• Sri Lankan curry powder - thuna paha (Murdoch Books / © Kim Lightbody)

The name translates as 'three or five', as this blend traditionally has three or five ingredients (although every cook in Sri Lanka has their own recipe).

Makes

Preparation

15min

Skill level

Easy
By
Average: 4.4 (4 votes)
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Thuna paha - unroasted curry powder - is best with vegetable dishes. Roasted Sinhalese curry powder - bathapu thuna paha - has more intense flavours than the unroasted version, which means it can stand up to the flavours of meat dishes. It's often sprinkled at the end of cooking to add a fragrant finish.

Ingredients

For the thuna paha

  • 200 g (7 oz/3 cups) coriander seeds
  • 100 g (3½ oz/1 cup) cumin seeds
  • 50 g (1½ oz/½ cup) fennel seeds
  • 4  2.5 cm (1 inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 20 fresh curry leaves

For the roasted thuna paha

  • 200 g (7 oz/3 cups) coriander seeds
  • 100 g (3½ oz/1 cup) cumin seeds
  • 50 g (1½ oz/4 tbsp) uncooked white rice (basmati or patna)
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3  2.5 cm (1 inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 10  2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces of rampe (pandan) leaf
  • 20 fresh curry leaves
  • 7 dried red chillies
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 10 cloves
  • 30 g (1 oz/3 tbsp) black peppercorns

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.

Instructions

Makes: enough for about 25 curry dishes

To make thuna paha, put all the ingredients into a spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. You may have to do this in batches, depending on the size of the grinder. Mix the blended powder well and keep it in an airtight container for 2 months.

 

Roasted thuna paha, in a dry frying pan (skillet) set over a low heat, dry-roast the first four ingredients separately until golden brown. Shake the pan to avoid burning. Set aside in a medium bowl.

In the same pan, dry-roast the cinnamon sticks for about a minute. Add the rampe leaf and roast for about 30 seconds, and then add the curry leaves and roast together for another 30 seconds until beginning to colour. Add to the other roasted ingredients in the bowl.

Dry-roast the remaining ingredients together until beginning to colour, then add them to the other ingredients. Stir to combine.

Put all the ingredients into a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Do this in batches, depending on the size of the grinder. Mix the blend and store in an airtight container.

 

Recipe from Sri Lanka the Cookbook by Prakash K Sivanathan and Niranjala M Ellawala (Murdoch Books, pb, $39.99). Photography © Kim Lightbody.