Cookbook Review: S is for Sri Lankan

Sri Lankan cuisine has many historical and cultural incluences. The effects of the Dutch colonialists who once ruled Sri Lanka and brought with them their own cuisines, foreign traders who introduced new food items and influences from Indonesian Southern India cuisine have all helped to shape Sri Lankan cooking.

S  is for Sri Lankan showcases 50 iconic recipes with a modern twist. The compact book includes recipes for coconut pancakes, buriani, fish kari, lotus root and cashews, kurakkan flatbreads, beetroot and pumpkin curry, date and tamarind chutney, and much more.

 is for Sri Lankan is available at and

Chicken Curry (kukul mas)

Photography by Kim Lightbody

Serves 4

Prep: 15 minutes

Marinate: 3 hours or overnight

Cooking time: 1 hour



700g (1lb 9oz) skinless chicken thighs, halved

2 Tbsp Sri Lankan curry powder

(recipe below)

2 tsp salt

25g (1oz/2 Tbsp) ghee or butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

5cm (2in) ginger, finely chopped

½ stick lemongrass, finely chopped

1 Tbsp white malt vinegar

200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) coconut milk

1 Tbsp tomato purée (paste)

juice of ½ lime

1 bunch coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped



Mix the chicken thighs with the curry powder and 1 tsp of the salt. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.



Heat the ghee in a large saucepan on a medium heat, then add the onion, chilli, garlic, ginger and lemongrass and stir-fry for 10–12 minutes until evenly golden brown and soft.



Add the marinated chicken and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes, then add 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) water, the remaining salt and the vinegar. Bring to a very low simmer, then cover and cook for a further 30 minutes.



Stir through the coconut milk and tomato purée and simmer, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and the lime juice as needed. Sprinkle with the coriander before serving.


Sri Lanken Curry Powder



1 Tbsp basmati rice

1 Tbsp cloves

1 Tbsp fennel seeds

1 Tbsp cumin seeds

8 cardamom pods, seeds only

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp mustard seeds

15 curry leaves

1 cinnamon stick, broken

3 dried red chillies



Place all the ingredients into a large heavy-based saucepan – they should fit in a single layer. Heat on a low heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until aromatic.



Tip the mixture onto a plate to cool, then place in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar in batches and grind to a fine powder.



Store in an airtight container for 2–3 months.


Recipe reprinted with permission from Quadrille Publishing.


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