Sri Lankan mushroom curry (බිම්මල් මාලුව) is an unforgettable vegan recipe, packed with flavor! This oyster mushroom curry was one of my favorites growing up, but it can easily be made with any type of mushroom!
A delicious and easy Sri Lankan Mushroom Curry that can be made with any type of mushroom!
Even though the term curry is synonymous with chicken curry and other proteins, there’s so much more to it than that. This oyster mushroom curry from Sri Lanka proves how incredibly flavorful and simple a vegetarian curry can be. Even hardcore meat eaters won’t miss the meat if this mushroom curry was part of your vegetarian spread.
Growing up, I ate vegetarian meals often, and this Sri Lankan oyster mushroom curry was (and still is) one of my absolute favorites!
Can I use other types of mushroom to make this curry?
Absolutely. Here’s a list of mushroom types you can use to make this mushroom curry.
- Cremini mushrooms
- Button mushrooms
- Portobello mushrooms
- King oyster mushrooms
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Oyster mushrooms (my personal favorite, and what I’ve used here.)
- Maitake mushrooms
Fun fact – Cremini, button, and portobello mushrooms are actually the same mushroom. Button mushrooms are the baby version, cremini mushrooms are when they are a little larger, and portobello mushrooms are the more mature, even larger version.
Oyster mushrooms are my favorite because of their unique umami flavor! They have a subtle seafood-like flavor (very subtle), and I love their velvety texture too.
Depending on the mushroom you use to make this mushroom curry, the flavor profile of the curry will be slightly different. The main flavor of this curry of course comes from the curry powder and coconut milk, but the flavor of the mushroom is key as well.
How to prep mushrooms for a curry
If you’re using whole mushrooms, these CAN be washed! I would avoid washing sliced mushrooms however, since they can absorb too much water.
The mushrooms can be cut into slices, or smaller pieces. This applies to any mushroom from the cremini family, or shiitake mushrooms or king oyster mushrooms as well.
However, oyster mushrooms are very delicate. They don’t need to be cut, and can be ripped into sections by hand. This is also true for maitake mushrooms.
Making the curry powder for the mushroom curry
I use the same Sri Lankan curry powder here that I use for nearly every Sri Lankan curry. You can find this curry powder recipe here.
You can use other curry powders for this recipe as well, but keep in mind that the curry powder largely dictates the main flavor profile of your curry.
Supermarket curry powders that are usually bright yellow in color are heavy on turmeric and don’t include a sufficient variety of spices to give them the depth of flavor you need for a curry. In other words, those curry powders are trash.
So, I do recommend that you either make the curry powder from my recipe, or do buy a good quality Sri Lankan curry powder or Madras curry powder from an Asian / Indian grocery store. It makes a huge difference and they will last a good long while and make you great many delicious curries!
The curry powder I use has,
- Coriander seeds
- Black pepper
These are the most important ingredients. But I also like to include,
- Rice (for thickening)
What other spices do I need to make this Sri Lankan oyster mushroom curry?
Apart from the curry powder, you will also be adding,
- Chili powder (cayenne pepper, or other Indian chili powder – but NOT Mexican chili powder)
- Curry leaves
The standard curry additions of onion, garlic, and ginger are also used here, as well as green chili.
All the ingredients add incredible flavor and depth to the curry, BUT you can also be flexible with these ingredients.
Can I make substitutions in the recipe?
You can leave out the green chili / dried red chili, and the chili powder if you don’t want a spicy curry. We love spicy curries so we do add plenty of heat. But this recipe as written is adapted to be about medium spicy (mild for us). Heat and spiciness are subjective of course, so PLEASE adjust the spice levels to your preference.
You can leave out the curry leaves, or substitute those with a bay leaf instead. If you have pandan leaves (rampe), you can add a 2 – 3 inch piece of that to the curry as well.
If you’re using my homemade curry powder recipe, then you could maybe skip the extra fennel and cardamom, because the curry powder will have those spices anyway (I do still use extra fennel and cardamom in the recipe though).
How to make the Sri Lankan Mushroom Curry
This oyster mushroom is so easy and quick! Yet the results are super flavorful and satisfying.
The first step is to make the spice base for the curry. Heat some oil in a saucepan or saute pan, and saute the onion, garlic, and ginger.
Add the green chili, curry leaves, and curry powder to the same pot. Followed by the rest of the spices. Saute for just a few seconds. Add the mushrooms, and saute the mushrooms for a few minutes.
When cooking the mushrooms, it’s important to not let them wither too much. The oyster mushrooms should take up the spices and be coated by them, and just be very slightly caramelized in spots. Also remember to season as you go.
Once the oyster mushrooms are sautéed, it’s time to add the coconut milk and water. When the oyster mushroom curry comes to a boil, it is ready to be enjoyed! HOWEVER, I do prefer to let it simmer for a further 10 minutes. This concentrates the flavor and the coconut milk splits a little. (I love the flavor of this mushroom curry when the coconut milk splits a little. This is not true of all curries however.)
BUT if you’d like to keep the curry nice and creamy, then you can choose not to cook the mushroom curry for too long after adding the coconut milk.
Do a final taste test, and add salt to taste. Now your Sri Lankan Oyster Mushroom Curry is ready to be served (and eaten!).
How to serve the Sri Lankan Mushroom Curry
This curry is perfect with just some steamed or spiced rice!
But you can also serve this with other fantastic vegetarian or vegan curries such as,
Why I love this recipe
This is one of my favorite vegan curries ever! And my husband’s too. This curry is one of the best meat substitutes that I know of for those picky eaters who love their meats.
Since I couldn’t find oyster mushrooms where I used to live in the US, I wasn’t able to make this curry for years. I still made it with cremini mushrooms, but it does taste even better with oyster mushrooms. So much flavor, and such a simple recipe to boot.
Sri Lankan Oyster Mushroom Curry
- 340 g oyster mushrooms or any other type of mushroom
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 small onion sliced
- 2 green chili or 1 jalapeno
- 4 garlic cloves 5 if the cloves are small
- ½ tbsp ginger finely chopped
- 2 – 3 dried red chili
- 8 curry leaves or anywhere between 5 – 10
- 2 ¼ tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
- ½ tsp ground fennel seeds
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- Salt to taste
- ¾ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup water
- Wash the mushrooms, and pat them dry with paper towels or a clean cloth napkin.
- Tear the oyster mushrooms into smaller pieces with your hands. If you’re using cremini mushrooms, slice them instead.
- Slice the garlic if the cloves are large. Or you can keep them whole if the cloves are small.
- Slice the green chili lengthwise. If you want less heat, carefully remove the seeds and the white pith in the chili.
- In a medium pot or medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute until they start to soften. Add the green chili, garlic, ginger, red chili, and curry leaves, and saute until the onions are translucent (a couple more minutes, depending on your stove). Do NOT let the onion, garlic, or ginger burn.
- Add the curry powder, fennel seeds, cardamom, cayenne pepper, and turmeric, and saute for about 30 seconds, or until you can smell the spices. Add a generous pinch of salt as well.
- Add the mushrooms and saute for 10 – 15 minutes. The mushrooms should be coated well with the spices, and get just a little bit of color from caramelization.
- When the mushrooms have lightly caramelized, add the coconut milk, and about ¼ cup of the water. Add another pinch of salt (it's important to season as you go).
- Mix the curry, and increase the heat to bring the coconut milk and water to a boil. Then lower the heat and let it simmer for at least a few more minutes.
- If you'd like a creamy curry, then you can serve this after just a few minutes of simmering.
- However, I personally prefer to let the curry simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes, which will split the coconut milk and concentrate the flavor further. Add another ¼ cup of water if you'd like more curry sauce/gravy at the end.
- Taste, and adjust the salt level to your taste.
- Serve while warm.
Tips & Tricks
Note on mushroomsYou can use cremini, button, portobello, shiitake, or king oyster mushrooms as well. But these will need to sliced first to use in this curry. You can use maitake mushrooms as well, and these don’t need to be cut. They can also be torn into pieces with your hands like the oyster mushrooms here. I do not recommend using enoki mushrooms for this recipe.
Note on the cook timeThe cook time will increase by about 10 minutes if you’d like more concentrated flavor in your curry as mentioned in step 12 above (where the coconut milk splits). However, if you prefer a quicker curry with a creamier sauce, then the cook time is as written in the recipe card.
Note on the spiciness/heat level of the curryThe recipe as written yields a medium spicy curry (mild for me). So you can adjust the spice level to your preference.
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”