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Sri Lankan Chicken (meat) Curry

Hungry for more? This recipe was featured in a podcast episode!


Erin made this recipe with goat in our Diwali episode. But Sarah uses this recipe with chicken as well. This is an authentic one and will have guests asking you how to make it. Let's fill up that pantry for this delicious recipe.

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook time: 50 min

Yield: 4 - 6 people



  • 1 kg bone in skinless chicken cut into smaller pieces and rinsed (or bone in goat or lamb)

  • 1/3 cup of yogurt (only if using goat or lamb)

  • 1/3 onion sliced

  • 12 curry leaves

  • 1 cinnamon stick broken up

  • 1 green chilli sliced in half lengthwise

  • Spices: 1 tbsp fennel seeds, pinch of fenugreek, 6 cardamom seeds, 2 cloves (optional: you can use 1 tbsp of garam masala instead)

  • 2 - 4 garlic cloves minced

  • Ginger - same amount as garlic, minced

  • 1 tomato quartered

  • 2 heaped dinner spoonfuls of curry powder plus more to taste (for the authentic experience try to get Sri Lankan curry powder. It is spicy but the best curry powder in my opinion. Because it is roasted.)

  • 2 tbsp turmeric powder

  • Water

  • Salt to taste

  • cooking oil

To finish

  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds toasted and ground

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Add a generous amount of oil in a medium hot pot. So that it covers the whole surface.

  2. When oil is hot, add, onions, green chilli, curry leaves and broken up cinnamon stick. Stir constantly.

  3. When onions are caramelized into a deep brown, add spices in and stir for a minute. Lower heat if anything is about to burn.

  4. Add garlic and ginger paste. Stir for 20 secs.

  5. Stir in tomatoes and let cook for another 2 minutes.

  6. Add chicken, turmeric powder, curry powder and 1 1/2 tbsp of salt. Stir (If using goat or lamb, add this meat with the yogurt.)

  7. Add water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil and turn heat down for a robust simmer.

  8. In 15 min, give the curry a good stir. Taste it and add more curry powder and salt to your liking at this point. Curry powder has to cook for awhile to get rid of its bitterness. So, now is the time to do this.

  9. Continue to cook this for another 20 min.

  10. Add more salt to taste.

  11. Add the finishing touches with the ground roasted fennel and lemon juice. Stir and immediately turn heat off.

Zhuzh it up!

  • Serve this up with Buttered Saffron Rice and a salad of your choice on the side. This will be a kick a** meal.

  • Overwhelmed? I was there once. But I made this every month on request of the family, and I don't refer to a recipe anymore.

This dish was taught to me by my lovely friend, Aunty Puspa Jeyanthan. I will always be grateful to you for taking the time to pass this recipe down to me, which i will pass down to my children.


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