The Sri Lankan Umami –yellow curry seasoning base

I love my food. Above all the Sri Lankan food. In any day ,a rice bowl with three curried vegetables one curried meat, a fried papadam, a Salad is my dream meal. However, I do not get to eat my favorite meals as often as I like, because it takes long time to prepare from scratch . In that at least, I feel lucky I do a cooking blog where I get to experiment on how to recreate my favorite recipes to fit my life and likes of my family and write about it.

Today I am happy to share with you one such happy outcome. To all my Sri Lankan friends you can easily make this and keep in the fridge or freezer to use whenever your heart desires a Sri Lankan meal. To my many other friends reading my blog from all over the world, do not despair or think this is too complicated to make. I promise you if decide to make it. result is going to be extremely rewarding, and you will get to enjoy one of the best marinades, BBQ spice rubs, seasoning base for sauces, or salad dressing. Whatever you want to call it, taste is going to be the best.

Before we step in to making this seasoning base let me explain little bit about key ingredients that give unique Sri Lankan taste to it. and why I call them the Sri Lankan Umami. Specific condiments below, are going to be distinct and refreshing in yellow curried vegetables and black pork or fish curry.

  • Coconut – Scraped coconut meat and cream is often used in Sri Lankan, Indian, Thai, and Indonesian cooking.
  • Pandan leaves – Fresh leaves of pandan plan is a popular spice in southeast Asian and south Asian cooking.
  • Garcinia – Dried fruits of the Garcinia gummi-gutta plant is often used for its sour flavor and dark colour in seafood and meat curries. We use it on regular basis Sri Lankan cooking, but this condiment is also popular in Kerala and southeast Asia.
  • Canned anchovies – I always have it in hand for marinara sauces and sandwiches. Anchovies elevate the flavor of seasoning base to next level. I take the liberty to call it the Sri Lankan bacon. No offence bacon!
  • Tomato paste – of course this ingredient needs no introduction.

throughout the history, Sri Lankan cooking has inspired by the elements of southeast Asian, southern European, African, and south Asian cooking. Each has its own flavor profiles and uses verity of condiments. In my opinion above five condiments we may have got from different cultures are perfectly blended in to Sri Lankan cooking and are not replaceable when it comes to making our curries. So I call them Sri Lankan umami.

Let us begin. You are going to need a high-speed food processor or mortar and pastel for grinding and heavy bottomed skillet for tempering.

Sri Lankan Yellow Curry Paste


  1. Handful of curry leaves
  2. 5 Thai hot green peppers
  3. One whole stick of lemongrass
  4. Pinch of cinnamon powder
  5. 1 inch piece of ginger
  6. 1 tsp of garlic powder
  7. 2 tsp of onion powder
  8. 1 tsp of turmeric
  9. Half a tsp of black pepper
  10. 1 tbsp. of coconut vinegar
  11. 3 tbsp. of desiccated coconut flakes
  12. 1 tsp of corn starch
  13. 1 tbsp. of Pandan leaves dried.
  14. 2 tbsp. of virgin coconut oil
  15. Salt to taste


Process everything except coconut oil until smooth with just enough water to make a thick paste. Add coconut oil and process for another minute.

Place a heavy bottomed skillet or a wok on low flame and gently heat tablespoon of coconut oil. Once melted and warm add the paste and gently warm until turns dark green and aromatic. It may only take couple of minutes. It does not need to be cooked thoroughly just warm through to marry the spices together.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container. curry paste stays good up to week in fridge and longer in freezer. if you decide to make a larger batch freeze, leave it on counter overnight to thaw it.

Yellow curry paste works well with vegetables. To make a light sauce for a vegetable and lentils, add 2 tablespoons of the paste to can of thick coconut cream and heat through add your vegetable or white fish to the sauce and cook. Adjust the salt.

Yellow Lentil Curry

 Rinse and soak a cup of red lentils for half and hour. Add a tablespoon of yellow curry paste and a can of coconut cream. Cook in low to medium flame until done. Adjust the salt to taste.

Air fried mackerel /tilapia/ chicken breast/ jumbo shrimp

Clean the mackerel fish and cut into stakes. Coat with the yellow curry paste and a teaspoon of salt. Marinate 30 minutes to an hour. make a batter with coconut milk, an egg, two tablespoons of flour, pinch of salt and teaspoon of turmeric. Dip in the batter and coat in panko breadcrumbs. Air fry until golden brown.

I hope you will enjoy making your own version of air fried veggies, seafood, or curry with this seasoning blend. Enjoy and look forward seeing you with the part two with this series to talk about how to make red curry paste and another awesome curry combinations.

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