Sri Lankan Jaffna chicken curry

Sri Lankan Jaffna chicken curry

Sri Lankan food has flavour, spice and island written all over it. While growing up in India, I used to watch Peter Kuruvita’s My Sri lanka on Fox Channel. His cooking was simple, full of fresh ingredients and at such idyllic locations, I was in love with that show. Fresh curry leaves spluttering in the oil with a backdrop of sandy beaches and palm trees, is such a comforting feeling.

Well, here in London there aren’t tropical places like Sri lanka but we do get good ingredients to cook some authentic or atleast near to authentic sri lankan food. My BFF is Sri lankan british so I often get treated so his style of chicken curry.

This one is my version using Jaffna Curry powder that I got from Sambal (a sri lankan deli store in east london). So let’s dive in.


  • 350 gms chicken drumsticks and thigh portions. Increase the quantity depending on number of people you have to cook for.
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 medium tomatoes finely diced. You can also use 10-12 cherry tomatoes cut in halves
  • 1/2 can of coconut milk
  • 8-10 fresh or dried curry leaves
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp jaffna curry powder. If you do not have it feel free to use Hot Madras Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2-3 dry red chillies
  • 1-2 star anise
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil 2-3 tbsp
  • Coriander for garnish
  • Lemon juice (Optional)


  • In a wok/kadai heat oil. Once hot add mustard seeds and allow them to splutter. Add the dry chillies and star anise and fry for few seconds. Then add onions and fry till translucent or pink
  • Now add curry leaves and fry for few minutes
  • Add ginger garlic paste and cook till it loses its raw smell.
  • Now add turmeric, chilli powder and mix well.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and mix well. Allow the tomatoes to soften and the oil to separate. This will take about 5-8 minutes. Stir and do not let it stick to the bottom.
  • Now add the Jaffna/Hot madras curry powder. Mix it well.
  • Add the chicken and roast it well with all the onion and spice mix. Add some salt. Add little water to loosen the mixture if its dry and sticking to the pan. Let the chicken roast for sometime about 10-12 minutes.
  • ┬áNow add the coconut milk and some water if you want to think it down. Cover with a lid and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Check if the chicken is cooked. The curry would have thickened. If all is cooked and you have the desired consistency remove from heat.
  • Add some lemon juice if you prefer. Garnish with coriander and serve with roti, naan or rice.

Recipe Variations : You can make a lamb or pork or beef curry with the same recipe. If you want to pack it with vegetable you can add like green beans and cook with chicken. Or any other vegetable as well will do, totally adaptable as you like. If you don’t have Madras curry or jaffna curry powder, just add 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp fennel and 1 tsp black pepper powder. Most places Madras or south indian curry powder is available.

This chicken curry is packed with flavour. Serve hot with rice and it’s like golden liquid with so much protein. Best part about this recipe is there is no grinding of masalas and standing to roast them for hours. It’s simple, clean recipe which cooks quick all in just one pot.

Let me know if you try this and how it turns out to be. I will pen down some more sri lankan recipes that I have learnt and tested.

Until next time, eat healthy.

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