Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry recipe

A versatile and flavourful dish from Sri Lanka, this beetroot curry is a great vegetarian-friendly recipe. DESIblitz shows you how to make it.


The beetroot is cooked just to the point where it is tender, but still has bite to it.

This Sri Lankan beetroot curry, sweet and spicy, is a perfect accompaniment to a main dish, but also can stand on its own as a vegetarian-friendly meal.

Eating this dish as a main, it is best paired with rice, and works well with a helping of lightly wilted spinach. Heat the spinach through but don’t cook it for too long.

Its firm texture and robust flavour match up to the dishes flavour palate well, and will fill you up nicely.

DESIblitz heads to the kitchen and finds out how to whip up a delicious Sri Lankan beetroot curry!

Beetroot Curry (serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side dish; prep time 15 minutes, cooking time 20-30 minutes)


  • 50g ghee
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 long green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 3cm piece of pandanus leaf (or bay leaf if pandanus unavailable)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp of chilli powder
  • 3 tsp of white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 200ml coconut milk

Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry recipe


  • Put the ghee in a pan on a medium heat and let it melt, avoid burning.
  • Cook the onions and chopped chillies on a medium-low heat for 6-8 minutes or until translucent.Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry recipe
  • Add the pandanus leaf (or bay leaf), curry leaves, cinnamon and garlic, and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the beetroot, spices, white vinegar and coconut milk, mix well and cook.
  • If you are using uncooked beetroot, cook on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can also cook the beetroot stems and leaves. Don’t worry, they aren’t poisonous!Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry recipe
  • If you are using cooked beetroot, follow the same instructions, but cook it for a much shorter time. 3 minutes should do more than fine.
  • When the beetroot is tender but still firm, season to taste and serve immediately.Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry recipe

The beetroot curry is a perfect addition to a number of Sri Lankan curry dishes. The dish acts as a softer counter-balance to the heat of a main dish.

Sri Lankan cuisine is famously hot, incorporating a number of influences from Southern India, which came about during Sri Lanka’s time as a spice producer and a trading post for merchants.

Coconuts are abundant in the country, and feature heavily in the cuisine, alongside other fruits.

An extremely attractive dish, the dark pink hue of the beetroot is complemented by the creamy tones of the coconut milk that invite hungry eyes.

This dish has a straightforward but sophisticated flavour profile.

Sweet, earthy tones from the beetroot and coconut milk are offset by the garlic, chillies and coriander, giving the dish a balanced tone that pares well with fish dishes and other curries that have an emphasis on heat.

This curry also works well as a main course. Avid carnivores, and those concerned that the relatively modest core ingredients might not sate their burning hunger, should note that this is a deceptively filling dish.

The beetroot is cooked just to the point where it is tender, but still has bite to it. Its subtle flavour interspersed with pangs of heat that warm the back of your throat.

Cautious about trying such an unusual dish? Give it a try, you may be surprised at how much you like it.

Tom is a political science graduate and an avid gamer. He has a great love of science fiction and chocolate, but only the latter has made him gain weight. He has no life motto, instead just a series of grunts.

Photos by DESIblitz. Additional image courtesy of SBS Food

Recipe adapted from SBS Food

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