Recipe: Sri Lankan Coconut & Turmeric Chicken Curry



  • 1 white onion, grated
  • 4cm piece (20g) ginger, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, plus 2 x 180g chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) coconut oil
  • 1 long red chilli, finely chopped, plus extra thinly sliced chilli to serve
  • 1 tbs each ground turmeric and cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cup curry leaves, plus extra fried leaves, to serve
  • 400ml coconut cream
  • 1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
  • 2 tbs cashews, crushed, plus extra to serve
  • Coconut flakes, sliced spring onions and micro coriander, to serve


  • Combine onion, ginger and garlic in a large bowl. Add chicken thigh and breasts and turn to coat. Set aside for 20 minutes to marinate.
  • Heat 2 tbs coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove chicken from marinade and season with salt. Reserve marinade. In two batches, cook chicken, turning, for 5 minutes or until golden.
  • Remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining 1 tbs oil to the pan with chilli, spices, curry leaves and reserved marinade. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  • Return chicken to pan and stir to coat. Add coconut cream and stock, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pan with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, then remove lid and reduce heat to low (add a little extra stock or water if curry looks too dry).
  • Simmer, stirring occasionally, for a further 20 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Stir cashews through the curry in the final 5 minutes of cooking to warm through. Season.
  • Remove chicken breast from curry and thickly slice. Divide curry among bowls. Top with sliced chicken, chilli, fried curry leaves, coconut flakes, spring onion, micro coriander and extra cashews.

Chicken curry is a common delicacy in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, as well as in the Caribbean (specifically Trinidad, where it is usually referred to as curry chicken). A typical curry from the Indian subcontinent consists of chicken stewed in an onion- and tomato-based sauce, flavoured with ginger, garlic, mango chutney, tomato puree, chili peppers and a variety of spices, often including turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and so on.  Outside South Asia, chicken curry is often made with a pre-made sauce.


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