This is how I make my quick an easy chicken curry on a week night. I may not be able to find all the original spices or herbs all the time, so I will mention the substitutes.
If you can find, please use the following in it’s most authentic form or use the substitutes; Curry leaves: Use fresh curry leaves when possible. If not use dried version but it is not the same. Pandan Leaves: Again fresh is the best. You can find curry leaves and Pandan leaves in most Asian markets and in some Indian grocery stores. Coconut milk: Back home we always used freshly squeezed coconut milk. But I have had great success with canned coconut milk. Find a good brand and stick to it!
Curry powder: Sri Lankan curry powder is slightly different. Use this if you can find it. Following are the brands I use at home. There is a raw and a roasted version. Roasted version is used in black curry.
Fenugreek seeds: Available online to purchase. They are mostly toasted, which is good. If they are raw, you can toast them lightly in a pan. Toasted seeds will last longer too and tastes way better. They are bitter when eaten on their own, but adds another dimension to curries
I know that we talked about a lot of alternatives and substitutes, but these will create something very very close to the actual authentic dish. And again, Sri Lankan curries are best when cooked in clay pots using wood fired stoves. This is why a trip to the paradise Island should be on your bucket list.
1 tsp tamarind paste (or 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar)
2 tbsp Sri Lankan curry powder (non roasted)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds ( about 5-6 seeds)
pinch of cumin seeds (optional)
1 – 2 tsp chili powder ( use 1 if you like mild)
2 Thai chili peppers
A stalk of curry leaves
2 inches of a Pandan leaf
2 shallots (or some onion is fine)
2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
Thaw the chicken if they are frozen. Cut in to small chunks/cubes
Use 1/2 tsp of salt, some black pepper and a bit of roasted curry powder to season the meat. Massage into the flesh and set aside for about half an hour (or refrigerate for 2-3 hours if that works)
Finely chop the shallots/onions and garlic
Slice the chili peppers and set aside (remove seeds to reduce heat) Splitting them in half, length wise, is sufficient
Place a medium saucepan/pan or a clay pot on medium heat and add oil
When oil starts to heat up, add fenugreek seeds, cumin followed by the onions, garlic, curry leaves, Pandan and chili peppers
Fry these string for about 30 seconds
Reduce heat and quickly add chili powder, curry powder, coriander powder and turmeric
Stir to fry these spices for about 20 seconds (do not let chili powder burn or it will start to smoke and will cause extreme discomfort if inhaled)
Add the chicken pieces and mix with the spices to coat each piece.
Add a bit of water about (2 tbsp.) stir and close the lid
Let this cook for about 2-3 minutes
Dissolve the tamarind paste in 1/4 cup of water and add it to the chicken and mix well. Simmer for a nother minute or two
Then add the coconut milk and stir. Bring the curry to a boil
Taste and adjust salt. Also you can balance the flavor by adding more spices to suite your palate. Add more turmeric for color
If you need more gravy, feel free to add more water or coconut milk depending on how thick or thin you like the gravy to be
Reduce the heat to minimum, close the lid and simmer/cook for about 30 minutes to 1 hour or until the chicken pieces are tender and cooked through
When serving, you can garnish with fresh Coriander or curry leaves
All these measurements are rough. When cooking a curry, it is important to taste and adjust spices to you liking as you go. Be careful when using chili powder and chili peppers, not all of them have the same heat in them. Use a little and increase gradually after tasting. You can experiment with other spices or herbs. I use Rosemary and Oregano when I can’t find Curry leaves. I used canned coconut milk for this recipe.