Life’s a Feast: Sri Lankan chicken curry


My father Simon Stamers-Smith spent his early years growing up in Sri Lanka. As a result, he fell in love with the flavours of the East and has become one of the most wonderful curry cooks I have ever met! Sri Lanka boasts a rich melting pot of cuisines, predominantly due to the variety of cultures and nationalities trading and visiting over the centuries. This wonderful, exotic country makes use of its abundant local fruits, seafoods and protein. Add to this the arsenal of spices at hand – the reason it is known as the Spice Island. Turmeric and coconut are distinctive in Sri Lankan cuisine and feature in this recipe. With its heady aromas and mouth-watering flavours, this very simple curry is a must-try. Enjoy!



6-8 chicken free range legs (I took the skin off but you can leave on if you choose)
2 medium onions, grated
2 heaped tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
1 cinnamon quill
3 cardamom pods
1 large chilli, finely-chopped
1 good handful curry leaves (Pakn’Save and New World sell these)
250ml chicken stock
400ml coconut cream


  1. Combine onion, garlic and ginger in a large bowl and coat the chicken with it. Let this marinate for about 15 mins.
  2. Take a large pan and heat to a medium-high heat. Shake excess onion mix off the chicken and fry it in two batches with 2 tablespoons of oil, until golden brown.
  3. Remove chicken and add a little more oil to the pan. Add the rest of your onion mix and all the spices and half the curry leaves. Cook for 3-4 minutes until fragrant and the onions softened.
  4. Pour in stock and coconut cream and thoroughly mix. Add back in the chicken and coat in sauce. Simmer with a lid on for 30 mins. Turn the chicken halfway through if the sauce doesn’t completely cover it.
  5. Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a small pan with some vege oil and heat to a high heat. Add the rest of the curry leaves. Fry for about 1 min, until crispy, then take out and drain on a paper towel.
  6. Once chicken is ready, pour into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with the fried curry leaves and serve immediately with steamed rice and roti, if you choose.