Firey delicious Sri Lankan spicy chicken curry to celebrate Sri Lankan new year

spicy chicken curry
Jump to Recipe
  1. Back story of the spicy chicken curry
  2. Tips of prepping and cooking spicy chicken curry
    1. What cut of meat is best and how to prep your whole chicken for a curry
    2. Flavors and curry mix for the spicy chicken curry
  3. Printable spicy chicken curry village style

A spicy chicken curry with coconut milk, tamarind, and plenty of chilies with aromatic red curry is perfect for any occasion with Sri Lankan curry lovers. Whether you are entertaining a few guests who like a spicy flair, or spicy family dinner or a crowd, this spicy chicken curry from Colombo and surrounding villages is a great treat.

spicy chicken curry

Back story of the authentic spicy chicken curry

Imagine a village wedding in rural Sri Lanka, bride dressed in traditional tied saree. Hair tied back neatly and decorated with flowers and jewelry. She is beaming in full ensemble of heavy traditional Sri Lankan bridal attire. Exceptional bridalwear, phenomenal food and happy times, go together in Sri Lankan wedding festivities. Weddings and authentic spicy food go hand in hand and are a must have on such an occasion. Just like the bride, traditional Sri Lankan wedding menu is extraordinary heavy affair with at least fifteen droolworthy traditional sides and rice and several options for desserts after. When it comes to food It is an all you can eat buffet with foods matching every taste and level. Hospitality and eating bellyful are at the heart of Sri Lankan culture and wedding feist just captures every element of that heritage. This authentic spicy chicken curry is one of the star-dishes the chefs prepare carefully for such a feist.

village style chicken curry
Spicy chicken curry village style made with guinea fowl

Most of the fond memories from weddings and festivities I have been to are those sounds of clanging pots and pans, sound of crackling wood fire, inviting aroma of the curries, ladies chitchatting and of course how gorgeous the bridal jewelry and saree in the middle of all that buzz. The rustic spicy chicken curry on the dinner table reminds me of that proud bride. It’s no surprise this village wedding style spicy chicken curry gets a lot of love and attention from the chef.

The spicy chicken curry recipe has its influence from southern India, but it has changed a lot over the time and absorbed into Sri Lankan culture. The curry mix used is different from family to family, however it does follow a similar flavor pattern. The finished spicy chicken curry sauce is dark cinnamon brown with reddish undertones, from all the chillies. Steaming spicy pieces of fresh firm chicken are a must have with ghee rice, to enjoy the full body of spicy and umami flavors.

The curry mix I am writing about here is specific to my family. It has come down from my grandmother to my mother and now me. Like my grandmother and mother our own twist has been added to the recipe. Spicy chicken curry-mix once made can stay in the freezer for three months, and can be used to cook chicken, or fowl or rabbit meat.

Tips of prepping and cooking spicy chicken curry

What cut of chicken meat is best and how to prep your whole chicken for a curry

 I always like to use fresh whole chicken from the farm or butcher to make this chicken curry whenever, I can. Final curry comes out so much better with fresh chicken than previously frozen fryer chicken from grocery store. I find fryer chicken has little too much fat for my liking, if I use them in curry. However, you could absolutely use them with skin removed and extra fat trimmed off. Also, you could separate and scoop the rendered fat after finishing the curry. When using fryer chicken fryer chicken skip the step of adding coconut milk because you would be just adding extra fat to the curry. A dollop of Greek yogurt might be a better choice if you have too much fat from the chicken in the curry sauce.

If you are making spicy chicken curry from chicken pieces, this curry recipe is an excellent choice for drumsticks, bone in thighs or mix of wings and drumsticks.

Clean the whole chicken by removing the skin, trimming extra fat, and rinsing under cold running water. Pat dry and cut into small pieces. The cut is Ideally an 18 to 22 pieces depending on the weight of the chicken. It is called a curry cut. Cutting whole chicken into smaller pieces like curry cut helps so much with getting the flavor of chicken curry spice mix into pieces in brief time. Also, it helps in extracting maximum flavor from bones in to curry without having to cook the curry for prolonged time.

Flavors and curry mix for the spicy chicken curry

The second most important thing before we make this spicy chicken curry is let chicken meat sit in marinate, preferably overnight.

Now we are ready to make spicy chicken curry village style

Printable spicy chicken curry village style

spicy chicken curry

Sri Lankan spicy chicken curry

This Sri Lankan spicy chicken curry that will make you intoxicated with aroma, flavor, and happy burn
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Servings 10


  • Whole fresh fowl cut into curry cut. About 4 pounds of skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 tablespoons of red curry powder
  • 5 dry whole Kashmiri chili peppers
  • 1 tablespoon of black curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon of red cayenne pepper powder optional for more spicy taste
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of black pepper
  • one medium red onion.
  • 10 of curry leaves
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2- inch piece of ginger
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 4 pieces of pandan leaves
  • 3- inch stick of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
  • 3 green chilies
  • 1 Cup of water
  • Coconut oil
  • 2 Teaspoons of yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons of tamarind water
  • 2 teaspoons of dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of spiced rum
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of coconut cream


  • Mix the powdered ground curry spices together in a bowl. Mix tamarind water, soya sauce, mustard, toddy vinegar in a separate bowl. Set it aside.
  • Remove the skin, rinse, pat dry and cut the chicken into curry cut. Add powdered spices massage everything into chicken. Marinade for 30 minutes to overnight.
  • Heat a pan and fry stick of cinnamon and fenugreek seeds. In the same pan, add onion, ginger garlic, green chili, curry leaves, pandan leaves and lemongrass. Fry for couple of minutes until onions sweat down.
  • Turn the heat to high and working in batches fry the chicken pieces until brown and firm outside in the same pan.
  • After searing to lock the flavor, return all the chicken pieces back to the pan. and add liquid flavor mix and water. Throw in whole chilies. turn few times to mix everything.
  • Cook for 40 minutes or until meat is cooked through.
  • Add coconut milk and check for seasoning. Adjust according to your preference.
  • Enjoy this rustic Sri Lankan chicken curry with steamed white rice, Mallum and red lentil curry.
Keyword chicken curry recipe Sri Lanka, instant pot whole chicken, spicy chicken curry with coconut milk

Video demonstration of the curry recipe