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Authentic Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe: Bursting with Exotic Flavors

Authentic Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe: Bursting with Exotic Flavors

Key Takeaway

Recipe TitleAuthentic Sri Lankan Chicken Curry
Preparation Time45 minutes
Cooking Time45 minutes
Main IngredientsChicken, Coconut Milk, Curry Leaves, Roasted Curry Powder
Spice LevelAdjustable
Difficulty LevelMedium
Nutrition (per serving)350 calories, 30g protein, 20g fat, 10g carbohydrates
StorageUp to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator
Special TipUse fresh spices for an authentic taste
Side HighlightGotukola Mallung Recipe
Related CategorySri Lankan Curry Recipes

Introduction to Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry is not just a dish. It’s an experience. 

The perfect blend of aromatic spices, tender chicken, and the burst of traditional flavors make it a coveted dish in Sri Lanka and across the globe. But what makes Sri Lankan Chicken Curry stand out? 

The uniqueness lies in its authentic spices and the traditional method of preparation, which has been passed down through generations. 

Its popularity also stems from its versatility; it can be tweaked to suit one’s taste buds while retaining its original essence. 

Making this curry at home is about feeding the stomach and traveling to Sri Lanka through its exotic flavors right from your kitchen. 

Explore our Sri Lankan Curry Recipes for a palate adventure.

Ingredients For Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe

Chicken1 kg
Curry Powder4 tablespoons
Turmeric Powder1 teaspoon
Salt1 teaspoon (or to taste)
Onions2 medium-sized
Garlic4 cloves
Ginger1-inch piece
Chili Powder1 teaspoon (or to taste)
Coconut Milk400 ml
Oil2 tablespoons
Fresh Coriander LeavesA handful (for garnish)
Lime JuiceOptional (to taste)
Sri lankan chicken curry on a wooden tray

What Each Ingredient Adds To Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe

Each Sri Lankan Chicken Curry recipe ingredient contributes to the dish’s overall flavor, texture, and appearance. Here’s a breakdown of what each ingredient adds to the recipe:


Provides a hearty, protein-rich base and absorbs the spices and coconut milk flavors.

Curry Powder:

A blend of spices that delivers the quintessential curry flavor, adding depth and richness to the dish.

Turmeric Powder:

Imparts a vibrant yellow color and a subtle earthy flavor, and also has anti-inflammatory properties.


Enhances the flavors of the other ingredients and is essential for seasoning.


Add a sweet and savory base flavor when sautéed, forming the foundation of the curry.


Provides a pungent, spicy, and slightly sweet flavor that complements the spices in the curry.


Adds a warm, spicy, and slightly woody flavor that pairs well with the other spices.

Chili Powder:

Contributes to the heat and color of the curry, making it spicy and visually appealing.

Coconut Milk:

Adds creaminess, richness, and a mild sweetness to the curry, balancing out the spicy flavors.


Used for sautéing the onions, garlic, and ginger, and helps in cooking the chicken and blending the spices together.

Fresh Coriander Leaves (for garnish):

Provides a fresh, citrusy, and slightly peppery flavor, enhancing the dish’s overall aroma and appearance.

Lime Juice (optional):

Adds a tangy zest, brightening up the flavors and adding a refreshing note to the curry.

Each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating the authentic taste and appearance of Sri Lankan Chicken Curry, harmoniously melding together to produce a delightful culinary experience.

coconut in half with a jug of coconut milk

Preperation and Servings

Preparation Time: 45 minutes

This includes time for washing and cutting the chicken, marinating it (for at least 30 minutes), and preparing the spices.

Cook Time: 40 – 45 minutes

This includes time for sautéing the onions, garlic, and ginger, browning the chicken, bringing the curry to a boil, and simmering it until the chicken is cooked through.

These times are estimates and can vary based on individual cooking speed, the exact size and type of chicken pieces used, and other factors. 

It’s always a good practice to allow a little extra time, especially if you’re making the recipe for the first time.

selection of spices and garlic

Hints and Tips

  • Use freshly ground spices for a more authentic taste.
  • Adjust the level of spice to your preference by varying the amount of chili powder.
  • Coconut milk is a crucial ingredient, don’t skip it as it gives the curry a rich and creamy texture.


1. Vegetarian Variation:

  • Replace chicken with tofu, tempeh, or a mix of hearty vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers.

2. Vegan Variation:

  • Use plant-based protein like tofu or chickpeas instead of chicken, and ensure your curry powder is vegan.

3. Different Proteins:

  • Substitute chicken with other meats like beef, lamb, or fish. Adjust cooking time accordingly to ensure the meat is cooked through.

4. Spiciness Adjustment:

  • For a milder curry, reduce or omit the chili powder. For a spicier curry, add more chili powder or include fresh green chilies.

5. Low-Fat Variation:

  • Use light coconut milk instead of regular coconut milk, and reduce the amount of oil used for sautéing.


6. Creamier Curry:

  • Add more coconut milk or a dollop of coconut cream for a richer, creamier texture.

7. Additional Vegetables:

  • Incorporate vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, or peas for added nutrition and flavor.

8. Alternative Spices:

  • Experiment with different spices or spice blends to create a unique flavor profile. For instance, try adding some garam masala, paprika, or coriander powder.

9. Nutty Variation:

  • Add a spoonful of cashew or almond paste to the curry for a nutty flavor and thicker consistency.

10. Fruity Twist:

Incorporate fruits like pineapple or mango for a sweet and tangy flavor contrast.

Try these variations and customize this Sri Lankan Chicken Curry to suit your dietary preferences or to experiment with different flavor profiles while still enjoying the essence of the original recipe.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with steamed rice, naan, or roti. A side of pickled vegetables or a fresh salad would complete the meal.

Sri lankan chicken curry close up

Nutrition Values

Here’s an estimated nutritional table for the Sri Lankan Chicken Curry recipe:

NutrientAmount Per Serving
Calories350 kcal
Total Fat20g
– Saturated Fat10g
– Trans Fat0g
Total Carbohydrates10g
– Dietary Fiber2g
– Sugars4g
Vitamin D0.1mcg

Serving Size:
The provided nutritional information is estimated for a serving size of approximately 250g of the prepared curry, which makes about 4 servings from the total quantity prepared with the given recipe.

Please note that the nutritional values are approximate and can vary based on the exact brands and types of ingredients used and the preparation method. 

For precise nutritional information, it’s recommended to use a nutritional calculator or consult with a registered dietitian.

Difficulty Level

This recipe falls under the medium difficulty level. 

While the ingredients are straightforward, getting the balance of spices right is crucial for that authentic taste.


Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat well before serving.


The history of Sri Lankan Chicken Curry is as rich as its flavor. 

Originating from the island’s age-old culinary traditions, it’s a testament to Sri Lanka’s spice trade history and its multicultural culinary heritage.


Embarking on the journey of making this Authentic Sri Lankan Chicken Curry is about embracing the exotic flavors that define Sri Lankan cuisine.

It’s not just a meal; it’s an exploration of culture and tradition right from your kitchen.

Sri lankan chicken curry on a wooden tray close up


Can I use boneless chicken?

Yes, you can use boneless chicken, but traditionally bone-in pieces are used for better flavor.

Can I substitute coconut milk?

Coconut milk is essential for authenticity, but if necessary, you can use a coconut milk substitute like almond milk or soy milk with a hint of coconut extract.

How can I make the curry spicier?

Increase the amount of chili powder or add fresh green chilies to the curry.

What other meats can I use?

You can substitute chicken with lamb, beef or fish, adjusting the cooking time accordingly.

How do I store leftover curry?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, this recipe is gluten-free. Ensure to check labels of any store-bought spice blends for hidden gluten.

Your journey into the heart of Sri Lankan cuisine begins here. With every bite, you traverse the rich culinary heritage of an island known for its exotic flavors and hearty meals. Happy cooking!

Authentic Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe: Bursting with Exotic Flavors

Recipe by Chris Cooper
0.0 from 0 votes
Course: MainCuisine: Sri LankanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




Total time



Indulge in the rich and aromatic flavors of an Authentic Sri Lankan Chicken Curry with this detailed step-by-step recipe.

Discover the unique blend of spices, creamy coconut milk, and tender chicken pieces as you embark on a culinary journey to the heart of Sri Lanka.

This savory curry is a staple in Sri Lankan cuisine, embodying a perfect blend of spiciness and creaminess with every bite.

The preparation marries traditional ingredients and simple cooking techniques to bring out the authentic taste of Sri Lankan curry.

Pair it with steamed rice or traditional Sri Lankan bread for a satisfying meal.

Whether you're new to Sri Lankan cuisine or a seasoned curry enthusiast, this recipe will surely tantalize your taste buds and become a favorite in your curry repertoire.


  • 1 kg 1 kg Chicken

  • 4 tbs 4 tbsp Curry Powder

  • 1 tsp 1 tsp Turmeric Powder

  • 1 tsp 1 Salt (or to taste)

  • 2 2 Onions medium-sized

  • 4 4 Garlic cloves

  • 1 inch 1 inch Ginger

  • 1 tsp 1 Chili Powder (or to taste)

  • 400 ml 400 ml Coconut Milk

  • 2 tbs 2 tbsp Oil

  • Fresh Coriander Leaves, A handful (for garnish)

  • Lime Juice (Optional to taste)


  • Marinate the Chicken
    Start by washing 1 kg of chicken thoroughly under cold water. Pat the chicken dry and cut it into pieces.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken pieces with 2 tablespoons of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well, ensuring the chicken is well-coated with the spices.

    Cover the bowl with a cling film and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours for a deeper flavor infusion.
  • Prepare the Spices:
    While the chicken is marinating, prepare your spices and other ingredients.

    Finely chop 2 medium-sized onions, 4 cloves of garlic, and a 1-inch piece of ginger.

    Measure out 2 tablespoons of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of chili powder (adjust according to taste for spiciness), and 400 ml of coconut milk.
  • Cooking the Chicken:
    Once the chicken has marinated, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium heat.

    Add the chopped onions, garlic, and ginger to the pot, sautéing them for about 5-7 minutes until they turn translucent and aromatic.

    Add the marinated chicken pieces to the pot, stirring occasionally, and sear them for about 5-10 minutes until they are browned on all sides.
  • Simmering the Curry:
    After browning the chicken, add the remaining curry powder and chili powder to the pot, stirring well to coat the chicken evenly with the spices.

    Pour in the coconut milk and stir everything together, ensuring a smooth mixture.

    Bring the curry to a boil, which should take around 5-7 minutes, then reduce the heat to low.

    Cover the pot with a lid and let the curry simmer for about 20-25 minutes. During this time, the chicken will cook through and become tender, and the flavors will meld together beautifully.
  • Final Touches:
    After simmering, check the curry for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary, and if you prefer, a dash of lime juice for an extra zing.

    Garnish the curry with a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped.


  • Serve hot with steamed rice or traditional Sri

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Sri lankan curry in a bowl with bread

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