Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

, from Issue #92. August, 2020
Photography by Sarah Tuck.
Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Despite its vibrant hue, this curry has a mellow elegance that suits all palates.

Serves: 4


2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon each fennel seeds and coriander seeds
½ teaspoon each fenugreek seeds and black peppercorns

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
8 curry leaves
1 brown onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised,
750 grams skinless chicken thighs, halved
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
400ml tin coconut milk
juice 1 lime


Spices: Put the spices in a dry frying pan and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Cool, then put in a small food processor and whizz, or pound in a mortar and pestle until finely ground.

Curry: Heat the oil in large frying pan and fry the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves until the leaves start to brown. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the turmeric, chilli, cloves and toasted spices and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes, lemongrass and chicken. Stir to coat the chicken in the spices, cover and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat. 

Add the tamarind paste and coconut milk, cover and cook on low for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and cook a further 10 minutes until the chicken is tender. Squeeze over the lime juice before serving.