Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sri Lankan Curry Chicken

Mr G: "what curry are you making today?"
Me: "Sri Lankan curry chicken"

~ and then there was silence ~

Me: (thinking) I think he must be thinking, is it going to be another weird dish she's cooking. HAHA!!

After checking out the list of ingredients and the way to cook the curry, I doubt it. But well, Mr G is pretty fussy with his curry so we shall see.

Whilst I was preparing the ingredients for this curry, a hint of nostalgia came to me. Honestly, I might have eaten this kind of curry before but then I was probably too young to tell the difference between our local curry and Sri Lankan curry. Back then, we had a helper who was from Sri Lanka when we were much younger since my parents often had to work shifts. As our only companion, we spent alot of time with Auntie J. She was jovial and bubbly. I love to chat with her since she was the only adult around and my sisters were too young to understand me as well. Tears well up in my eyes as I thought of her. Auntie J is currently far far away working in another continent of the world and from the last I know, she's doing very well over there.

This is my first time cooking Sri Lankan curry and I'm pretty confident that it won't be my last.

If you may ask, what is so unique about Sri Lankan curry? Before that, did you know that Sri Lankan cuisine is one of the most complex cuisines in Southeast Asia? The national dish is steamed or boiled rice with curry. Although its curries are somewhat similar to that of curries in South India, it is distinct in its own ways. Sri Lanka is renowned for its spices and these spices are used liberally in Sri Lankan cuisine. However, Sri Lankan people do not follow an exact recipe for their curries. 

One thing you can be sure is that Sri Lankan curries are generally equivalent to South Indian curries which are known to be one of the world's hottest in terms of chilli content.

This recipe is taken from Charmaine Solomon, known to be the queen of Asian cooking in Australia and she was born in Sri Lanka. Judging from the list of ingredients, you may think this is such a cumbersome curry recipe. Trust me, you will soon see why it's all worth it.

See my modifications in blue.


2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil or combination of both
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds I realised I don't have these @@
10 curry leaves on stem I love the fragrance of the curry leaves so I added 20 curry leaves
2 large onions, finely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp 2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground fennel I didn't have these too @@
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cardamom pods, cracked
1 cinnamon stick I didn't have this too haha @@
1 lemongrass stalk, bruised
1 pandan leaf, folded I added a whole stalk of pandan leaves, washed and tied into a knot
1.5kg chicken thighs I used a whole packet of 1kg chicken drumsticks
250ml coconut milk
some water

  1. Heat the ghee or oil and fry the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves until the leaves start to turn brown.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry gently until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add the the ground spices, salt and vinegar and stir well.
  4. Add the tomatoes, whole spices, lemongrass and pandan leaf, then add the chicken.
  5. Stir to coat the chicken with all the spices, then cover and cook over low heat for 40 to 50 minutes. The curry will look dry at first but liquid will be released from the chicken. I added some water to allow the chicken to cook and simmer in the liquid. Thereafter, add vegetables of your own choice like ladyfingers and cauliflower.
  6. Stir in the coconut milk and taste for salt. I added half a chicken cube stock. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired.

Since I didn't add tomatoes, I literally add both steps 3 and 4 together. 

I love how vibrant the ground spices look. Don't you?

Displaying IMG_20140504_152949.jpg

See how my Sri Lankan chicken curry turned out. It may look like any ordinary curry but trust me, when I had a sip of the curry to taste it. I was pleasantly surprised.

Mr G: "can I have a small bowl of curry first?"

I thought this was pretty peculiar since Mr G is a sucker for curries. Then I realised he was quite skeptical and was worried the curry didn't turn out nice. Haha

Me: "I'm sure you will be asking for a second helping." *wink*

True enough, as he was slurping the curry and savouring the chicken, he said this is the kind of curry I like!! It has the robust flavour, the spices and fragrance of the pandan leaves. I love it. Please cook more of such curries in future. Oh no, what have I gotten myself into? Haha!!

If you are looking for a decent curry, I would ask you to be open-minded and try this curry. I'm very sure you will love it as much as I do. Now it's my turn to get a bowl of curry chicken myself ;)

I'm submitting this post to Asian Food Fest for this month hosted by Alvin of Chef and Sommelier.

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