Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Jaffna Roasted Curry Powder


Jaffna roasted curry powder is a speciality almost unique to Jaffna and perhaps is copied everywhere else now. This is not available as pastes in jars still but is available as Jaffna roasted curry powder in different size packs in grocery shops.

In Jaffna, roasted curry powder was made from raw ingredients and it was a lengthy procedure. This involved dry roasting of the ingredients and grinding them in a grinding mill or hand pounded at home. This mixture can then be stored for a long time. This powder was mainly used in meat and crab curries giving them the distinctive flavour of Yarlpanam.

However, nowadays in the West this procedure cannot be adopted as roasting in the open is impossible and grinding machines are not available commercially. So the easier way is to buy raw ground products and mix them in the proportion to ones liking and roast this mixture in the oven. This needs some experience and care and supervision so as not to overdo the roasting and to be careful with the proportions of the blend. Trial and error will make a perfect blend so start making small amounts first until the taste and flavour suits you.

Better and easier still, the blended Jaffna roasted curry powder is available in Asian supermarkets and retail shops and readily available at a fraction of the cost and labour. Many different products are available and our advise is that you should buy a known brand (ask your friends or go by recommendations) and try it yourself and if you like it stick to it.

Just to give you an idea how they are made, here is the recipe for the roasted curry powder.


Dry red chillies 250 Gms - with or without stalk
Coriander seeds 250 Gms - clean, wash and dried
Black Pepper 50 Gms
Cumin seeds 50 Gms
Fennel seeds 75 Gms
Fenugreek 20 Gms
Turmeric 5 cm long piece
Curry leaves 20


Dry roast in low fire the cumin, fennel seeds and fenugreek in a pan and when fennel seeds are Golden remove them and set aside.

In the same pan dry roast the rest of the ingredients separately, keep stirring constantly to avoid burning of the ingredients.

When ready, grind all the ingredients except the curry leaves together grinder to a fine powder.

Now add the roasted curry leaves with this mixture and allow to cool before storing. This will give you a hotter version. Adjust the dried chillies and pepper to suit your taste.

When roasting, care should be taken to avoid over roasting or ingredients becoming burnt.


Buy separate powders of ingredients with similar weights and mix them to form a blended powder.

Roast this powder in an oven at low temperature and keep stirring every few minutes.

When colour changes to dark, remove, stir and let it cool well before storing.

Be warned that there will be very strong smell of chillies around the house and the colour of the mixture can get burnt very quickly - constant supervision is necessary.