Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Big shout-out to The Curry Guy for the recipe. I’ve gone off-piste (who, what, me?) and used large chicken thighs on the bone for extra flavour, but I’ve kept to his recipe in most other ways.

Sri Lankan curries in my experience usually have a coconut element; here, it’s a tin of coconut milk, with green chillies, green bell pepper, and loads of spices.

Serves: 4-8


  • 1kg chicken thighs on the bone
  • 2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5-7 green cardamom pods, bashed until they open
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 20 or so curry leaves
  • 2 brown onions, sliced
  • 2 medium-sized (3-4″) hot green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black or rainbow pepper
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, crushed with sea salt to make a paste
  • 2″ fresh ginger root, grated (no need to peel)
  • 2 medium or 3 small green bell peppers, sliced/chopped
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • Cooked rice, to serve


  • An oven-safe plate
  • A large, heavy stockpot (10″/26cm width, and 4&1/2″ / 12cm deep or so)
  • Tongs
  • Chopping board and sharp knife
  • A fine grater
  • Bowls/plates for all prepped ingredients


  1. Preheat your oven to 50C (or the lowest heat), with an oven-safe plate in.
  2. Get all spices, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, peppers etc chopped/grated/crushed/measured onto plates or into bowls.
  3. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot on a very high heat. Put in the chicken thighs, and let them brown all over for about 5 minutes, turning over with tongs regularly. Remove to the warmed plate and leave in the oven.
  4. Splash the soy sauce into the pot to deglaze it. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, mustard seeds, bay leaves, and curry leaves, and stir on a high heat for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the sliced onions and stir regularly on a medium-high heat until they are softened and going golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.
  6. Add the hot green chillies with the ground spices, then add the crushed garlic/salt and grated ginger. Stir for a minute or so on high heat, then add the green bell peppers and the tomatoes.
  7. Remove the chicken from the oven and tip into the pot with all the resting juices (turn off the oven). Whack the hob heat up to high, add the coconut milk, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over regularly to ensure they cook evenly.
  8. Serve with cooked rice – fish out the cinnamon stick and the cardamom pods from the curry and put into the rice whilst it’s cooking for extra flavour.

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