Spicy, tangy and sweet, this Sri Lankan Devilled Beef (Spicy Dry Beef Curry) recipe combines Sri Lankan and Chinese cuisine with devilishly flavorful results! A staple in many Sri Lankan restaurants, and the perfect side dish to enjoy with a cold beer, this recipe can also be made with chicken, pork, lamb or mutton as well.
As I’ve told you guys before, Sri Lankan food is inherently spicy (as long as it’s not “hospital food” that’s intended for patients who can’t handle the heat and spice). Regular Sri Lankan curries are influenced by this affection for heat and spices, and by the influence from Indian cuisine from long ago. Since then the Sri Lankan food landscape has evolved and developed its own style and flavor profiles, thanks in part to the additional influence of being colonized by different nations over centuries, and by the rich heritage of different cultures like the Sri Lankan Tamil, Muslim and Burgher communities.
But there’s a relatively new addition to Sri Lankan cuisine, as a result of the South East Asian population that has called Sri Lanka home for a few generations, giving rise to Sri Lankan-Chinese food! Very similar to Indo-Chinese food, it combines the cooking techniques and flavors of East Asian cuisine with what is popular locally.
This is where Devilled Curries (or deviled, US spelling) found their origin.
Whether it’s devilled beef curry, devilled chicken curry, devilled pork curry or devilled mutton curry – this type of curry is extremely popular and is a permanent fixture in Sri Lankan restaurants. A Sri Lankan devilled curry is a dry curry where the meat is cooked with a little caramelization, then stir-fried with banana peppers, tomatoes, onions and some spices. Suffice to say there’s plenty of chili pepper involved, but the good news is that you can adjust the heat level to your taste and the underlying flavor profile will still be the same.
One change that I made to this recipe is the use of Anaheim peppers because I don’t have access to banana peppers. Anaheim peppers are spicier than banana peppers, and I always use anaheim for any recipe that calls for banana peppers. They still retain the sweetness of banana peppers, but with that extra kick.
This Sri Lankan Devilled Beef Curry (Spicy Dry Beef Curry) is easy to make, and so flavorful! Tender pieces of beef, stir-fried with anaheim or banana peppers, onions and tomatoes. The predominant flavors in this Sri Lankan devilled beef curry dish come from the curry powder, tomato sauce, sugar, vinegar, crushed chili flakes and soy sauce.
This is a popular dish that served with cold beer as well! Here the beef is cut into bigger chunks, but cooked the same way as a spicy dish that complements a cold beer perfectly! But you can just as easily make this dish with chicken, pork or even sausages.
Here are some tips on how to make the most flavorful, and tender Sri Lankan Devilled Beef.
- Use a good cut of marbled beef. The marbled fat will help keep the beef tender. The leaner the cut, the tougher the beef will be when cooked.
- Cut the beef AGAINST the grain. Whether you are cutting thin slices (so that they cook faster), or chunks (to serve like tapas), you want to cut the beef against the direction of the muscle fibers. This is less of an issue for chunks, but vital for when you’re cutting thin strips.
- The traditional way of making this Sri Lankan devilled beef curry is with banana peppers and some green chili peppers (to make it even spicier). If you don’t have banana peppers, you can use anaheim peppers that are spicier, and then omit the extra green chili peppers. If you can’t find anaheim peppers either, then you can use green bell peppers instead.
- This recipe uses peppers, cayenne pepper and crushed chili flakes. Devilled curries are meant to be spicy, so please make sure to adjust the recipe to your taste! Leave out the cayenne pepper and use less crushed chili flakes to make it milder.
This spicy, tangy, sweet dry beef curry is arguably the most popular Sri Lankan-Chinese dish! And if you’re a fan of curries and spicy food, then this one’s a keeper!
Sri Lankan Devilled Beef
Please note that there is 30 minutes of inactive time to let the meat marinate.
For the beef
- 1 lb chuck beef cut into thin strips
- 1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp black pepper freshly cracked
- 3 tbsp oil
For the Devilled Beef Curry
- Red onions cut into the same size as the peppers
- 4 garlic cloves chopped finely
- 1 inch piece of ginger grated or minced finely
- 1 tomato cut into wedges
- 3 - 4 banana peppers or anaheim peppers cut into rings or squares
- 3 - 4 green chili peppers (jalapeno or serrano or other) cut into slices optional
- 1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ cup tomato ketchup
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar, white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce more if needed
- 1 tbsp crushed chili flakes reduce to ½ tbsp or more depending on your heat preference
For the Beef
- Place all the ingredients for the beef in a bowl (except the oil), and mix well. Leave the beef to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Place the oil in a non-stick pan and heat over medium high to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the beef and stir-fry until the beef starts to caramelize.
- Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.
For the Devilled Beef Curry
- Into the same non-stick pan, add ginger and garlic and stir-fry just for a few seconds.
- Add the onion, tomato, banana peppers and green chili peppers and the cooked beef.
- Stir-fry to mix through. Add the curry powder, sugar, ketchup, vinegar, and soy sauce and stir-fry for a few minutes. When the peppers have slightly softened, add the crushed chili flakes (and more soy sauce to taste). Mix for a minute and then remove it from the heat.
- Serve with rice.
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