Aunty Phil’s Black Curry

My aunty Phil has a treasure trove of recipes, handed down from friends or relatives, carefully penned into a series of exercise books. This one was passed to her from Ceylonese friends, as Sri Lanka was known then, and is a simple but delicious variant on the famous teardrop isle’s black curry.

This is intended to be a ‘dry’ curry, without much sauce. The name comes from the black pepper, which gives the curry its characteristic darkness. All of the heat – and this is a mild curry – is from the peppercorns, as there is no chilli.cspicesandmeat_small


  • 750g rump steak or sirloin, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tsp clove powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1 ½ large onions, chopped
  • A sprig of curry leaves (approx. 12 leaves)
  • dash of lemon juice (approx. ¼ one lemon)
  • 500mls of good beef stock

Heat a little olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. When oil is hot, add all of the dry ingredients, except the curry leaves, and fry quickly until fragrant, stirring so as not to allow any of the spices to burn.

Add curry leaves, onion, meat, lemon juice and beef stock. After a couple of minutes, stir in yoghurt and turn heat down to a simmer.

Cook for 1 hour until beef is tender, stirring frequently towards the end of the cooking. It should look very thick and dark; you may need to remove the meat and reduce the sauce to achieve this.curryfinished

Serve with rice, and a green vegetable.


2 thoughts on “Aunty Phil’s Black Curry

    • It wasn’t half bad – and it was my Aunty’s 96th birthday this week, which is another reason I wanted to immortalise her curry. 3 degrees eh? it’s 30 in the shade and muggy here. The shock to your system when you get back will be quite something!

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