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Chicken curry

This chicken curry is definitely on my top five list of favourite comfort foods. The secret is in the sauce, as they say, and the roasted curry powder is essential. This dish is delicious with white rice or coconut roti, white potato curry, and cucumber salad village-style.



  • 1–1-1/4 lb bone-in chicken thighs (3–4 thighs)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 heaping teaspoon roasted curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1-1/2–2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped small red onion, divided
  • 4 curry leaves, ripped into small pieces
  • 1-inch-wide piece of pandanus leaf, fresh or frozen
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 small lime wedge (yielding about 1 teaspoon juice)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped Roma tomato
  • 1 green (Thai) chili, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk mixed with 1/4 cup water


  1. Skin and wash the chicken, and trim off the fat. Pat dry with paper towels. Cut the chicken thighs (along the bone) into two or three pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, place the chicken, paprika, curry powder, cayenne, turmeric, pepper, garlic, ginger, half the onion, curry leaves, pandanus leaf, and salt. Squeeze the lime wedge over top and combine the ingredients with your hands.
  3. Cover and let marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature or 30 minutes in the fridge. (Let the chicken return to room temperature before cooking if you marinate it in the fridge.)
  4. In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat. Add first the remaining onion. Fry until the onion is turning golden brown and then add the chili to temper. Add the tomato and sauté, stirring, until the tomato has softened, about 30 seconds to one minute.
  5. Add the chicken mixture, stir, cover, turn the heat down to medium, and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken releases its natural juices, approximately five minutes. Add the coconut milk mixed with water to the chicken. The coconut milk will reach a rapid simmer almost as soon as it is added. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and continue cooking on a slow simmer for one hour. Check and stir periodically to see if more coconut milk or water are required. If so, add two tablespoons of either at a time.
  6. Turn off the heat and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Remove the pandanus leaf before serving.
  7. This recipe can be easily doubled. Simply double all the ingredients, using a mix of drumsticks and thighs, and increase the marinating time to between two hours and overnight.
  8. Wash your hands extra thoroughly after you’ve used them to mix in the cayenne and the other spices with the chicken.
  9. Keep a slow simmer to bring out the flavours of the spices and make the chicken soft and tender.


Recipe by Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama, from Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves, copyright © 2020 by Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama. Reprinted with permission of TouchWood Editions. 

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