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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

The Sri Lankan Roasted Curry Powder is one of my favorites out of all our curries. This hand-ground blend is a mix of fire-roasted coriander, cumin, fennel, cinnamon, fenugreek, black pepper, black mustard, cardamom, cloves, pandanus, curry leaves, and rice. It packs a ton of flavor but with only a mild amount of heat - it's definitely more "warming" than "spicy." The roasted curry powder is recommended for meats and seafood, but I could see it going wonderfully with roasted vegetables (especially squash or sweet potatoes) as well.

Sri Lankan Roasted Curry Powder

I added the curry powder to pieces of browned chicken legs and made a rich, creamy sauce with the addition of coconut milk. Served over rice and roasted broccoli, it's a super easy, warming meal that is especially welcome on snowy days.

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

3 tablespoons oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
5 or so teaspoons Roasted Sri Lankan Curry Powder, divided
4 chicken legs (with the bones, please!)
1 cup coconut milk 
2 small tomatoes, diced, or 2 canned tomatoes with a bit of their juice (freeze the rest for a later use)

In a large sauté pan with a lid, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until softened and just beginning to brown on the edges. Stir in the salt and 1 teaspoon of the curry powder and cook for a few minutes, taking care not to burn the curry powder. Remove the onions to a plate and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil, then pat the chicken legs dry and arrange them in a single, not crowded layer in the pot. (Do it in batches if your pan is too small). Cook the legs, turning every 4 minutes or so, until nicely browned on each side, about 10 minutes total.

Put the onions back in the pan, then add 2 more teaspoons of the curry powder, the coconut milk, tomatoes, and about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water to thin the coconut milk out a bit. The sauce should come about half way up the sides of the chicken legs.

Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Flip the legs over, give everything a good stir, then only loosely cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes more. Check to see if the chicken is done how you like it (juices running clear, meat mostly white, or an internal temperature of 165 to 185 degrees, depending on how scared of undercooked chicken you are).  If not, partially cover the pan and keep on cooking. (Mine took about 40 minutes). Taste the sauce and, if you like, stir in another 1/2 teaspoon or so of curry powder to refresh the flavor, then add more salt to taste.

Remove from heat and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before eating. Serve with rice and something green (roasted broccoli is nice).

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Note: You can improve the flavor if you rub the chicken with a little oil, salt, and curry powder and let it marinate overnight. But, if you occasionally lack the skills to plan ahead, don’t worry about it. It’s still delicious.

This post is part of our series on curry. For others in the series check out:
A History of Curry
Around the World of Curries
Vadouvan-Braised Potatoes and Chickpeas
Curry & Chocolate
Sri Lankan Chicken Curry


Kara Elder grew up playing in the kitchen cupboards and reading cookbooks for fun while watching her mom cook tasty Mexican meals. After graduating with a degree in Russian, she found herself increasingly interested in reading food blogs and planning menus. Kara is a Bazaar Spices Team Member and works for Joan Nathan, a DC-based cookbook author and food writer. She also writes for the Jewish Food Experience

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