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New recipe: Sri Lankan Tomato Curry

Sri Lankan cuisine

Our very own Claire Barham discovered this recipe at the Sen Wellness Sanctuary yoga retreat in Sri Lanka last year, thanks to its lovely chef Bonnie. Fun fact: As well as being a brilliant cook, Bonnie also threaded eyebrows – fortunately not at the same time!

Vegetables and lentils feature heavily in Sri Lankan cuisine, so it’s a great place to look for inspiration if you’re following a plant-based diet or attempting Veganuary. This tomato curry is made with coconut milk, so it’s milder than versions from Thailand. As this was the favourite dish of most of the yogis on the retreat, I was set the challenge to recreate it back in Blighty. Here goes…


  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (leave some of the seeds in if you want it hot, remove for a milder curry)
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • Large pinch of dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp garam masala 
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 500g tomatoes, sliced (no need to peel) 
  • ½ tin of coconut milk
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 200g spinach
  • Fresh coriander, chopped (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a wide pan over a gentle heat and cook the onions until soft (approx. 7 mins).
  2. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for another few minutes before adding the pepper. Cook until the pepper starts to soften.
  3. Stir through the curry leaves, spices and salt. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes until the spices are fragrant. Then add the tomato purée and stir through.
  4. Add all the tomatoes, put a lid on the pan and cook for approx. 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes collapse and become a sauce.
  5. Shake the tin of coconut so it’s thoroughly mixed and add half of the tin to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a simmer.
  6. Stir through the chickpeas and add the spinach a handful at a time. Stir through until wilted.
  7. Serve with steamed rice and scatter the chopped coriander if you’re using the latter.

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Sri Lankan Curry







About The Green Apron

You’ll find The Green Apron cooking school in Coggeshall, Essex. We’re focused on creating simple and seasonal dishes that are as natural as they are delicious, so our cooking classes are fun and hands-on and feature no hard-to-get ingredients or complicated equipment. If you’re interested in Asian cuisine, our Thai, Indian and new-for-2020 Vegetarian Indian cooking courses have all the inspiration you need.