Sri Lankan Vattakka Kalu Pol Currya

Chef Numi’s Sri Lankan Vattakka Kalu Pol Currya

Sri Lankan cuisine is more than just food, according to chef and cookery teacher Numi, it's an integral part of Sri Lankan culture - "It's about sharing, it's about identity, and hospitality".

And with the cold winter nights looming, nothing quite beats the smell of exotic spices wafting through your home so here, Numi shares her incredible recipe for Vattakka Kalu Pol Currya (that’s yellow pumpkin curry to you and me) – perfect for autumn entertaining.

Numi's Sri Lankan Vattakka Kalu Poi Curray

(Yellow Pumpkin Curry) 

Prep time – 15 mins

Cooking time – 30 mins

Serves 5 


For the Kalu Pol spice powder:

2 tbsp freshly grated (or desiccated) coconut

1 tbsp raw rice

2 pods cardamom

2 cloves
A small piece of cinnamon


For the pumpkin curry:

1 lb yellow pumpkin

2 tbsp chopped onions

1 chopped medium green chilli

4 curry leaves

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp chilli powder (optional)

1 tsp coriander powder

1⁄2 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp cumin powder

1 cup water

1 cup thick coconut milk*

1 tsp salt


For the tempering:

3 tbsp oil

2 tbsp chopped onions

1 tbsp crushed garlic

2 level tsp black mustard seeds

2 dried chillies, cut into pieces


* If using coconut milk powder, to make one cup of thick coconut milk, mix 2 1⁄2 heaped tbsp of coconut milk powder with 3⁄4 cup of warm water.


Kalu Pol spice powder

  • Roast all of the ingredients in a small flat frying pan on a very low flame, taking care not to burn them. Keep stirring until the mix becomes light-brown and fragrant. 
  • Once it turns light-brown, take the pan off the fire, and grind the mixture into a fine powder, using a spice or coffee grinder.

Pumpkin curry

  • Cut the skin off the pumpkin and cut into chunks. Wash and place them in the pan.
  • Add all the ingredients except the coconut milk. Cook on a medium fire uncovered, until the pumpkin is cooked but firm to the touch. Be careful not to overcook the pumpkin as it will get too mushy. Some varieties may need extra water to cook.
  • Reduce the flame to very low and add the coconut milk and 1 tbsp of Kalu Pol powder, mixing extremely carefully, taking care not to break the pumpkin chunks.
  • Cook for a further 4 minutes. Take off the fire and keep aside. The curry should be thick and creamy.
  • At this stage check and add salt to test if needed. 


  • Heat the oil in a small frying pan, over a low heat.
9. Add the garlic and onions, and slow fry until golden-brown and fragrant.
10. Add the mustard seeds and the dried chillies and continue to fry until the mustard seeds pop.
11. Add the mixture to the pumpkin curry and close with a lid so the aroma infuses into the curry. This dish is best served with steamed rice.

Numi’s Top Tip

You can store the Kalu Pol (black coconut) Spice powder in an airtight jar for several months. It is used for a number of Sri Lankan curries.

Numi runs a series of authentic Sri Lankan cookery classes and supper clubs from her home in South London. You can find her in our Little Black Book or view her website for more details.


Posted in Recipe

by Sophie Farrah
on on 27 October 2016

  curry night, date night

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