Sri Lankan Chicken Curry {Authentic Recipe} (2024)

This Authentic Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe is hands-down the BEST Chicken Curry you'll ever make. It's full of flavor and so delicious!

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Sri Lankan Chicken Curry {Authentic Recipe} (1)

If there's one Sri Lankan dish that has to be in your cooking repertoire let it be this chicken curry recipe. Called Kukul mas curry in Sinhalese, this authentic chicken curry recipe is cooked in our household at least once a week- more if we have company. Or whenever I feel nostalgic about Sri Lanka. It is also a popular dish served in most homes and restaurants.

Why You Should Make This Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

  • EASY to make.
  • Produces CONSISTENT results every time - if you follow the recipe.
  • Uses my home-made Sri Lankan Roasted Curry Powder that takes just 5 minutes to whip up and makes the dish tantalizinly delicious and authentic. Find the recipe here.
  • VERSATILE - Spicy or mild; with coconut milk or without coconut milk - you can take the base recipe and modify to suit your tastebuds.

What Part of Chicken To Use

I love to use the whole chicken, the dark meat, white meat, and the bones - which flavors the gravy or the chicken curry sauce. I get my butcher to skin the whole chicken and cut it into 12 to 14 pieces.

Bone-in chicken thigh or chicken legs work wonderfully too.

If you must go boneless, consider using dark meat - boneless chicken thighs.

Chicken breast can be used too in a pinch. If you're using chicken breast reduce the cooking time by half as the chicken breast pieces cook faster.


  • Chicken- whole chicken cut into pieces or any bone-in chicken pieces
  • Cookingoil - coconut oil is best but any neutral cooking oil would do
  • Roasted Sri Lankan curry powder - you can use the homemade curry powder listed below. If you're unable to get the ingredients or would like to buy store bought one, try using Indian curry powders like a madras curry powder.
  • Red chilli powder
  • Turmeric powder
  • Onion
  • Ginger and Garlic
  • Curry leaves
  • Green chilies
  • Fresh tomato
  • Tomato passata/puree- You can substitute with tomato paste and water
  • Vinegar - coconut vinegar is what is traditionally used. Use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead.
  • Coconut milk - canned coconut milk or coconut milk powder. Dilute coconut milk powder with water to make a thin coconut milk and add that instead of water for more coconut flavor.
  • Salt
  • Extra Ingredients - You can use pandan leaves and lemon grass for more flavor and authentic taste.

Is the Chicken Curry Spicy?

This is not a very spicy chicken curry as you add just one teaspoon of red chili powder or cayenne pepper. And the roasted curry powder doesn't give much heat. If you can get your hands on Sri Lankan chili powder; which is very spicy, one teaspoon would do.

But if you like spicy food or spicy curries - increase the chilli powder to two teaspoons.

For a less spicy curry - reduce chili powder/cayenne pepper to half a teaspoon. Or use Kashmiri chilli powder. It's what I use and it gives a bright red hue without the heat.

What Makes Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Special?

Without a doubt our homemade roasted curry powder. There is no reason not to make it. It literally takes 5-6 min. You gather and roast in a pan the following spices and grind them into a fine powder. You'll be rewarded with delicious curry and a fragrant aroma that will salivate those around you.

  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Fennel seeds
  • Fenugreek seed
  • Mustard seeds
  • Curry leaves
  • Cardamom pods
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Raw rice
The Easiest Sri Lankan Roasted Curry Powder
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How to Make the Chicken Curry

Marinate: Marinate the chicken pieces in spice powders, vinegar, and salt for thirty minutes or at least 10 minutes. I marinate the chicken and then proceed to chop and prep the ingredients.

Cook: Cook the onion till they're golden. Add ginger, garlic, and curry leaves and cook until the raw smell disappears. Add tomatoes, marinated chicken pieces, and stir and cook for a few minutes. Add in tomato puree or tomato paste, water, and cook on high heat until the curry comes to a boil.

Simmer: Once the curry comes to a boil reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Add coconut milk, cook uncovered in medium heat for further 10 minutes.

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe Without Coconut Milk

Sri Lankan chicken curries can be made with or without coconut milk.

To make the curry without coconut milk, omit the coconut milk altogether. This will be the spicy version of the curry. Increase the spice powders to make the curry thick or simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.

What to Serve the Curry With

  • Serve with white rice and red lentil dal. Read how to make the Perfect Basmati Rice to eat with chicken curry.
  • Brown rice or cauli rice for the health conscious
  • Naan or roti to scoop up the curry
  • On a heaping bowl of quinoa (my favorite!)

How To Store and Reheat

The curry can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days.

If you want to freeze, put it in a zip lock bag and in the freezer for 3 months.

Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warm.

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry {Authentic Recipe} (3)

More Recipes You'll Enjoy

Sri Lankan Red Lentil Dal

Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry

Minced Meat Curry with Vegetables

How To Cook The Perfect Basmati Rice

This is the Best Sri Lankan Authentic Chicken Curry you'll ever make!

If you like this recipe, I’d love it if you can give me a rating and comment! Share it with your family and friends!❤️


Sri Lankan Chicken Curry {Authentic Recipe}

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry {Authentic Recipe} (4)

This Authentic Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe is hands-down the BEST Chicken Curry you'll ever make. It's full of flavor and so delicious!

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes mins

Cook Time 30 minutes mins

Marinating Time 30 minutes mins

Total Time 1 hour hr 5 minutes mins

Course Main Course

Cuisine Sri Lankan

Servings 4


  • Dutch Oven


  • 2 lbs chicken whole chicken cut into pieces or any bone-in chicken thigh/leg pieces
  • 2 ½ tablespoon Sri Lankan roasted curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, medium chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger minced
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 2 green chillies sliced
  • 1 large roma tomato chopped
  • ¼ cup tomato passata/sauce/puree OR 1 tablespoon tomato paste with 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup coconut milk


  • Marinate the chicken with roasted curry powder, red chili powder, turmeric, salt and vinegar for 30 minutes.

  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and saute the onions until they become translucent. Add ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Fry for 2 minutes.

  • Add the marinated chicken, green chili and curry leaves and give it a good stir. Let it fry for 2 minutes. Then add the chopped tomato and let it cook down.

  • Add tomato passata/puree and a cup of water. Let the curry come to a boil.

  • Reduce the heat to medium, cover and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

  • Add coconut milk and cook uncovered for further 10 minutes. Check and adjust seasoning.

  • Serve over rice or with naan or roti.


  • Boneless chicken- reduce initial simmering time to 15 minutes
  • Curry powder- store-bought Indian curry powder can be used but the taste will be different
  • Tomato passata- this is uncooked strained pureed tomatoes. You can find it in most supermarkets. If you don't have any add one more chopped large tomato or ¼ cup pureed tomato. Or substitute 1 tablespoon tomato paste mixed in 2 tablespoon water.
  • Red chili powder- use Kashmiri red chili powder for mild heat but more color.
  • Store - in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days.
  • Freeze - in the freezer for 3 months.
  • Reheat - in the microwave or on the stovetop until warm.


Calories: 347 kcalTotal Carbs: 6 gProtein: 36.6 gFat: 18.7 gSaturated Fat: 10.6 gFiber: 1.2 g

Tried this recipe?If you like this recipe, I’d love if you can give me a rating and comment! Share this with your family and friends!

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry {Authentic Recipe} (2024)
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