Sri Lankan chicken curry

Neil Perry
Sri Lankan chicken curry with onion sambal (top left).
Sri Lankan chicken curry with onion sambal (top left). Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Gluten-free

This is a delicious curry is a festival of flavour and once you gather the ingredients together it's really simple. Prawns or white-fleshed fish are good substitutes for the chicken. You can also add steamed potatoes or yams at the end and fold them through.

Ingredients

For the onion sambal

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbsp grated ginger

1 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed

3 curry leaves

2 tsp caster sugar

1 tbsp tamarind puree

2 tbsp coconut milk

2 tsp lime juice

For the spice mix

3 tsp black peppercorns

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp coriander seeds

2 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 stick cinnamon

2 tsp dill seeds

2 tsp ground turmeric

For the curry

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large brown onion, diced

2 tsp sea salt

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 small green chilli, halved lengthways

1 lemongrass stem, finely sliced

750g skinless chicken thigh fillets, each cut into 3 pieces

8 curry leaves

1 tbsp tamarind puree

3/4 cup coconut milk

1/3 cup coconut cream

1 tbsp lime juice

steamed rice to serve

Method

FOR THE SAMBAL, warm the oil in a heavy-based saucepan on a medium-low heat.

Add onions and salt and cook for about 10-15 minutes until softened.

Add garlic and ginger and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add chilli powder, cloves and cardamom and continue for another 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the onions are glossy.

FOR THE SPICE MIX, lightly toast spices in a dry pan over a medium heat until fragrant, then finely grind in a mortar.

FOR THE CURRY, warm oil in a heavy- based saucepan on a medium heat. Add onion and salt and cook for about 5 minutes until softened.

Add garlic and chilli and continue for a further 5 minutes before adding lemongrass and ground spices and cooking for another 5 minutes.

Add chicken, cooking for 2-3 minutes to coat in the spices. Add curry leaves, tamarind and coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes. Add coconut cream and bring to a simmer, being careful not to let the mixture boil.

Remove curry from the heat, cover and stand for 10 minutes.

Add lime juice to taste. Serve with the spicy sambal and steamed rice.