Sri Lankan Roast Curry Powder
Without needing to spell out the obvious you can't have a Sri Lankan curry without good old Sri Lankan curry powder. Even though the Indian curry powder of Garam Masala is easily accessible, unfortunately you can't use this as a substitute in Sri Lankan cooking as its nothing like Sri Lankan curry powder, and quite frankly it ain't a damn sight as good as it either!
Fair enough if you can't be bothered to make the curry powder from scratch, you can buy some good pre-made versions in south asian shops which are dark brown in colour and called 'Roasted Curry Powder'. But for those of you who would like your own stash, then this is how you go about it.
8 dried chillies
1 cinnamon stick
3 sprigs of curry leaves
2 tablespoons of coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon of pepper corn seeds
1/2 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon of fennel seeds
6 cardamom seeds
1/2 tablespoon of mustard seeds
Heat up a heavy bottomed frying pan till the pan is hot and dry. It is important to add these spices in at different times so that they don't all burn, so pay attention! Firstly add in the dried chillies and curry leaves and give them maybe half a minute or so to soak up some of the heat. Then add in the coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, fenugreek seeds, pepper corns, cardamoms and cloves. Keep tossing these about with the pan on a medium-high heat. You will know when they are roasting as the fenugreek seeds will get darker in colour and the redness from the chillies will deepen. Once this happens, turn the heat down to low and add in the fennel seeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Keep stirring for another minute or two. The smell by now is just amazing! Ammie said that it reminded her of being in Sri Lanka and the smells of roasting spices wafting into the home, its really like no other.
Then take the dry mixture and spoon it into a blender, I used an old coffee grinder we have which works perfectly. Blend until you get a fine, fragrant blend of spices. Then keep in an air tight jar for ever (as I really don't think this will ever go off!).