Kukal Mas Curry: Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

chicken curry 4

The aroma of chicken curry cooking away on the stove always evokes feelings of warmth and comfort for me. With plenty of rich and coconuttily creamy gravy, it’s the perfect comfort food.

Growing up, kukal mas, or chicken curry was the curry my mum made most frequently. It still is! She usually serves it with string hoppers, brinjal and pol sambol – I’m always disappointed if any element is missing!

Chicken curry was in fact the first curry I ever learnt to make on my own. My mum always followed Charmaine Solomon’s recipe for Kukal Mas curry and this recipe is essentially the same, with a few tweaks here and there.

Like my mum, I tend to make my chicken curry with boneless and skinless chicken thighs, and while they don’t pack as much flavour as chicken that’s cooked on the bone, they make a far more easier to eat curry. However, for a truly authentic chicken curry, I would recommend cooking with chicken that’s still on the bone. Sri Lankan rice and curry is traditionally eaten with your hands, so either way, you’re going to get messy!

As with most of my recipes, this quantity feeds a relatively large crowd but as I always say, it tastes even better the next day!

Serves: 8-10 (as part of a rice and curry meal)


2 kg chicken
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
Curry leaves
2 large onions, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground fennel
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp malt vinegar
1 pkt chopped tomatoes
6 cardamom seeds, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 stalk lemon grass, crushed
1 tin coconut milk


  1. In a saucepan, heat the oil with curry leaves and fenugreek seeds, until they start to brown.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and ginger. Fry until browned, occasionally stirring to ensure the contents of the saucepan don’t stick.
  3. Next, add the turmeric, chili powder, coriander, cumin, fennel, paprika, salt and vinegar. Stir well ensuring the onion mixture is evenly coated.
  4. Add the chicken and stir over a medium heat until chicken is thoroughly coated with spices.
  5. Add tomatoes and a splash of water.
  6. Finally, add the cinnamon, cardamom and lemon grass and stir.
  7. Cover and cook on low heat for ~40mins to 1hr
  8. Before serving, add the coconut milk and heat without cover.

2 thoughts on “Kukal Mas Curry: Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

  1. THE MOST POPULAR CHICKEN CURRY of all time, I would say. Oh well, I am very much biased as I am a Sri Lankan. This curry looks mouthwatering and I can imagine the gorgeous aroma of it just by looking at your picture.

    Thank you for the recipe.


    Rasakama Reply

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