Polos Curry (Sri Lankan Jackfruit Coconut Curry) Recipe

Polos curry is a traditional Sri Lankan coconut curry that typically features jackfruit, a lesser-known tropical fruit. When ripe, jackfruit is sweet with a banana-like flavor. But it's the unripe green jackfruit we'll be using here, which is available canned and has recently grown in popularity as a plant-based meat substitute due to its mild flavor and a texture reminiscent of shredded chicken or pulled pork. However, in this Sri Lankan curry jackfruit is not meant to mimic another ingredient, but is delicious in its own right, soaking up the spicy coconut curry sauce. Try this creamy, pungent curry and discover the myriad flavors within this island nation's cuisine.

According to Ksenia Prints of At the Immigrant's Table, Sri Lankan cuisine is known for its bold and aromatic flavors. With a long history of colonization, proximity to culinary behemoth India, and the indigenous influence of the country's original people, the Veddas, Sri Lanka's cuisine is a flavorful melting pot that reflects its rich cultural heritage and many diverse influences. Perfectly emblematic of this fusion of history and flavors, this creamy curry combines fresh plants, aromatic spices, and coconut with Indian and Malay flavor influences that deliver a punch of flavors.

So pour yourself a glass of cold beer (Sri Lankan Lion lager is our personal favorite pairing), and dig into this warming curry with a big piece of super-soft roti. The leftovers taste even better the next day, so don't rush to finish it all!

Gather the Ingredients for polos curry

The secret to this aromatic curry is the perfect combination of roasted spice with creamy coconut milk. To make the seasoning, you will need mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, green cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick, and dried or fresh curry leaves. These whole spices will be toasted and then ground and mixed with coconut oil or ghee, a green chili or two, if you're feeling brave, some grated ginger and turmeric powder. Shredded green jackfruit and a can of coconut milk are all you'll need to complete this foray into Sri Lankan flavors. And trust us, once you try it you'll probably want to go back and explore more!

Step 1: Toast the spices

In a small pan, dry roast the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and the curry leaves until fragrant.

Step 2: Grind the spice mix

Remove from the heat and coarsely grind.

Step 3: Saute green chilies with spice mix

Heat coconut oil in a large pan or pot over medium heat. Add the sliced green chilies and the roasted spice mixture. Saute for 1 minute.

Step 4: Add shallots

Add the diced shallot and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Step 5: Add garlic and ginger

Add the minced garlic and grated ginger. Saute for 1 minute.

Step 6: Add turmeric

Stir in the turmeric powder and salt. Cook for 1 minute.

Step 7: Add jackfruit and coconut milk

Add the shredded jackfruit and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer.

Step 8: Reduce the heat and simmer

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the jackfruit is tender and the curry has thickened.

Step 7: Serve the jackfruit curry

Adjust seasoning with salt if needed and serve hot with rice or roti, if desired.

Polos Curry (Sri Lankan Jackfruit Coconut Curry) Recipe
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Polos, a traditional Sri Lankan plant-based curry, combines meaty jackfruit in a creamy, pungent coconut milk sauce flavored with a freshly-ground spice mix.
Prep Time
20
minutes
Cook Time
30
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
Bowl of jackfruit curry with wooden spoon
Total time: 50 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 curry leaves, dried or fresh
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large green chili, sliced (adjust to desired heat level)
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 (20-ounce) can green jackfruit, drained and shredded
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • Salt, to taste
Directions
  1. Instructions:
  2. In a small pan, dry roast the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and the curry leaves until fragrant.
  3. Remove from the heat and coarsely grind.
  4. Heat coconut oil in a large pan or pot over medium heat. Add the sliced green chilies and the roasted spice mixture. Saute for 1 minute.
  5. Add the diced shallot and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger. Saute for 1 minute.
  7. Stir in the turmeric powder and salt. Cook for 1 minute.
  8. Add the shredded jackfruit and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer.
  9. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the jackfruit is tender and the curry has thickened.
  10. Adjust seasoning with salt if needed and serve hot with rice or roti, if desired.
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What are some tips for roasting and grinding your own spice mix?

Many of us pride ourselves on having a well-stocked spice cabinet — but the secret to truly flavorful curries and stews is a spice grinder, a pan, and an understanding of how to roast and grind your own spice mixes. Whole spices purchased from a reputable store with a high turnover have much more flavor and aroma than their ground counterparts. Roasting further releases their oils, infusing the food with more punch and flavor. 

To properly roast your spice, start with a pan preheated to medium heat without any oil. A cast iron or even copper pan will be best. You will then arrange your spices in the pan and heat them on medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until they start to smell fragrant. The moment the spices release their aromas, remove them from the pan and grind them immediately in a spice grinder, clean coffee grinder, food processor, or even with a mortar and pestle. This will prevent them from burning and going acrid. The finer the grind, the more flavor your spice mix will have. Finally, for the best mixes, make only as much as you need and store any leftover spice mix in a cool dark place. Roasting intensifies the aromas and flavors of spices, while grinding just before use unlocks their fullest essence.

What are some good ways to serve this jackfruit curry?

This rich and flavorful coconut-based curry pairs perfectly with steamed basmati rice or fragrant jeera rice. Freshly made roti, naan, or other soft Indian or Sri Lankan breads are perfect for soaking up the sauce. This jackfruit curry also goes well with dosas (lentil and rice crepes) such as masala dosa. You could also serve it with papadums or other crispy lentil wafers for scooping. 

Top with fresh cilantro, sliced red onions, or a sprinkle of crunchy sev noodles for added flavor and texture. A dollop of cool yogurt or a cucumber-yogurt raita can help balance the heat. Or if you want to pay a true homage to this curry's origins, serve it as part of a Sri Lankan-inspired meal alongside a green apple curry recipe, Sri Lankan egg hopper, or even a bowl of kanji, a seemingly innocuous rice porridge that has a more complex political history than you might think.