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Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Reported by Convoy of Hope

Sri Lankan chicken curry has become well-known around the world for its unique taste and blend of spices. This Sri Lankan dish is a variation of classic chicken curry that originated in India and has since been adapted in various ways.

In this article, we will provide a brief overview of the history of chicken curry, followed by a more in-depth discussion of Sri Lankan chicken curry.

We’ll also provide a detailed step-by-step guide on how to make this dish at home.

History of Chicken Curry

Chicken curry has been a staple dish in various cultures worldwide for centuries. Believed to have originated in India, the curry spice mix was a common way of preparing meat in the hot and humid climate.

The addition of spices — such as turmeric and cumin — added flavor and helped preserve the meat. The recipe for chicken curry has evolved over time to include onions, garlic, ginger, and a variety of spices.

History of Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Sri Lanka is an island nation in South Asia just off the southeast coast of India. The Sri Lankan version of chicken curry is known for its blend of traditional Sri Lankan spices and creamy coconut milk, which gives it a distinct and aromatic flavor.

Sri Lankan chicken curry has been a staple dish in Sri Lankan cuisine for centuries — each family adding their own unique twist.

How to Make Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Ingredients

  • • 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs or chicken pieces
  • • 1 cup water
  • • 1 cup coconut milk
  • • 2 onions, sliced
  • • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • • 2 curry leaves
  • • 2 pandan leaves
  • • 1 cinnamon stick
  • • 2 or 3 cardamom pods
  • • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • • 2 tablespoon roasted curry powder
  • • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • • 1 teaspoon salt
  • • 1 teaspoon black pepper

NOTE: This recipe can be adapted to use boneless chicken, chicken breasts, or any other cut of chicken. If pandan leaves are not available in your supermarket, they can be omitted.

Instructions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a large pan or Dutch oven.
  2. Once hot, add the sliced onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown.
  3. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger to the pan. Cook for another minute or two, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  4. Add the chicken to the pan and stir well to coat it with the onion, garlic, and ginger mixture. 
  5. Cook the chicken for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until it is browned on all sides.
  6. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and fennel seeds to the pan. Stir well to combine.
  7. Add the roasted curry powder, chili powder, salt, and black pepper to the pan. Stir well to combine.
  8. Add the cup of water to the pan and stir well.
  9. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  10. Add the coconut milk, curry leaves, and pandan leaves to the pan and stir well. Let the mixture simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
  11. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
  12. Serve over rice or with naan bread. Enjoy!

Fun Alterations to This Recipe

Chicken curry has been enjoyed by many cultures around the world for centuries. While the core ingredients are generally the same, each region has its own unique twist on the recipe.

Here are just a few examples of the different variations of chicken curry from around the world, and how you can modify the original Sri Lankan chicken curry recipe to create them.

Indian Chicken Curry

To create an Indian-style chicken curry, add garam masala to the recipe and additional ingredients, such as tomatoes, potatoes, and yogurt. You can also use boneless chicken or chicken breasts instead of bone-in chicken.

1. Thai Green Curry 

To create a Thai green curry, substitute the roasted curry powder with fresh green chilies and Thai basil. You can also add ingredients like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and fish sauce to the recipe to give it a distinct Thai flavor.

2. Japanese Chicken Curry

To create a Japanese-style chicken curry, use curry powder, ginger, and garlic as the main spices. Add potatoes, carrots, and onions to the dish for texture and flavor. You can also use boneless chicken or chicken breasts instead of bone-in chicken.

3. Jamaican Curry Chicken

To create a Jamaican-style curry chicken, use a blend of spices such as cumin, coriander, and turmeric, and add Scotch bonnet peppers to give it a spicy kick. You can also use boneless chicken or chicken breasts instead of bone-in chicken.

4. Malaysian Chicken Curry

To create a Malaysian-style chicken curry, use a blend of Indian and Southeast Asian flavors. Use a mixture of spices such as turmeric, coriander, and cumin, and add ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, and tamarind to the dish. You can also use boneless chicken or chicken breasts instead of bone-in chicken.

.  .  .

These are just a few examples of the many different variations of chicken curry that can be found around the world. With a little bit of creativity and experimentation, you can modify the original Sri Lankan chicken curry recipe to create your own unique twist on this classic dish.

Next Steps

Sri Lankan chicken curry is a delicious and unique variation of the classic chicken curry recipe. By following the steps above, you can create a flavorful and aromatic dish that is sure to impress friends and family. Don’t be afraid to adjust the spice levels or add additional ingredients like vegetables to make it your own.

Using high-quality ingredients, such as fresh chicken and spice powders, will ensure that your Sri Lankan chicken curry is as delicious as possible. Give it a try today, and experience the flavors of Sri Lanka in your own kitchen!

Sri Lanka has been a region of service for Convoy of Hope since 2004. Convoy is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that first responded in Sri Lanka when a devastating tsunami took thousands of lives that year. Convoy’s driving passion to feed the world includes multiple communities in Sri Lanka where children receive regular, nutritious meals.

Recipe

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

This Sri Lankan dish is a variation of classic chicken curry that originated in India and has since been adapted in various ways.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 393 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs or chicken pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 onions (sliced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 piece ginger (1-inch piece grated)
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 curry leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoon roasted curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a large pan or Dutch oven.
  • Once hot, add the sliced onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown.
  • Add the minced garlic and grated ginger to the pan. Cook for another minute or two, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  • Add the chicken to the pan and stir well to coat it with the onion, garlic, and ginger mixture.
  • Cook the chicken for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until it is browned on all sides.
  • Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and fennel seeds to the pan. Stir well to combine.
  • Add the roasted curry powder, chili powder, salt, and black pepper to the pan. Stir well to combine.
  • Add the cup of water to the pan and stir well.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Add the coconut milk, curry leaves, and pandan leaves to the pan and stir well. Let the mixture simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
  • Serve over rice or with naan bread. Enjoy!
    Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Notes

This recipe can be adapted to use boneless chicken, chicken breasts, or any other cut of chicken. If pandan leaves are not available in your supermarket, they can be omitted.
Keyword Sri Lankan Chicken Curry
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