Recipes of the world: Kukul MasVanjanaya (chicken curry, Sri Lanka)

written by Intrepid Travel November 20, 2014

Rice and curry is the king of Sri Lankan cuisine. There’s a slew of variations depending on what region of Sri Lanka you visit, but the structure is usually the same: spices tempered in hot oil before being combined with chicken, fish or other meat, and coconut milk – essential for the oh-so-delicious curry sauces. Combine with rice or roti, and you’re on to a surefire winner.

Here’s a recipe you can experience on Intrepid’s Real Food Adventure Sri Lanka. Rustle it up at home, and we defy you not to get the urge to visit Sri Lanka to feast on the real thing!


1.5kg skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons roasted curry powder
2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 sprig curry-leaf, about 1 sprig curry-leaf, about 8 leaves
2 green chillies, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 (1-inch) stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
3 cardamom pods, crushed
2 whole cloves, crushed
1 stalk rampa/lemon grass, cut into 1”-long pieces/ water
1 cup coconut milk or fresh milk
2 tablespoons olive oil/ cooking oil
2 tablespoons lime juice


1. Wash the chicken and pat dry. In a bowl, combine ground black pepper, roasted curry powder, chilli powder, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tamarind paste, sugar and salt. Coat the chicken pieces with the spice mixture and allow it to marinate for 30 minutes.

2. Heat oil in a clay pot, stir-fry curry leaves, green chilies, and onion. Stir in tomato paste, ginger and garlic. Add marinated chicken and stir for 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle broken cinnamon pieces, crushed cardamom, and crushed cloves over the chicken mixture. Add lemon grass /rampa and stir well. Pour water over the chicken just enough to cover the mixture (about 1-2 cups).

3. Cover and cook until the mixture simmers. Add coconut milk and return to boiling, and boil, uncovered, about 5 minutes. Add lime juice. Add more salt if necessary.

Serve, eat, savour.

Inspired to experience the flavours or Sri Lanka for yourself? Head out on Intrepid’s Real Food Adventure Sri Lanka, and you can do just that.

Image c/o Claire Rowland, Flickr


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