Passport to South Asia- Srilankan Tamil Chicken Curry

One aspect that brings together culture, is food. Whether it be the spices or the method of preparation, food is a cultural conversation.

In such conversation is where I was introduced to cooking. There were no measuring cups or spoons, no recipie books, just a story on how to feed your family, passed from generation to generation. Conversations at holidays consisted of the women sharing their recipes with one another, “oh I use coconut milk” “really? I just add water”. Such was how I learned my own way through traditional cooking.

One of the very first recipes I learned and often a staple curry in many South Asian families, is chicken curry. I would describe this as the beginner level curry of Srilankan cooking, because it’s that simple! Here is how:


  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 stems of plucked curry leaves
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk


  1. Clean your chicken breasts ensuring there is no skin left, and chop into cube-like chunks.
  2. Marinate your chicken with the ginger, garlic, and salt. While the chicken sets, chop your onions.
  3. Once the onions have been chopped and the chicken has been left to marinate for atleast 5 minutes, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Pour your olive oil, and once heated, add the chopped onions and stir until they reach a light golden brown color.
  4. Next, add your spices. Add the cumin, mustard seeds, cardamom pods, curry leaves. A minute later, you should hear a popping sound from the cumin needs, this indicates the spices are “opening up”, providing that deep flavour to the curry.
  5. Next, add the chopped tomatoes. Stir until combined.
  6. Add the chopped meat. Cover the meat with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Once cooked, add the curry poweder and chilli powder, ensuring the meat is well coated. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Finally, add 1 cup of water to the curry, and 1 tbsp of coconut milk, to add some extra fragrance. Cover the curry once again, and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Removed from heat once cooked and serve warm.

And there you have it! Once spicy side dish sure to please the senses. Approved by yours truly- S.


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