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Colombo is a Creole curry from Martinique and Guadeloupe. It was brought over by the Sri Lankans who were recruited to  work on the sugar plantations, at the end of the 19th Century. While each household makes their own version of this paste, the base ingredients are turmeric (preferably fresh), coriander seeds, mustard seeds, hot peppers and cloves, all ground to a paste.

1½ Tbsp. coriander seeds

1½ Tbsp. black mustard seeds

1½ Tbsp. black peppercorns

1½ Tbsp. cumin seeds

1½ Tbsp. whole cloves

2 Tbsp. olive oil (or a neutral tasting oil)

4 Tbsp. fresh grated turmeric

1½ Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves, peeled and grated

2 fresh habanero chilies, sliced and pounded to a paste

3 Tbsp. mixed chives (chives and scallions)


Toast the seeds – coriander, mustard, peppercorns, cumin and cloves – on low heat until aromatic, then transfer to a grinder and ground to a coarse powder.

Heat the oil and fry the fresh turmeric, ginger, garlic, habaneros and chives for 1 minute, then add in the ground spice mix. Add 1 tablespoon of water, stir well then reduce heat and let cook without scorching or burning.

Cook until the mixture is fragrant. Remove from heat and let sit for at least 1 hour to blend flavours.

Related: Martinique Matoutou Crabs
Related: What’s Cooking: Easter in Martinique