Chicken Curry. Sri Lanka

There are, at times, travel destinations that suddenly come out from the unknown and become the ones that everyone around me is interested in. Lately it’s been the combined tour of the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The Maldives, of course, are worldwide famous already. But who actually goes to Sri Lanka, this magnificent autonomous island located near the tip of Southern India, because they have always dreamt of it ? Nobody. Because nobody knew about it not so long ago, at least in Europe. It’s become a “new thing” just recently. My mum went last year, two of my customers went the year before too, and “many” of my friends are considering it for holidays.

I have never been to Sri Lanka, but I may go someday. Hopefully before it is ruined by over-tourism and abused by too much consumerism. I read that it is Tea Lovers paradise over there. Sri Lanka’s name used to be Ceylan, and who have not heard about the famous Ceylan tea? Also, because of its location in the Indian Ocean, its cuisine influence is mixed although highly influenced by India, its natural neighbor. That teased my curiosity today when I quickly searched for a nice meal to cook for tonight’s dinner.

Moreover, at the moment my husband and I are watching Terrace House, a Japanese reality-show that broadcasts the real life of 6 roommates that are hosted in a luxury house in the small town of Karuizawa, Japan. A couple of months before the end of the season, the show casted a girl (one of the roommates) who is from mixed origins, half Japanese and half Sri-Lankan. A beautiful mix, actually.

I guess the travelers and the tv show both had an impact on my mind, but above all I think I was simply curious about this little country and thought I’d start getting to know about it with its food. So, I came across a nice recipe of chicken curry from Sri Lanka online and I thought I’d give it a shot at home with what I had in my pantry (original post here, which I partially copied and adapted a bit for the rest). Surprisingly, I had almost it all – including fresh lemongrass currently growing on my balcony. And this recipe featured Fenugreek seeds, that I had never used before but read a lot about , and I remembered that I had the great idea to buy a bit of it out of curiosity the last time I went grocery-shopping at my local Asian store in Nice. All conditions were there for me to cook a super flavorsome Chicken Curry from Sri Lanka.

Chicken Curry Sri Lanka style by


For the curry masala
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (seeds, otherwise grounded is fine too)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon rice (uncooked)
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 cardamom pod or 1 tsp of ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves or 1 tsp of curry powder
For the marination
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • ½ tsp turmeric (curcuma) powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (kashmiri variety if available)
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste (or garlic and fresh ginger grinded in a mortar or electric mixer)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
Other ingredients
  • 2 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tsp of cardamom
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp of curry powder
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1 onion, chopped (preferably red onions)
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric (curcuma) powder
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt



  1. Heat a heavy pan on a low flame. Add in all the ingredients listed under curry masala. 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 instead of chicken breasts, make some gashes so the masalas can permeate well.
  3. Heat oil in a pan and add in the cinnamon and cardamom.
  4. Add in the curry powder, green chillies and sliced onions. Saute for a few minutes.
  5. Add in the red chiili powder, black pepper powder, turmeric (curcuma) powder and the ground curry masala powder. Saute for a couple of minutes. Let the masalas get roasted well and let the aromas develop.
  6. Add in the ginger garlic paste. Sauté for a minute.
  7. Add in the marinated chicken and lemon grass 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 small cup of water. Add in the remaining salt.
  9. Now close the pan with a lid and lower the flame. Let it simmer for 30-45 minutes on a low flame. Cooking on a low flame is key to develop the flavors.
  10. Sri Lankan chicken curry is ready – and delicious with Asian white rice.

Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2019 All Rights Reserved.

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