This Sri Lankan curry is rich, creamy and very comforting. Grinding the spices yourself will give it a bolder flavour and complements the lemongrass and ginger beautifully.






Skill level

Average: 3.8 (63 votes)


  • 1 kg chicken thigh fillet, diced into large bite-size pieces
  • 3 tsp white vinegar
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 100 ml vegetable oil
  • 5 g black mustard seeds
  • 3 sprigs fresh curry leaves, leaves picked
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 g whole cloves
  • 5 g green cardamom pods
  • 1 pandan leaf, finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, bruised and finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 20 g garlic cloves, crushed
  • 15 g ginger, grated
  • 30 g tomato paste
  • 300 ml coconut milk
  • steamed basmati rice, yoghurt and coriander sprigs, to serve

Curry powder

  • 5 g cumin seeds
  • 2 whole dried chillies
  • 10 g smoked paprika
  • 10 g hot chilli powder
  • 5 g coriander seeds
  • 5 g ground turmeric

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.


Marinating time: 3 hours

  1. For the curry powder, place all the spices in a dry frying pan and shake over medium heat until fragrant. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind into a fine powder.
  2. Place the chicken, vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the curry powder in a bowl, stir to coat and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight if time permits.
  3. Heat oil in a large wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and stir until they start popping. Quickly stir in the curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add the onions and cook until golden.
  4. Add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, pandan leaf and lemongrass. Stir for 2-3 minutes or until aromatic. Add the tomato, garlic and ginger and cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft. Stir in 20 g of the curry powder and the tomato paste and cook for 1–2 minutes. Add the chicken and coconut milk, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender.
  5. Serve with steamed rice, yoghurt and coriander.


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Photography by Adam Liaw.