Based on the idea of a European pot roast, the meat is cooked in one large piece with the usual curry suspects, then sliced and served with the sauce spooned over the top.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (8 votes)


  • 1.5 kg piece beef brisket or chuck, at room temperature (see Notes)
  • 20 g coconut oil, plus extra for rubbing
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 g curry leaves
  • 200 g red onion, sliced    
  • 20 g finely chopped garlic
  • 15 g finely chopped ginger
  • 35 g Black curry powder (see Notes)
  • 16 g chilli powder
  • pickled limes, pulp removed, skin cut into medium fine dice
  • 30 g grated coconut
  • 12 g fine rice flour
  • 30 g tomato paste (concentrated puree)
  • 10 g caster (superfine) sugar
  • juice of 1–2 limes

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time: 20 minutes

  1. Rub the beef with a little coconut oil and season well all over. Heat a saucepan large enough to hold the beef over a medium heat, then add the meat and sear on all sides until nicely browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. There should be some fat left behind, but also add the remaining 20 g coconut oil.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except the lime juice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Pour in 750 ml water and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low.
  3. Return the beef to the pan. Cover and cook gently for 3½–4 hours, until the meat is cooked through and very tender (see Notes), turning it every 30 minutes or so for even cooking.
  4. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside in a warm spot to rest for a good 20 minutes.
  5. Turn up the heat under the cooking liquid and simmer until it has reduced to the consistency of a thick gravy. This should take about 10 minutes. Season to taste with lime juice – you’re looking for a nice spicy flavour with a hint of sweetness and a noticeable sharpness from the pickled limes.
  6. Cut the rested beef into 1 cm thick slices and arrange on a platter. Spoon the gravy over the top and serve.



To make the brown curry powder, place a wide shallow frying pan over a medium–high heat, add 45 g coriander seeds and 30 g fennel seeds and toast gently, tossing regularly for even cooking. After about 2 minutes the spices will start popping and releasing their aromas. Reduce the heat and keep toasting for another 4–5 minutes until the spices start to darken and the aroma becomes stronger and sweeter. Tip them into a bowl.

Add 30 g white peppercorns, 30 g mustard seeds and 20 g cumin seeds, 12 g curry leaves and 1 g pandan (cut into 5 mm pieces) to the pan and toast over a medium–high heat for 2 minutes or until they start to pop. Reduce the heat and toast for another 2–3 minutes until the pepper smell is pronounced, the mustard seeds are not only popping but grey in colour, the cumin darkens, and the fresh leaves are dry. Tip them into the bowl with the coriander and fennel seeds.

Next, toast a 15 g cinnamon quill (roughly crushed) and 8 g cardamom seeds over a medium–low heat for 4–5 minutes, then add to the bowl with the other spices and allow to cool completely.

Grind to a fine powder and then mix through the turmeric and 11 g chilli powder. Store in an airtight container.

Both cuts of meat work well here; it basically comes down to how fatty you like your meat. I always go for the brisket as I prefer a fatty cut. The cooking time will vary, depending on the shape and cut of the meat you choose, but you want the end result to be tender, unctuous and starting to give way.


Recipe and image from Lanka Food: Serendipity & Spice by O Tama Carey, Hardie Grant Books, RRP $55.