Sri Lankan Chicken Curry (Paleo)


Chicken Curry is one dish that I never get tired of trying out new recipes for!  Chicken is in fact a very safe thing to experiment on – since you can never go wrong with chicken! Any which way you cook it, it always turns out delicious! And those of you who think that ‘a curry is a curry is a curry…’, sorry but I beg to differ!   The different blend of spices as well as the proportion of those spices that goes in a curry is very important and gives the curry its own unique flavor.  And hence Kamala aunty’s chicken curry is so delicious but yet different from grandma’s chicken curry! That is the reason I am always asking folks for their chicken curry recipes! – Hey there is no shame in asking! 🙂

And I thought that there could be so many variations of chicken curry only all across India, so imagine my excitement on seeing a recipe for Colombo Chicken curry or Sri Lankan Chicken curry in my favorite recipe book, “Mangoes and Curry leaves’‘!  Yes you guessed it right …I was super excited and could not wait to try this recipe.! Now Kerala cuisine and Sri Lankan cuisine have a lot of similarities in their use of coconut, coconut oil etc. This recipe uses toasted coconut or browned coconut (similar to the Brown Shrimp curry I had posted a while ago). In Kerala too, chicken curry is prepared in a similar way using toasted coconut but it was the slight differences in the recipe ( addition of cashew nuts, rice flour etc) that made me very keen on trying this recipe.

And how did it turn out – ‘simply finger-licking fabulous’! I added potatoes additionally since I just love potatoes in my chicken curry! Only changes I made was that I reduced the quantity of cashew nuts and increased the amount of coconut from the original recipe since I did not want the curry to be too rich. I also added red chilli powder a little bit (just the Indian in me!) – but you can skip if you want to keep it mildly hot.










Sri Lankan Chicken Curry (Paleo)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
A lip smacking delicious chicken curry cooked with a blend of spices and in a cashew nut and coconut milk sauce
  • 2 lbs (about 1 kg) Chicken pieces (preferably thigh pieces and / a mix of thigh and drumstick pieces)
For the marinade:
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tbsp cashew nuts
  • 1 tbsp raw white rice (I used rice flour since I did not want to grind rice in my food processor!)
  • 3 tbsp fresh, frozen(thawed) or dried coconut
  • one ½ inch piece of cinnamon
  • 3 green cardamom seeds
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
For the sauce:
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • ½ cup thinly sliced shallots or red onions
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ - ¾ tsp red chilli powder (optional but recommend if you like some heat in your chicken curry!)
  • 2 Small tomatoes, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh or canned thick coconut milk
  • ½ cup water or as needed
  • fresh sprig of curry leaves (optional)
  1. Take a medium size frying pan and toast the grated coconut for about 8-10 minutes on medium heat until it turns light brown in color (Be careful not to burn it! ). Transfer the browned coconut into a plate and now toast the cashew nuts, the cumin seeds and the coriander seeds too one at a time. Add all the rest of the 'marinade' ingredients into the pan and just saute for a minute(with the heat off). Grind everything together into a fine paste using a food processor.
  2. Mix the above spice marinade mix with the chicken pieces and set aside.
  3. Take a medium size cooking pot and add the oil to it. Next add the onions and saute for about 2 minutes. Next add the green chillies and ginger and salt and saute for another couple minutes until the onions turn translucent. Next add the red chilli (if adding) and the tomatoes and again cook for another 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes turn soft.
  4. Now add the chicken pieces and mix well. Add the coconut milk and cover and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so. Adjust the consistency of the curry to your liking by adding water as needed.
  5. Garnish with curry leaves and serve hot with parboiled rice or brown rice.

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  1. Most of my curry recipes are from the north, but this one is quite different. Will bookmark it for sure. Glad you were able to join us this week at FF.

    • Hi Hilda yes south Indian curries are indeed quite different from the North Indian curries. And Kerala and Sri Lanka have many things in common like the use of coconut and spices! Happy fiesta Friday. Hats off to you for continuing to co-host this week too! 🙂

  2. Yum! Love a good chicken curry, even better with coconut milk! The gravy sounds & looks so rich with all the nuts & spices!

  3. While I like posting vegetarian dishes on my blog, I have posted some non-vegetarian dishes both sent in by friends as well as some that my mother remembered from her childhood or from when she used to cook non-veg dishes herself. I particularly remember that I used to like the crab and fish dishes that my mother made and I think you will like it as well, Sonal –

  4. Your chicken curry looks delicious, Indu… nice to see you trying out a Sri Lankan dish. I agree Sri Lankan cooking has similarities with Kerala cuisine, particularly in the use of coconut. Have a lovely day! 🙂

  5. Indu, this looks fabulous! I just made a chicken curry, but failed spectacularly, so I will be retrying it with your recipe! All those herbs and spices must make this dish explode with flavor. Can’t wait to eat at your house someday. 🙂

      • Thank you for the recipe Indu! I already had this one printed too, but I was holding off because I don’t have curry leaves. Do you know if there is any good substitute for curry leaves? I am guessing not, but I’ve never seen them sold at the grocery before….

        • Hi Ngan Fresh curry leaves is really great in any Indian especially south indian curry. However you can make this curry without them too and it will still be good! The fresh curry leaves impart a subtle additional flavor – that’s all. You can find fresh curry leaves at any Indian grocers. Do you have one near you? I use so much curry leaves that i am considering buying a plant – Not sure if it will grow indoors though.

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