Sri-Lankan Ceylon Recipe – Pork Belly Curry

Another Sri-Lankan curry today. This time a beautiful, sweet and sour pork belly Ceylon curry recipe with chilli, coconut milk, brown sugar and a splash of vinegar.

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Pork Ceylon Curry with herbs and spices.


So, we recently established that Sri-Lankan dishes are pretty damned tasty. I will back up my claim with a simple link to this beautiful Sri-Lankan pork curry recipe.

Today, then, we have another. This time, it’s a Ceylon curry. A simple, Sri-Lankan pork belly curry using coconut milk, a little brown sugar for sweetness and some apple cider vinegar to really bite into that pork.


Naturally, as well, we’ll be using a host of the usual spices. But we will obviously be doing so with Sri-Lankan flavours in mind. And with the appropriateness of those flavours with pork.

For example, using pork means using apple cider vinegar. Using apple cider vinegar has meant using cinnamon. So hopefully, you’ll find, as I do, the dish to be a really tasty, really balanced mixture of flavours.

Sri Lankan Pork Belly Curry Recipe

About this dish – Sri-Lankan Ceylon

A Ceylon curry doesn’t need to contain pork. It certainly doesn’t need to be made with pork belly, but I do find pork belly brings a fattiness and depth that really works wonderfully. I must confess, however, to having padded it out with a little shoulder in this instance. Another fine cut of meat for a dish like this one.

Along with the spices I mentioned above, we’re going to use star anise in this one. This is, again, because its aniseed flavour goes so fantastically well with pork. And with the coconutty sauce. And just in general. Fennel would also go wonderfully here. But there’s no need to use both.


Mustard seeds are another very potent flavour that goes well with pork and that feature in Sri-Lankan cuisine. They also pair very nicely with the brown sugar we’ll be using to sweeten the dish. If you imagine the flavour profile of honey-mustard, but a little more refined and restrained, and then woven beautifully into the flavours of a curry. Perfect.

Cloves, chilli, onion, tomato … all common faces in the curry world and all equally present here. A powerful supporting cast to the dominant flavours in the dish.

Sri-Lankan food has a lot in common with South Indian food and both do their thing very, very well. They take the best of Indian flavours and they make them a little fresher and a little sharper. As if somehow bridging the very evident gap between India’s amazing earthy flavours and the decidedly fresher flavours used elsewhere in Asian cuisines.

That beautiful, separated layer of fat is beautifully indicative of a ceylon curry gone right.

A quick guide to this Sri Lankan Pork Belly Curry

A little prep goes a long way. The bare base prep for this dish is chopping the onions and dicing up the pork. Once those are done, set the onions aside and sear the pork until it’s brown all over. Use only the tiniest splash of oil to sear the pork. The fat will render quickly and should be kept for cooking the onions.

Next up, we’ll toast the whole spices, in a very hot, dry pan with no oil. Just for long enough that they begin to turn brittle. Then we’ll grind them up and mix them with the other powdered spices, to be used in the dish shortly after. We’ll leave the mustard seeds, star anise and cinnamon out of this step. For a little bite and pop later on.

We’ll make a paste from garlic and ginger and we’ll throw a bunch of chopped green chillies in with that paste. They can just be finely chopped, although you could blend them into it as well.


And then we’ll start to cook. First, the onions, which we’ll cook in the rendered pork fat. A little salt will help draw out the moisture and help to caramelise the onions. The star anise and cinnamon can go in at this stage as well.

After a few minutes, the mustard seeds can go in. Followed a few minutes later by the spice powder, then the paste and chillies and eventually the tomato paste.

Next, we’ll put the meat back into braise in the coconut milk we’re about to pour on top. Then we’ll reduce everything down until the coconut milk splits and the sauce thickens.

A little brown sugar and a little cider vinegar and we’re there.

Nice big pieces of pork belly make this curry what it is.

A few final things to remember

  • Play around with the meat if you need to. Like I mentioned above, I actually used a couple of different cuts of pork. After all, when you’re braising something for this long, it’s pretty much always going to melt into something beautiful. Just steer clear of the super-lean cuts. They can dry out.
  • Same goes for chicken. Breast, half an hour max, to cook. Leg, a little longer. You’ll still need to reduce the sauce first, though, so I’d recommend doing it separately.
  • Play around a little with the spices as well, if you like. These are very pork friendly spices, while still being appropriate for Sri-Lankan cuisine. If you’re using chicken or lamb for example, something else might take your fancy. And that’s absolutely fine.
  • You ideally want to use full fat coconut milk. If you don’t, it won’t split as it cooks. This isn’t the most important thing in the world, but it is something to look out for. If you keep expecting it to split and it doesn’t, you might end up reducing it too far.

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Sri-Lankan Ceylon Recipe – Pork Belly Curry

Another Sri-Lankan curry today. A beautiful, sweet and sour pork belly Ceylon curry recipe with chilli, coconut milk, sugar and vinegar.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 20 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2



  • 400 g Pork Belly or shoulder or any other braising cut
  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 lrg White Onion


  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 inches Fresh Ginger
  • 4 Green Chillies


  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 5 Cloves
  • 5 Cardamom Pods
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 6 Curry Leaves
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Chilli Powder


  • Brown Sugar
  • Cider Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Cooking Oil



  • Chop the onions and set them aside for later. You may as well throw the star anise, mustard seeds and cinnamon in with them.
  • Dice up the pork and brown it in a hot pan with a tiny splash of oil, then set aside for later. The fat will render out quickly and heavily. Keep this fat in the pan.
  • Toast the cardamom and cloves for just long enough that they brittle and the scent lifts from the pan. Grind them up and mix them with the other powdered spices, except those in with the onions.
  • Peel and finely dice the ginger and garlic, then grind them into a paste and add to them a whole load of very finely chopped green chillies. Alternatively, you could grind the chillies in with the paste itself.


  • Caramelise the onions in the rendered pork fat with a little salt to help draw out the moisture. Naturally, the star anise, cinnamon and mustard seeds will go into the pan now as well. You want to cook these ingredients for about 10 minutes on a low heat before adding the dry spices and stirring them together.
  • Turn the heat up to medium and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the paste and cook for 1 – 2 more.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and add the meat back to the pot, followed by a whole can of coconut milk. Reduce the sauce down at a gentle simmer on a low-medium temperature over the course of about a couple of hours, or until the sauce splits and thickens.
  • Season with any extra salt you might need and with a little brown sugar and some cider vinegar, then serve.
Keyword ceylon, ceylon curry, ceylon pork, pork, pork ceylon, pork curry, sri lankan curry, sri lankan pork

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