Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Posted by Dinesh Perera on December 08, 2011 (9 Comments)

Video - Part 1


Video - Part 2

A very popular dish in Sri Lanka and loved by those who have had the pleasure of having enjoyed its many versions!

This curry is an ideal accompaniment to Aromatic Yellow Rice.

There are three stages to making this recipe. First, we need to prepare the Ceylon Roast, the roasted curry powder that is a staple spice blend used in Sri Lanka to prepare meat recipes.

Ceylon Roast Blend

   2     tablespoons coriander seeds
   2     tablespoons cumin seeds
   1     tablespoon fennel seeds
 1/4    teaspoon fenugreek seeds
    1    1-inch-long stick Ceylon cinnamon, broken into pieces
    1    pinch Ceylon cloves (about 4 or 5)
  10    Ceylon cardamom pods
 1/4    teaspoon Ceylon curry leaf
    2    teaspoons cayenne pepper


  • In a dry skillet over low heat, roast coriander seeds  until  brown and fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer to small bowl.
  • Repeat roasting process with cumin seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds in separate batches, transferring roasted spices to same bowl and allowing to cool.
    • Although the purist or ideal way to prepare this blend is to roast the spices individually, you may dry roast all the spices at once, being careful not to burn the smaller seeds, such as the cumin. 


  • Transfer roasted spices, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon and curry leaf to mill. Blend to fine powder. Return milled spices to small bowl. Add cayenne; stir to blend. (See milling instructions.)
  • Transfer Ceylon Roast Blend to airtight container and store indefinitely in cool, dark, dry place.


Next, the chicken is jointed. We normally use the entire chicken, including the back. 



Chicken Curry Recipe:

  • 3-3 1/2 lb. Free Range Chicken
  •  2 -3 Tablespoons Ceylon Roast Blend
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika powder
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, ghee or canola oil
  • 4 to 5 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 inch piece ginger chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seed
  • 3 inch piece ceylon cinnamon
  • 1 sprig curry leaves or 1 teaspoon powder
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 6 cardamom pods bruised
  • 2 teaspoons lemon grass
  • 1/2 to 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 lime

 In a glass or stainless steel bowl combine the chicken, Ceylon roast, vinegar and all the remaining spices except cinnamon, fenugreek seed and lemon grass. Mix well and refrigerate 2 to 24 hrs. 


Sauté the onion, ginger, fenugreek, garlic, lemon grass, cinnamon and curry leaves in oil over medium heat for a few minutes until the onions turn slightly golden. Add the chicken and coat well over medium heat.

Add the tomatoes and coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered 30 to 40 minutes over low to medium heat until the chicken is done. Add lime juice and adjust with salt if necessary. You may garnish cilantro and serve it up!







Comments (9 Comments)

Looks like a tasty recipe. I don’t think you meoennitd in the directions what to do with the optional red chile peppers. I am assuming you don’t process them but rather put them in whole and remove before serving. Is that right? Thanks

Posted by Auth on August 24, 2012
Yes, the peppers are either taken out before serving or not!
Posted by Dinesh, The Spicy Gourmet on September 24, 2012

Hi Dinesh

I am going to make this chicken curry to be eaten with string hoppers. I will have 8 adults for dinner on Saturday Oct 5th 2013. How much of this chicken must I cook for this crowd. When it comes to quantity, I am hopeless. Appreciate your response as quickly as possible. Thank you so much.

Posted by Vinitha on October 03, 2013

Your chicken curry recipe is very close to my family’s traditional recipe. However my parents always saute mustard seeds with the onions in the beginning. Have you heard of this?

Posted by Ramani on December 19, 2013

Hi Vinitha,

I am so, so very sorry that I did not see your question in my inbox. Somehow it was not relayed. I apologize! I’m sure you managed fine with the quantity of chicken you used for your party of eight.

I always err on the side of caution and prepare a chicken and a half for eight. This allows plenty for everyone, especially if you are using an entire chicken. Please let me know how it turned out.

Your response will help others in adjusting the quantity for larger parties.



The Spicy Gourmet

Posted by The Spicy Gourmet on December 30, 2013

Hi Ramani,

Yes, I have heard of this technique. It is typically a manner in which some Indian households initiate the sautéing process. I will try this the next time for sure. It will be interesting to taste the difference!

Posted by The Spicy Gourmet on December 30, 2013

I love all your videos!!
What brand and model you using electric counter top stove???
I want to buy one!!
I lived apt n lousy stove lol
Send me e-mail the informations! Thank you

Posted by Maria Goumas on March 15, 2014

Hi Dinesh,

Thank you very much for this marvellous recipie.

I love all your recipies. The roast blend is awesome!!!! Maybe I can use this for vegetable or other meat curries.

Would appreciate some pork curries too. Looking forward to your reply.

Posted by Flavia on March 14, 2016

Dear Dinesh,
I came across a video of you in my search for ’recipes and cookery demonstrations,. I am a novice cook whose dishes do not come out so very tasty most of the time. (This happens with Sri Lankan curries only, not when baking). But me not giving up!! Your demonstrations are very detailed, not so fast paced, and very illustrative. Great resource for a person like me. Guess what, i once baked ’Malu ambul thiyal" and it came out super! I am trying to fine-tune my self for Sri Lnkan cuisines, and hope i will achieve it one day. Hope you will continue to make more and more videos, like Mango curry, kalu gammiris meat curry etc, and I am really glad you promote our Ceylon Spices.
Wishing you only the best!
Liyamalie Manayake – Sri Lanka

Posted by Liyamalie Manayake on July 22, 2023

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