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Sri Lankan chicken curry.

Sri Lankan chicken curry.

A chicken curry recipe is always a great curry to cook and serve. there are so many meal ideas you can plan around this main dish.

The chicken curry is spicy and aromatic from the Sri Lankan curry powders used here but it’s also thick and creamy from the coconut gravy.

Make this Sri Lankan chicken recipe once and it’s going to be your all-time favorite red chicken curry dish, you will make all the time.

If you make the chicken curry with bone-in parts, a mix of Sri Lankan curry powders, spices, and coconut milk then you’ll cook the best and the tastiest chicken curry.

How to make a tasty Sri Lankan chicken curry.


Here’s a short summary on how you’ll be making this authentic Sri Lankan chicken curry.

First, the chicken parts are marinated in tamarind juice and different curry powders left to soak in most of the tangy and flavors and aroma of the spice powders.

Once you temper curry leaves, onions, cardamom, cinnamon, pandan leaf, tomatoes and leaving it cook and release their aroma, you add the tamarind marinated chicken parts into it.

Leaving the meat to slightly sear and then adding water to slow cook the chicken curry.

Once the water is reduced and the chicken curry is cooked through, you add the coconut milk to give the Sri Lankan curry its creamy yet spicy, strong tastes.

Meal ideas with an authentic Sri Lankan chicken curry.

Use any of the below meal idea menu to serve with rice.

A Sri Lankan meal usually includes 4-5 extra dishes but choose one or two to serve with this chicken curry and your choice of rice.

Other Sri Lankan vegetarian dishes that go well with this Sri Lankan curry.

Pumpkin curry
Potato curry
Dhal curry
Spicy devil potato stir fry
Beans curry are some of the vegetable side dishes you can serve

Types of flat breads and roti to serve with this authentic Sri Lankan chicken curry.

Sri Lankan pol roti
Stovetop naan
Godamba roti
Egg paratha
And even crepes are great!

Save the recipe to your favorite Pinterest board.

Is the chicken curry spicy?

Yes, it’s spicy but with the coconut milk gravy and all the other Sri Lankan milk curry dishes combined(I’ve given some meal ideas above), it’s fair to say that anyone can enjoy the dish without the usual scare of spicy food.

Can I cook the Sri Lankan chicken curry without coconut milk?

Yes, you can try my chicken curry without coconut milk recipe given below.

I have mentioned on the recipe where you need to avoid adding coconut milk and how long to cook the chicken curry to make the gravy thick.

Can I use the same method to make a chicken breast curry?

Yes, you can. you can also make the curry with a combination of chicken legs and thighs.

Beginner’s tips on making the best chicken curry.
  • If you are going to use frozen chicken, make sure you have defrosted the chicken completely which means the meat is at room temperature.

If you do not take the time to defrost the chicken then the marinating process will not work. 

Here’s how you defrost the chicken, 

Take out the frozen chicken 1 and 1/2 hours early before you cook. 

Place it in a secure bag that won’t leak. 

Place a large bowl of water in your kitchen sink, fill with water and place the chicken within this bowl of water, make sure the meat is completely submerged. Check every 1/2 hour. how fast the meat will defrost depends on the size and weight. 

Ingredients to make the chicken curry.
  • If possible DO NOT SUBSTITUTE INGREDIENTS.
  • The best curries tend to use more spices and use multiple curry powder, try to find them at your Indian or Sri Lankan grocery store or try Amazon.
    If you are unable to find them, I will give you a substitute item in the ingredient list whenever possible.
  • Use fresh spices, please do not use spices that has been on your spice rack for ages(never used and more than 6 months)as it will affect the taste of the chicken curry. 
  • I have explained the recipe and given as many details as possible for you to make the best chicken curry so please do make sure to follow the recipe instructions as closely as possible. 

Utensils and appliances needed.

Knife and chopping board
Large bowl
Large cooking pot

More Sri Lankan chicken curry recipes!

Sri Lankan kalupol chicken curry

Sri Lankan chicken curry cooked without coconut milk

Jaffna curry powder chicken curry

Black pepper chicken curry

Sri Lankan chicken and pineapple curry

Sri Lankan chicken and potato curry.

Storing– store in glass containers as plastic containers tend to stain heavily. once the curry cools, can be refrigerated and used within 3 days.

Freezing- once cool can be frozen for 1 week, you can freeze longer, if you stop the cooking process where you add coconut milk as per the recipe instructions, only adding the coconut milk once you take it out of the freezer, let it reach room temperature and add coconut milk.

Reheating- cover with a microwave lid, add 1/4 cup water and microwave for 3-4 minutes. over stove top- add 1/4 cup water and gradually bring the chicken curry to hot over low-medium frie.

Stop food waste by- only cooking as much as you need.

If you do cook more, portion out and use within the week.

It can be used for breakfast with bread. 

RECIPE DIFFICULTY-LITTLE CARE IS NEEDED

How to cook Sri Lankan chicken curry.

700g of chicken parts(you can use boneless or chicken breasts as well)

1/4 cup of tamarind juice(soak 1 tablespoon of tamarind in half a cup of water for 5 minutes, squeeze the seeds and pulp out to collect the tamarind juice, if you are using tamarind pulp 1 tablespoon should do.)

1 tablespoon of chilli Powder(increase to 1/2 or 1 tablespoon to increase spiciness)

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tablespoon cumin powder

2 tablespoon coriander Powder

4 tablespoons of oil 

A sprig of curry leaves

2-inch pandan leaf

1-inch cinnamon

5 cardamom pods, slightly bruised

4 pods of garlic minced(2 tablespoon)

2 tablespoon of ground ginger

2 green chillies sliced

2 large onions, finely sliced

2 medium-sized tomatoes finely sliced

1/2 cup of water

1 cup thick coconut milk

Salt to season

Method

Ingredients you will need to make the chicken curry.

Have all the ingredients ready.

The chicken parts– to have the real authentic flavors and consistency, I would recommend using different parts of the chicken or a whole chicken cut into pieces failing which you can use chicken breast or a combination of parts.

You might find my post on how to cut up a whole chicken helpful if you’ve never done it before.

Pandan leaves and curry leaves-if you are unable to find curry leaves and pandan leaves, check out the Asian stores near you, they may have the dried version.
Or substitute with 2 bay leaves.

coriander powder and cumin powder-you can make your own coriander powder and cumin powder using my recipes.
For some reason, if you are unable to get both these curry powders then substitute with a good curry powder. 3 tablespoons)

Tamarind juice- you have two options.

Using Tamarind pulp– highly concentrated so use the amount mentioned unless the quantity of the chicken is increased then increase the tamarind and other ingredients as well.

Using Tamarind juice– follow instructions given above on the ingredients list.

How to make coconut milk for the chicken curry

Using liquid coconut milk

Packed liquid coconut milk is always preferable.

For thick milk, use the coconut milk from the package without diluting it with water.

Using coconut milk powder.

To make thick milk add 4 tablespoons of coconut powder per cup water.

All these ingredients are available on Amazon as well and have been linked to the recipe card.

ingredients to make chicken curry. recipe on islandsmile.org
How to marinate the chicken curry.

Place the chicken parts in a large bowl and add tamarind juice(1/4 cup juice or 1 tablespoon pulp), turmeric(1/2 tsp), chilli powder(1 tbsp), cumin(1 tbsp), coriander powder(2 tbsp), salt to season.

bowl of chicken with marinating curry powders.recipe on islandsmile.org.

Once you add all the marinating ingredients to the bowl, combine well.

Use disposable gloves if you are sensitive to curry and chilli powder.

Leave the chicken to marinate 10-15 minutes while you prepare other ingredients to cook the curry.

marinated bowl of chicken with spices sri lankan style.

Place a medium-sized pan over medium heat.

Pour in the oil. add curry leaves(a sprig), pandan leaf, cardamom(5 pods), cinnamon(1-inch), cook for a few minutes and add ginger(2 tablespoons) and garlic(2 tablespoons)followed by sliced onions(2 medium).

Cook for 3 minutes or until the onions turn translucent.

tempering ingredients for sri lankan chicken curry.

Add tomatoes(2), green chillies(2), cook until they soften as well. make sure to break down the chunky tomato

other tempering ingredients for the chicken curry. recipe on islandsmile.org

Once all the tempered ingredients are broken down, add the marinated chicken pieces. Save the marinade remaining in the bowl for later use.

marinated chicken added with the tempering spices.

Make sure to combine all the ingredients well over low medium-fire for 3-5 minutes.

Let the chicken continue to cook over medium heat to release its natural juices for 5 minutes.

Once all the liquid evaporates, slightly pan sear the chicken if that is your preference, just add a tablespoon of oil to do this.

mixed chicken with the tempering spices for the chicken curry.

Pour 1/2 cup of water to the remaining marinated liquid, collect all the spices and pour into the chicken curry.

Add this into the chicken curry, reduce heat.

Cover with a lid and slow simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Cover the pan with a lid and leave to simmer for 10 minutes over medium fire.

You will notice a thick, sauce-like consistency as the water reduces.

Uncover the chicken curry after 10 minutes, pour the coconut milk, taste and season with salt if necessary.

Cover and slow simmer for further 15-25 minutes until gravy thickens.

Optional cooking step

5 minutes before removing the chicken curry from the stove, add 1 teaspoon if dark roasted curry powder(optional) to give the Chicken curry a more intense flavor.

Serve warm with your favorite rice and curry dishes.

a bowl of chicken curry placed on a table.

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a bowl of chicken curry placed on a table.

Sri Lankan chicken curry.

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

chicken curry recipe is always a great curry to cook and serve. there are so many meal ideas you can plan around this main dish.

The chicken curry is spicy and aromatic from the Sri Lankan curry powders used here but it’s also thick and creamy from the coconut gravy.

Ingredients

New Group

  • 700g of chicken parts(you can use boneless or chicken breasts as well)
  • 1/4 cup of tamarind juice(soak 1 tablespoon of tamarind in half a cup of water for 5 minutes, squeeze the seeds and pulp out to collect the tamarind juice, if you are using tamarind pulp 1 tablespoon should do.)
  • 1 tablespoon of chilli Powder(increase to 1/2 or 1 tablespoon to increase spiciness)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoon coriander Powder
  • 4 tablespoons of oil 
  • A sprig of curry leaves
  • 2-inch pandan leaf
  • 1-inch cinnamon
  • 5 cardamom pods, slightly bruised
  • 4 pods of garlic minced(2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • 2 green chillies sliced
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • Salt to season

Instructions

Ingredients you will need to make the chicken curry.

Have all the ingredients ready.

The chicken parts– to have the real authentic flavors and consistency, I would recommend using different parts of the chicken or a whole chicken cut into pieces failing which you can use chicken breast or a combination of parts.

You might find my post on how to cut up a whole chicken helpful if you’ve never done it before.

Pandan leaves and curry leaves-if you are unable to find curry leaves and pandan leaves, check out the Asian stores near you, they may have the dried version.Or substitute with 2 bay leaves.

coriander powder and cumin powder-you can make your own coriander powder and cumin powder using my recipes.For some reason, if you are unable to get both these curry powders then substitute with a good curry powder. 3 tablespoons)

Tamarind juice- you have two options.

Using Tamarind pulp– highly concentrated so use the amount mentioned unless the quantity of the chicken is increased then increase the tamarind and other ingredients as well.

Using Tamarind juice– follow the instructions given above on the ingredients list.

How to make coconut milk for the chicken curry

liquid coconut milk

Packed liquid coconut milk is always preferable.

For thick milk, use the coconut milk from the package without diluting it with water.

coconut milk powder..

To make thick milk add 4 tablespoons of coconut powder per cup of water.

All these ingredients are available on Amazon as well and have been linked to the recipe card.

How to marinate the chicken curry.

Place the chicken parts in a large bowl and add tamarind juice(1/4 cup juice or 1 tablespoon pulp), turmeric(1/2 tsp), chilli powder(1 tbsp), cumin(1 tbsp), coriander powder(2 tbsp), salt to season.

Once you add all the marinating ingredients to the bowl, combine well.

Use disposable gloves if you are sensitive to curry and chilli powder.

Leave the chicken to marinate 10-15 minutes while you prepare other ingredients to cook the curry.

Place a medium-sized pan over medium heat.

Pour in the oil. add curry leaves(a sprig), pandan leaf, cardamom(5 pods), cinnamon(1-inch), cook for a few minutes and add ginger(2 tablespoons) and garlic(2 tablespoons)followed by sliced onions(2 medium).

Cook for 3 minutes or until the onions turn translucent.

Add tomatoes(2), green chillies(2), cook until they soften as well. make sure to break down the chunky tomato

Once all the tempered ingredients are broken down, add the marinated chicken pieces. Save the marinade remaining in the bowl for later use.

Make sure to combine all the ingredients well over low medium-fire for 3-5 minutes.

Let the chicken continue to cook over medium heat to release its natural juices for 5 minutes.

Once all the liquid evaporates, slightly pan sear the chicken if that is your preference, just add a tablespoon of oil to do this.

Pour 1/2 cup of water to the remaining marinated liquid, collect all the spices and pour into the chicken curry.

Add this into the chicken curry, reduce heat.

Cover with a lid and slow simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Cover the pan with a lid and leave to simmer for 10 minutes over medium fire.

You will notice a thick, sauce-like consistency as the water reduces.

Uncover the chicken curry after 10 minutes, pour the coconut milk, taste and season with salt if necessary.

Cover and slow simmer for a further 15-25 minutes until gravy thickens.

Optional cooking step

5 minutes before removing the chicken curry from the stove, add 1 teaspoon if dark roasted curry powder(optional) to give the Chicken curry a more intense flavor.

Serve warm with your favorite rice and curry dishes.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 570Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 245mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 37g

Nutritional information on islandsmile is provided as a courtesy. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on the site. these figures should only be considered as estimates.

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Each recipe on this blog has been written with great care and love to the best of my ability with you in mind.
It’s free and on the blog, for you to try anytime.

All I ask is that you do not save it on any apps, recipe boxes or online groups which will affect me as a food blogger and the growth of this blog. I would appreciate if you only share the link rather than the full recipe. 

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