked, the sauce will be lovely and thick and best of all your house it going to smell ah-mazing!
Take the lid off and give it a good stir before seasoning with salt to taste. I’ve put sugar on the list as an option because really it depends on your  tastte, sometimes the tomatoes can make the sauce very acidic and a little bit of sugar balances it out. Sometimes I find that the sugar is totally not necessary. Use your judgement here. Oh….and a word about patience. If you can leave this for a day in the fridge, it will taste better.


Filed under Chicken, Meat/ Fish Curries, Meat/Fish Dishes, Sri Lankan Food, Uncategorized