Sri Lankan Coconut Chicken Curry

    1 hour

    This Sri Lankan curry is spicy and full of flavour. Serve with basmati or jasmine rice and any other curried dish.

    37 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon tamarind juice
    • 1/4 cup Madras curry powder
    • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 1 red onion, sliced
    • 4 green chillies, halved lengthways
    • 8 green cardamom pods
    • 6 whole cloves
    • 12 curry leaves
    • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, crushed
    • 3cm cinnamon stick, broken in half
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup (125ml) water
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 3 tablespoons roasted Madras curry powder
    • 1 cup (250ml) coconut milk

    Preparation:25min  ›  Cook:35min  ›  Ready in:1hour 

    1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Combine the vinegar, tamarind juice, 1/4 cup curry powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat.
    2. Heat the coconut oil in a wok or frying pan over medium heat. Cook the sliced onion, green chillies, cardamom pods, cloves, curry leaves, ginger and cinnamon stick until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking and stirring until the onion is very tender and dark brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
    3. Add the chicken mixture, water and tomato paste. Stir and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted curry powder and stir until evenly dispersed.
    4. Gradually stir in the coconut milk and simmer for 2-3 more minutes. (Do not overheat or the coconut milk may curdle.)


    Roasted curry powder and tamarind juice are available from specialty purveyors or online sources. If curry leaves are unavailable, you may substitute 2 bay leaves.


    To roast your own curry powder, heat 3 tablespoons of curry powder in an ungreased frypan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and slightly browned. Immediately transfer the spice to a bowl to cool.

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    Reviews in English (19)


    Exotic, spicy, delicious! I reduced the salt & pepper, instead just shaking them well over the chicken & marinade mixture while stirring. I didn't have everything on hand so omitted tamarind, curry leaves; subbed canola for coconut oil, used yellow onions and whole dried red chili peppers cause that's what I had... This was fabulous. I think the quality of the curry powder matters, the recipe calling for at least twice what I've ever used in one dish before. I used a Madras curry powder purchased at an Indian shop near my parish. Served this to company, everyone had seconds. Goes great with beer.  -  31 Dec 2010  (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)


    This curry was one of the best and most delicious I've ever had. It was rich and had a wonderful blend of flavours. Definitely a keeper. The only thing I will do differently in the future is to cut down on the salt a tad. Thank you for sharing this recipe!  -  26 Sep 2010  (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)


    My boyfriend is Sri Lankan and I used this recipe to test out my Sri Lankan cooking ability! He thought it was as good as (if not better) than his parents chicken curries!  -  01 Aug 2011  (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)