Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

(Photo by Mary Anne Mohanraj/Flickr)

Serves 6.


1 x 1.5 kg/3 lb roasting chicken
3 tablespoons ghee or oil
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
sprig of fresh curry leaves
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1-2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons paprika (optional)
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cardamom pods, bruised
1 stick cinnamon
1 stalk lemon grass
250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup thick coconut milk
lime juice (optional)


Cut chicken into curry pieces. Heat ghee or oil and on low heat fry fenugreek seeds and curry leaves until they start to brown. Add onion, garlic and ginger and fry gently until onions are soft and golden. Add turmeric, chilli, coriander, cumin, fennel, salt and vinegar. If the curry isn't quite red enough, add the paprika because while it isn't used in Sri Lanka, using enough chilli to give the required colour would mean a curry too hot for most people. Stir well, add chicken and turn the pieces in the mixture. Add tomatoes, whole spices and lemon grass. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Add coconut milk, cook uncovered for a further few minutes, then remove from heat and stir in a squeeze of lime juice if desired. Serve with rice and accompaniments.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)