Kolamba Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe

Sri Lankan chicken curry

  • serves 4
  • Easy

Make this your go-to special chicken curry. Straight from the kitchen of London's Kolamba restaurant, this Sri Lankan recipe uses oodles of fresh spices and a homemade roasted curry powder


Try this Sri Lankan chicken curry, then check out our Keralan chicken curry, Chettinad chicken,  chicken biryani and more chicken curry recipes.

In the restaurant Kolamba serves this dish garnished with deep-fried gotukola, which is a herbaceous plant found in Asia. Swap this for fried curry leaves and a pinch of dried chilli flakes, if you like. Read our review of Kolamba restaurant here.

*This recipe is gluten-free according to industry standards



  • vegetable oil 2 tbsp
  • fenugreek seeds ¼ tsp
  • curry leaves 8
  • onions 2 medium, thinly sliced
  • garlic 6 cloves, finely chopped
  • ginger a thumb-sized piece, finely chopped
  • ground turmeric 1 ½ tsp
  • mild chilli powder 1 tsp
  • white wine vinegar 2 tbsp
  • tomatoes 2, peeled and chopped
  • cardamom 6 pods, cracked
  • cloves 5, cracked
  • cinnamon 1 stick
  • lemongrass 1 stick, bruised
  • pandan leaf 5cm piece (optional)
  • skinless chicken thighs 8
  • coconut milk 400ml tin
  • lemon juice 2 tsp
  • cooked rice to serve


  • cardamom 4 pods, seeds extracted and shells discarded
  • basmati rice 1 tsp
  • coriander seeds 1 tsp
  • cumin seeds 1 tsp
  • black peppercorns 1 tsp
  • black mustard seeds 1 tsp
  • fennel seeds 1 tsp
  • cloves 4


  • Step 1

    To make the roasted curry powder, put all of the ingredients into a large, deep frying pan and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned and smelling toasty. Cool, then grind using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. This will make more than you’ll need but will keep in an airtight jar for a month.

  • Step 2

    Heat the vegetable oil and fry the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves until the leaves start to brown. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and fry gently for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the ground turmeric, chilli powder, 2 tsp of the roasted curry powder and the vinegar, and stir well.

  • Step 3

    Add the tomatoes, whole spices, lemongrass and pandan leaf, if using, then add the chicken and season. Stir to coat the chicken pieces in the spices, cover and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat. Add the coconut milk, cover and cook on low for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Stir in the lemon juice and serve with rice.

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Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 459
  • Fat 31.8g
  • Saturates 17.5g
  • Carbs 12.5g
  • Sugars 7.8g
  • Fibre 3.4g
  • Protein 29.1g
  • Salt 2.6g