Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

This recipe for two is great for date night!

Photo by Allison of Culinary Cupcake

My first experience with Sri Lankan food occurred as pure happenstance. We were meeting some old friends of my husband’s for dinner. It my husband and mine’s first time to this particular neighborhood so we did not know where to eat. The other couple sort of knew the area, but all the places they recommended were busy. We found a place that served Sri Lankan food that looked promising and had an experience. We ordered a few dishes that sounded delicious. My favorite part was the curry chicken. I felt that Sri Lankan curry was so different from any of the curries I had ever had before. The spiciness had a slow build up to it and the sauce had a nice balance of heat and flavor. I thought I would do some research and try to recreate the restaurant flavors at home.

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe

Yields 2 servings

Specialty tools: Saute Pan with a lid

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook Time 43 minutes

Beer Pairing Suggestion: Pale Ale

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Pinot Grigio


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound bone in chicken thighs

1/2 small yellow onion chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch of ginger minced

2 bay leaves or 6 curry leaves

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 small Serrano or small jalapeno pepper, sliced

1 teaspoon paprika

7 ounces chopped tomatoes in juice or two tomatoes roughly chopped with

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/4 cup coconut milk, unsweetened

1/2 cup water

chopped cilantro for garnish


Heat saute pan to medium heat. Brown the chicken, this will take about 5 minutes. Take out the chicken and set aside on a plate.

Add the onion to the pan and saute for 3 minutes in the oil and chicken juices. Add the garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the bay leaves, cumin, coriander, black pepper, salt, cinnamon stick, red pepper. Stir and coat the onions for 2 minutes.

Put the chicken back into the pan, along with the Serrano pepper, paprika, tomatoes, and brown sugar. Coat the chicken in the spices and tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring the sauce frequently to make sure the tomatoes and spices do not burn.

Add the coconut milk, water, and white vinegar and bring the sauce to a boil.

Close the pan with a lid and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes. Stir the sauce and chicken occasionally to prevent the curry from burning.

Using a meat thermometer make sure the chicken is fully cooked at 165 F. Remove the leaves and cinnamon stick from the curry.

Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve hot.

Serve with rice, roti, or naan.

Adjust the spiciness to your taste. If you do not want a spicy curry at all omit the red pepper flakes and Serrano peppers.


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