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Simple Chicken Curry Recipe

An easy Sri Lankan curry made with plenty of coconut milk and whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.
Simple Chicken Curry Recipe
Photo by Daisy Meager

Servings: 2
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes


for the curry:
4 tablespoons|60 ml vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1-inch knob ginger, coarsely grated with skin on
1 tablespoon roasted curry powder (or cook normal curry powder for a few minutes in a dry saucepan)
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 chicken thighs, diced into 1-inch pieces
1 small sweet potato, diced
3 heaping tablespoons coconut milk powder
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
various vegetables i.e. peas, handful of spinach or kale, cooked green beans, cauliflower florets (basically, whatever you like or have on hand in your fridge)
1 tablespoon of tamarind pulp soaked in 3 tablespoons hot water

to serve:
steamed basmati rice
fresh cilantro


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add the onion and leave for a minute before stirring. Stir only occasionally; you want the color of the onions to be a dark brown.
  2. After 5 minutes, when the onions are golden brown, add the mustard seeds, garlic, and ginger. Add a tablespoon of oil at this point if you need to, garlic and ginger are particularly prone to catching.
  3. Cook, stirring more frequently, until the onions are dark brown. Stir in the curry powder, tomato paste, chicken, and potatoes along with 1 to 2 cups water to come up about halfway. Stir in the coconut powder, mixing well to combine. Don't worry about any lumps, they will disappear. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Uncover and season with salt and pepper. It's at this stage you turn the heat up and can add the vegetables. I usually add some frozen peas, and a handful of spinach right at the end. If you add cauliflower or broccoli florets, give them at least five minutes to cook. Cooked green beans are good too, although if you cook them in the curry they won't go a vibrant green so cook them separately and add at the end if that matters to you. At the end, add just half a lime or two tablespoons of tamarind water (not so that you make the curry sour but so that the flavors become more vibrant). Serve with rice and garnish with the cilantro.

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