Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

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Sri Lankan cuisine is one of the most complex cuisines of South Asia. It is historically a major trade hub and many Asian influences are found in the dishes that are served. This is a delicious curry that reflects the Sri Lankan love of spices and exotic flavours. It is succulent with the sweetness of coconut milk, with a background hint of sourness from tamarind and kaffir lime leaves. There is a subtle, deep heat from the spices that warms your palate and leaves you wanting more. Serves 4.


Base Sauce

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2.5cm peeled root ginger
  • 500 ml hot water, approximately

 Main Dish

  • 6 chicken thighs, skinned, but bones left in
  • 4 medium size potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 100g green beans
  • 200g washed baby spinach leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp Sri Lankan Spice Mix (1tbsp for a medium heat, 2tbsp for a hotter dish)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp grated root ginger
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste (or 2tbsp lime juice)
  • 350ml coconut milk
  • ¼-½ tsp salt  – to your taste
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 10-12 curry leaves


  1. Heat oven to 180°C/170°C Fan
  2. Brown the chicken thighs in a little oil and set aside.
  3. Now prepare the curry base sauce. Chop onions, ginger and garlic roughly and fry in oil until cooked, add hot water, just enough to cover onions and garlic, you may not need all 500ml. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Take the sauce off the heat and let cool, then blitz with a hand blender. Set aside.
  5. Next start on the main dish. In a flame proof and oven proof  pan, heat the oil to a  medium heat, and fry the second batch of garlic and ginger for about 2 – 3 minutes, then turn the heat down very low.
  6. Now add the spice mix, gradually blending the spices in to make a paste.
  7. Cook the spice paste very slowly for two minutes to bring out the aroma of the spices – be careful not to burn them, as burnt spices will make the finished dish bitter tasting.
  8. Now add the tamarind paste,  the base sauce, the coconut milk, salt, sugar, kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves, cinnamon, chicken  stock cube, potatoes, and the browned chicken, mixing  it together well.
  9. Bring the curry up to a simmer on the hob. Cover the pan cook in the oven for 45-60 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the  potatoes are tender.
  10. Whilst the curry is cooking, blanch the green beans in boiling water for three minutes.
  11. About five minutes before you serve  add the green beans, and spinach leaves and mix in well.
  12. Serve with brown basmati rice.

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