Chicken Ceylon is a dish from Sir Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon. It’s a family of curries with coconut milk and a special toasted brown curry spice mix that tends to be slightly different depending on your family. The family blend may include seeds from coriander, cumin, cardamom, clove, fennel, black mustard, and fenugreek as well as turmeric, black peppercorns, cinnamon, and curry leaves. Each spice should be toasted separately before grinding and blending because each spice has a different heat point. You can also find Sri Lankan curry powder at well-stocked Asian grocery stores.
I sometimes use garam masala as a base and add a few other spices. Last year I came across a treasure trove of some particularly good masala from a spice shop in Norfolk (that has unfortunately closed it’s doors), and the exquisite aroma of this mix is intoxicating. It adds a wonderful richness to the gravy for this recipe that I stumbled across a couple years ago. The first time I made it Michael proclaimed this to be an excellent curry that I could make anytime. I usually make some naan bread to go along with it.
Chicken Ceylon with Masala Gravy
- 3 to 4-quart sauce pan
- large skillet, with lid
- immersion blender (or food processor)
- 1 pound chicken breast (cubed)
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 finely chopped cayenne chilis
- 4 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger (grated)
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons cilantro leaves (roughly chopped)
- 1/2 coconut (grated (approximately 1-2 cups))
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 onion (sliced)
- 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 28 ounces whole canned tomatoes (quartered)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
- seeds of 4 green cardamom pods
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 pinch sea salt
- In the sauce pan, saute the onion, tomatoes, and garlic in the oil over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent and the tomatoes are beginning to go mushy, about 10 minutes.
- Add half the water and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the water and spices and stir. Simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring.
- Turn off the heat and remove the pan. Cool slightly and puree with the immersion blender.
- Make a spicy paste by mixing the curry powder and chili powder with a little water. Set aside.
- In the skillet, saute the onion in the vegetable oil until translucent, then add the garlic, ginger, and chilis and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the curry and chili powder paste and stir in, cooking for about 30 seconds.
- Add the chicken pieces and stir until the chicken is sealed well on all sides.
- Add half the masala gravy, coconut, and coconut milk and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining masala gravy at the end.
- Add the finely chopped cilantro leaves and cook for one more minute.
- Serve with whole cilantro leaves sprinkled on top and naan.