Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Although I love all types of food, curry is closest to my heart. It doesn’t matter what type of curry it is, it’s my ultimate comfort food. If you search the internet you can find many types of curries. I have lots of experience making curries from Bangladesh, India, Thailand, and Nepal.

Recently I’ve focused on making curries from Sri Lanka. Here I make chicken curry since it’s very well known and popular all over the world.  You can make this curry with cut-up whole chicken or just leg or thigh pieces.  I am using chicken hind quarters which include the thigh and drumstick meat.

One thing that makes Sri Lankan chicken curry unique is coconut vinegar. This might not be in every store, but I was able to locate some in our local Safeway grocery store. If you can’t find it, you can use apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, although the latter might be a touch acidic.

I left most of the chicken skin on as I made the curry to make it rich; you don’t have to use the skin if you don’t want to.  You could also use boneless chicken.  I would recommend using thigh meat as it has more flavor and won’t overcook easily. If you go this route, know that boneless chicken will cook faster.

This curry is pretty easy to make since it uses store-bought curry powder.  That saves a lot of time!

Depending on the curry powder you use your curry can turn out mild or slightly spicy.  You can make it spicier by adding more of the jalepeno pepper and chili flakes.  You can serve the curry over cooked rice, roti, or naan.



  • 4.5 lbs. or 4 chicken hind quarters, excess fat trimmed
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 tbsp. Indian hot curry powder (I bought mine at a Asian supermarket)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tsp. salt (start with 2 tsp. add more later)
  • 1 4-inch long cinnamon stick, broken into two pieces
  • 2 cinnamon leaves or 8 curry leaves
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled, rough chop, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 2 tbsp. peeled ginger, rough chop
  • 2 tbsp. peeled garlic, rough chop
  • 1/4 cup or 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, trimmed, rough chop
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 14 oz. can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. coconut vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. chili flakes (optional)


Place the chicken hind quarters in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle half the curry powder and half the salt over the chicken pieces. Use your clean hands to rub the spices all over the chicken. Set aside until you get all other ingredients ready.

Trim excess fat
Sprinkle curry powder and salt
Rub very well

Place garlic and ginger in a food processor, then mince, scraping down the sides if needed. Next, add jalapeno, half of the cilantro, and onion to the food processor. Process until coarsely ground. Add the rest of the salt, curry powder, and turmeric to the food processor. Pulse a few times until everything is mixed.


Heat oil in a large heavy bottom sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon sticks and cinnamon leaves (torn into two pieces) and cook for 30 seconds. Add chicken pieces to the pan, skin side down. Cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown, then flip the chicken over gently so skin doesn’t get stuck on the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to low, then remove the chicken pieces and transfer it to a bowl or a plate. Set aside.

Add spice paste to the pan, stir well, and scrap all the brown bits from the bottom and the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low, cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add tomatoes, turn the heat up to medium, cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring often so mixture doesn’t burn.

Add coconut milk, water, and vinegar to the pan.


Mix well, then add the chicken pieces along with all the accumulated juices on the bowl. Gently stir well.

Cover and place it in the preheated oven for an hour and 20 minutes. Check frequently to make sure there is enough liquid in the pan.

Once finished, take the curry out of the oven, stirring in the rest of the cilantro. Taste for seasoning, then add the chili flakes if preferred. Serve the curry cover some cooked jasmine or basmati rice!


Serves 6-8

Did you make this dish? I’d love to know how it turns out! Feel free to like this post and comment or use the hashtag #globaldinein on Instagram. If you would like to be notified of upcoming posts, please consider subscribing to my blog!

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