Sri Lankan Chicken and Potato Curry

Chicken and potato curry in a bowl

It won’t come as any surprise to you all that I think Sri Lankan curries are the best the world has to offer, right?! Especially this Chicken and Potato Curry.

I mean apart from Sri Lanka being my motherland, the sheer amount of spice that goes lovingly into each and every dish, be it powdered, bruised, crushed, raw, roasted…..(I mean did you even know there were so many ways to use spices), makes it a joy to cook and to eat.

Quick summary of Lankan cuisine!

You may not know but there are two distinct groups of people that live in Sri Lanka, and their curries are different. The Tamils tend to use more fennel and coconut derivatives in their cooking, the Sinhalese more black pepper. Of course there are other differences, but to be honest, my cooking has evolved from seeing my parents as well as my mother’s sisters in the kitchen but also from seeing Sinhalese cooks in my relatives’ kitchens in Sri Lanka.

I have to say, my dad makes the best mutton curry and I have yet to get his exact recipe – his curry is legendary among those who know him!! It’s because he makes his own curry powder, so that’s one I need to bottle for sure 🙂

So my food is more of a mix of the two – and I think I have taken the best of both to create these recipes! After all, that’s what cooking is all about – interpreting food the way you want it to be!

On a Sri Lankan dining table, this dish would make up one of around 4 or 5 dishes. There are normally 2-3 vegetable dishes, a salad and some rice and pappadums. Nowadays I rarely have time to make this much, although many of my relatives still do! I often have it with a cucumber and tomato salad, pineapple curry and some plain rice.

If you want to find other awesome Sri Lankan recipes, check out this cookbook by husband and wife team Prakash Sivanathan and Niranjala Ellawala. They are Tamil and Sinhalese respectively and their food reflects both cultures magnificently!

Ok back to this recipe then!

Chicken and potato curry with spinach leaves

Tips for my Sri Lankan Chicken and Potato Curry

Well, let’s see there are a lot of spices in this dish. They all do have significance – in fact I have left out others that perhaps are not as important, so as not to make the list too long.

If you can’t find Jaffna Curry powder, just use what you have – Jaffna curry powder has more of certain spices like fennel than other powders, so maybe add more fennel if this is the case.

Coconut milk sold in tins is especially good because there is cream and water in it. Don’t shake the tin because you want the two components. It’s great to have the cream to drizzle over the curry at the end – see pic!

If you can’t get tins of coconut milk then just use powdered coconut milk powder or creamed coconut – it’s not a big problem.

Tamarind has a sharp, tang to it – if you can’t get hold of it then use a squeeze of lime instead.

While we’re on the subjects of ingredients, if you fancy trying a different type of masala paste for other curries or for a marinade, then check out this recipe by Gail from Galley of Gail – incredible and oh so beautiful too!

Ok, I think we’re ready – so let’s get cooking!

Chicken and potato curry with a drizzle of coconut cream

Sri Lankan Chicken and Potato Curry

If you want a kicking chicken curry, then you've come to the right place!
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Servings 4


  • 8 skinless chicken thighs – bone in
  • 10-12 small potatoes, halved and parboiled
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 3 gloves garlic – grated
  • 1 thumb ginger – grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp roasted curry powder ideally Sri Lankan powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp black roasted curry powder
  • 3 tbsp coconut or rapseed oil
  • 2 cardamom pods – bruised
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick, cut in two
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 1-2 pandan leaf pieces about 3-4 inches
  • 1 red or green chilli – chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 120 ml water
  • 400 ml coconut milk (tinned) or powdered coconut milk or regular milk
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1-2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
  • ½ tsp tamarind paste or juice of half a lime (depending on acidity of tomatoes)


  • Trim any fat off the chicken thigh pieces and then marinate for 30-40 minutes with the turmeric, 1 tbsp curry powder, garam masala, salt and a little oil.
  • Meanwhile add the remaining oil to a large pan and add when hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. The seeds will spit as will the leaves. Once they have calmed down, add the pandan leaf, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and stir.
  • After 2 minutes add the onions, garlic, ginger, and chillies. Continue to stir until the onions start to soften and colour – around 5 minutes. Add more oil if needed.
  • Add the remaining curry powder, ground spices and cinnamon stick and keep stirring for a further minute.
  • Now add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and mix in well, followed by the marinated chicken pieces. Add half the coconut milk and cream and stir this all together for a minute or two.
  • Once mixed, pour in the water and the soy sauce and let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes
  • Add a little more coconut milk (reserving the coconut cream) and tip in the potatoes. Cover and leave for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and sprinkle in the black roasted curry powder and spinach leaves. Taste and add salt and a squeeze of lime if needed. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, drizzle the remaining coconut cream over the curry. Serve with plain rice or roti, and other curries.
    Chicken and potato curry, with some pineapple curry in the background.
Keyword Air fried chicken, Chicken Curry, Curry
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