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Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

  • Author: Kannamma - Suguna Vinodh
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


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.



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


  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.


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.

Coconut Milk Recipe, Homemade Coconut Milk From Scratch

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Curry
  • Cuisine: Sri Lankan