Archive of BBC Food Recipes

Sri Lankan turkey curry

Prep time 30 mins to 1 hour
Cook time 30 mins to 1 hour
From Rick Stein's Christmas Odyssey
Who doesn't love turkey curry? Make yours extra special by bringing the aromatic flavours of Sri Lanka to your plate, the perfect way to use up leftover Christmas turkey.


  1. For the roasted Sri Lankan curry powder, heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the uncooked rice and cook for 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan regularly, until the rice is toasted and pale golden-brown. Transfer the toasted rice to a large mortar or spice grinder and set aside to cool.

  2. Repeat the dry-frying process with the spices, then tip into a bowl and set aside to cool.

  3. Repeat the dry-frying process with the dried chillies, then tip into a bowl and set aside to cool.

  4. When the toasted rice, spices and chillies have cooled, grind them to a fine powder (do this in batches if necessary). Store the roasted Sri Lankan curry powder in an airtight jar for up to three months.

  5. For the Sri Lankan turkey curry, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves and fry for 15-20 seconds, or until fragrant.

  6. Add the onions or shallots and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and pale golden-brown. Add the garlic and ginger, stir well to combine, and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.

  7. Stir in two tablespoons of the roasted curry powder, the chilli powder and ground turmeric and fry for a further minute.

  8. Add the chopped tomatoes, curry leaves, pieces of pandan leaf, lemongrass stalk, cayenne chillies and salt. Cover the pan with a lid and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over a low to medium heat. Continue to simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the curry sauce has thickened.

  9. Add the coconut milk and cooked turkey, then re-cover the pan with the lid, return the mixture to a simmer and continue to simmer for a further 4-5 minutes, or until the turkey has heated through. Stir in the lime juice and remove the pan from the heat. Serve with steamed rice.


For the roasted Sri Lankan curry powder

  • 1 tbsp uncooked long grain or basmati rice
  • 50g/2oz coriander seeds
  • 25g/1oz cumin seeds
  • 25g/1oz fennel seeds
  • 7.5cm/3in piece cinnamon stick
  • 1½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp cardamom seeds (from about 10 green cardamom pods)
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 dried red Kashmiri chillies

For the Sri Lankan turkey curry

  • 2 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
  • 15cm/6in cinnamon stick, broken into smaller pieces
  • 10 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 10 cloves
  • 350g/12¼oz onions or shallots, peeled, cut in half, thinly sliced
  • 40g/1½oz garlic, peeled, crushed to a paste with the edge of a knife
  • 25g/1oz fresh root ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp roasted Sri Lankan curry powder (see above)
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 200g/7oz canned chopped tomatoes
  • 20 fresh curry leaves
  • 4 x 4cm/1½in pieces pandan leaf (available from some Asian grocers)
  • 1 fat lemongrass stalk, tough outer leaves removed, cut in half, lightly bruised with the edge of a knife
  • 3 green cayenne chillies, split open lengthways
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 400ml/14fl oz canned coconut milk
  • 750g-800g/1lb 10½oz-1lb 12¼oz cold cooked turkey, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • steamed rice, to serve

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