Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

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Recipe for traditional Sri Lankan chicken curry. Made with homemade curry masala powder. The curry goes well with rotti, rice and hoppers. Recipe with step by step pictures.

Here is a recipe for traditional Sri Lankan style chicken curry that I learnt from Chef Palitha Dewage during my trip to the beautiful nation in 2017. This dish is very robust, spicy and goes very well with hoppers, string hoppers and even rice.

Sri Lankan style Curry powder is used for this recipe. If you can get hold of it in a place where you live, use it. I made my own curry powder recipe from scratch and here it is!!!

First lets make a homemade curry powder for this recipe. Heat a heavy pan on low flame. Add in all the ingredients listed under curry powder. Just a couple of things. Don’t go over board with fenugreek seeds. Too much will make the curry bitter. Regarding what kind of rice to use, it really does not matter. Just use whatever rice you have on hand. Parboiled, raw rice, basmati, whatever…..It will work!!!
Slowly roast all the ingredients till the spices turn fragrant and the mustard seeds slowly starts to pop here and there. The rice would have slightly turned brown.
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Set aside everything on a plate to cool. Transfer the cooled ingredients to a mixie. Grind to a smooth powder. Set aside.
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Marinate the chicken with the marination ingredients. Set aside for 30 minutes. Make sure that the pieces are small. If using chicken legs, make some gashes so the masalas can permeate well.
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Heat coconut oil in a pan and add in the cinnamon and cardamom.
If you can get hold of the Sri Lankan cinnamon, use that. I used my last lot of Sri Lankan cinnamon that is remaining from my last trip. I store all my spices in the freezer so it stays fresh for a long time without turning rancid or losing its potency. Most of the Cinnamon we use here in India is actually cassia. Ceylon Cinnamon quills will resemble a tightly rolled cigar once dried. Cassia tends to be a dark brown-red color with thicker sticks and a rougher texture than Ceylon cinnamon. One of the primary differences between cinnamon and cassia is the coumarin content.
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Add in the curry leaves, green chillies and sliced onions. Saute for a few minutes.
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Add in the red chiili powder, black pepper powder, turmeric powder and the ground curry masala powder. Add all of the curry masala powder. Saute for a couple of minutes. Let the masalas get roasted well. The aromas from the pan should now waft the kitchen.
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Add in the ginger garlic paste. saute for a minute.
A note on ginger garlic paste – I ground a whole pod of garlic along with two inch piece of ginger with little water. I added half of it for the marinade and the other half while making the curry
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Add in the marinated chicken, lemon grass and pandan leaves to the pan. Mix well to combine. Let the chicken cook for five minutes. Keep sauteing.
Pandan Leaves – Pandan leaves is also called as rambai ilai in Tamil and is usually available in coastal areas. The plant can be easily grown in a balcony garden of the apartment. If you cannot get fresh lemon grass, you can substitute dried lemon grass. Lemon grass is easily available online in amazon.
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Add in the coconut milk. Add in a cup of water. Add in the remaining salt.

A note on coconut milk
I made homemade coconut milk. I ground half of a small coconut with water and made three extracts and added it to the curry. I had about 2 cups of coconut milk (thin+thick milk). If using canned coconut milk, use 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of water. Here is the link to make homemade coconut milk.
https://www.kannammacooks.com/homemade-coconut-milk/
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Now close the pan with a lid and lower the flame. Let it simmer for 45 minutes on a low flame. Cooking on a low flame is key to develop the flavors.
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Sri Lankan chicken curry is ready.
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Print
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Srilankan-chicken-curry-with-homemade-curry-powder-recipe-1

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Recipe for traditional Sri Lankan chicken curry. Made with homemade curry masala powder. The curry goes well with rotti, rice and hoppers. Recipe with step by step pictures.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale

For the curry masala

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon rice (any variety will work)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 clove
  • 1 cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon fennel
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves

For the marination

  • 500 grams chicken on bone
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (kashmiri variety)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Other ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 cardamom
  • 1 inch cinnamon sticks
  • 3 curry leaf sprigs
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1 onion, chopped (preferably red onions)
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 1 pandan leaf (rambai ilai)
  • coconut milk from half of a coconut (see notes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Heat a heavy pan on a low flame. Add in all the ingredients listed under curry powder. Slowly roast all the ingredients till the spices turn fragrant and the mustard seeds slowly starts to pop here and there. The rice would have slightly turned brown. Set aside everything on a plate to cool. Grind to a smooth powder. Set aside.
  2. Marinate the chicken with the marination ingredients. Set aside for 30 minutes. Make sure that the pieces are small. If using chicken legs, make some gashes so the masalas can permeate well.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a pan and add in the cinnamon and cardamom.
  4. Add in the curry leaves, green chillies and sliced onions. Saute for a few minutes.
  5. Add in the red chiili powder, black pepper powder, turmeric powder and the ground curry masala powder. Add all of the curry masala powder. Saute for a couple of minutes. Let the masalas get roasted well. The aromas from the pan should now waft the kitchen.
  6. Add in the ginger garlic paste. saute for a minute.
  7. Add in the marinated chicken, lemon grass and pandan leaves to the pan. Mix well to combine. Let the chicken cook for five minutes. Keep sauteing.
  8. Add in the coconut milk. Add in a cup of water. Add in the remaining salt.
  9. Now close the pan with a lid and lower the flame. Let it simmer for 45 minutes on a low flame. Cooking on a low flame is key to develop the flavors.
  10. Sri Lankan chicken curry is ready.

Notes

A note on ginger garlic paste.
I ground a whole pod of garlic along with two inch piece of ginger with little water. I added half of it for the marinade and the other half while making the curry
A note on coconut milk
I made homemade coconut milk. I ground half of a small coconut with water and made three extracts and added it to the curry. I had about 2 cups of coconut milk (thin+thick milk). If using canned coconut milk, use 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of water.
Here is the link to make homemade coconut milk.
https://www.kannammacooks.com/homemade-coconut-milk/

  • Author: Kannamma - Suguna Vinodh
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Curry
  • Cuisine: Sri Lankan

 

19 thoughts on “Sri Lankan Chicken Curry”

  1. I tried this recipe twice (without lemon grass /pandan both times). still, It turned out to be amazing. Total hit in the family. Thanks






  2. Cynthia Gomez

    Hi Suguna,

    This recipe is delicious. I have been searching left, right and centre for a recipe that resembles my mother’s chicken curry recipe and am so happy I finally found something! Thank-you for sharing.

    I used my own curry masala rather than the one you provided and initially made the gravy too spicy. Luckily, I was able to salvage it by adding more coconut milk. Just out of curiousity approximately how many tablespoons does your curry masala equate to?

  3. Kawalpreet

    Hello suguna Thank you for wonderful Recipe. I am punjabi Indian and my husband is srilankan. He always ask me to make this recipe for him. He also praise about this recipe i front of his friends and family. Thanks heaps. I love this recipe






  4. Hi Suguna. Tried this recipe. Couldn’t lay my hands on the pandan and lemongrass, but came out well. The aroma was amazing.

    Thanks.
    Sharmela






  5. Hi Suguna,

    This Sri Lankan Chicken Curry recipe was really fantastic. I tried the recipe with the exact measurements you’ve posted and it came out great! Thank You!






  6. hi, is there any substtiute for pandan leaf? pl help.thanks.
    its a small amount used but will it matter if i dont use it?

  7. This is the real deal, everything made fresh including the curry powder and the cocont milk!

    Looks delicious, great job on the dish and this post.






  8. VANDY MADIREDDY

    Hi,

    I love your recipe even before I’m cooking. I can’t wait to try it. One question, I do not have lemon grass. Is there another good substitute for it? If not, can I skip it without it affecting the taste?






  9. Saranya rajesh

    Hi suguna we love your recipes…πŸ˜‹
    Please give a recipe of srilankan style maravalli kilangu curry. Thanks

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