A classic Sri Lankan chicken curry that’s full of flavour and best made with chicken on the bone. Charmaine Solomon has made this recipe for decades – it’s always a marvellous meal. Serve with stringhoppers if you can (or otherwise rice).






Skill level

Average: 3.7 (242 votes)


  • 2 tbsp clarified butter (ghee) or vegetable oil (or a combination) 
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds 
  • 10 curry leaves on the stem 
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped 
  • 4–5 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 2 tsp grated ginger 
  • 1 tsp turmeric 
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander 
  • ½ tsp ground fennel 
  • 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 
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised 
  • 1 pandan leaf, folded 
  • 1.5 kg chicken thighs on the bone 
  • 250 ml thick coconut milk 
  • lemon juice (optional)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Heat the ghee or oil and fry the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves until the leaves start to brown. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry gently until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the ground spices, salt and vinegar and stir well. Add the tomato, whole spices, lemongrass and pandan leaf, then add the chicken. Stir to coat the chicken pieces in the spices, then cover and cook over low heat for 40–50 minutes. The curry will look dry at first but liquid will be released from the chicken.

Stir in the coconut milk and taste for salt. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired.


Want more recipes like this? We recommend: 

• Our spice-laden Sri Lankan recipe collection
• Charmaine Solomon's full recipe collection.
• Accompany with coconut sambol and dry lime pickle.
• Sweet stars: Sri Lankan love cake or banana split.