King’s chicken curry

King’s chicken curry

My Feast
Chris Chen

This dish was invented for Kasyapa, the King of Sigiriya rock fortress in Sri Lanka. According to legend, Kasyapa was very demanding and his chefs had to invent new curries daily.


Quantity Ingredient
1 large wild fowl or chicken
100g brown onions, thinly sliced
pandan leaf, roughly torn
curry leaves, leaves picked
2 long red chillies, chopped
4 small green chillies, chopped
2 teaspoons ground brown mustard seeds
10 black peppercorns
salt, to taste
3cm turmeric, peeled
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
90ml vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
10cm sandalwood, (see note)
6 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods, cracked
1/2 teaspoon dark roasted curry powder
1 tablespoon red chilli powder
80ml malt vinegar
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, toasted
500ml water, or enough to cover
500ml coconut cream
2 limes, juiced
10 dried red chillies, quickly fried until crisp, to garnish


  1. Cut the chicken into six pieces. Place in a large bowl with the onion, garlic, pandan leaf, curry leaves, and red and green chilli, and and toss to coat the chicken. Add the ground mustard seeds and peppercorns and season with salt. Massage the mixture into the chicken and marinate for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, using a mortar and pestle, crush the turmeric with the mustard seeds to form a paste. Set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the spice marinade, reserving the marinade. Once the oil is hot, place the chicken, skin side down, in the pan and cook until the skin is crisp. Turn the chicken over and cook the other side. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 50 ml of the oil in another large saucepan over medium heat, add the reserved spice marinade and the sandalwood and fry until fragrant. Add the cloves and cardamom and fry for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the turmeric paste, curry powder and chilli powder and season with salt and pepper. Add the vinegar and scrape the base of the pan with a wooden spatula to remove any stuck-on spices.
  6. Add the chicken, lemongrass, cinnamon, fenugreek and enough water to just cover the chicken and gently simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through, topping up the water as necessary to ensure the water level doesn’t drop too much.
  7. Once cooked, add the coconut cream and bring to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.
  8. To serve, remove the chicken from the pan and pile high on a plate. Garnish with the fried dried red chillies.


  • Fresh sandalwood is very expensive and difficult to find. If you want an authentic flavour, I suggest you substitute with a few drops of pure sandalwood oil added with the water. It will produce a similar result.
My Sri Lanka
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