Kukal Mas (Sri Lankan Chicken Curry)


1.5kgwhole chicken or chicken leg and thigh quarters
3 tablespoonsghee or oil
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds or ground fenugreek
10 curry leaves
2 large onions finely chopped
4-5garlic cloves finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh ginger finely grated
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoo nground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
2 tomatoes peeled and chopped
6 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick
1 stem lemongrass, bruised or 2 strips lemon zest
250ml thick coconut milk
lemon juice, to taste

Joint the chicken — cut breast and thighs in half, leaving the wings and drumsticks whole.Heat the ghee in a large heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Add the fenugreek seeds, if using, and curry leaves and cook until they start to brown. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until the onion is golden. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, coriander, cumin, fennel, paprika, salt and vinegar and stir well to combine.Add the chicken to the pan and stir until it is well coated in the spices. Add the tomato, whole spices and lemongrass, cover, and cook over low heat for 40–50 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Add the coconut milk, taste and add more salt and a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired. Do not cover after adding coconut milk. Serve with rice and accompaniments.


Paprika is used to give the required red colour — in Sri Lanka the colour is achieved by using about 30 dried red chillies!
The easiest way to peel a tomato is to first loosen the skin. This can be done by scoring a cross in the base of each tomato and blanching them briefly in a saucepan of boiling water. When cool, use your fingers to peel away the skins.

Ben Neale

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