Skip to Content

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry with Black Pepper

Sharing is caring!


Authentic Sri Lankan Black Pepper Chicken Curry.

Authentic Sri Lankan Chicken Curry with lots of black pepper.


Are you ready to try the best and most popular Sri Lankan chicken curry ever? This Sri Lankan chicken curry recipe will get you the results you’re looking for!

How I got to know this incredible Sri Lankan chicken curry.

I enjoyed so many amazing meals while in Sri Lanka staying at Cinnamon Hotels. One of my favourite curries was a black pepper chicken curry that I had at The Cinnamon Grand at their restaurant Nuga Gama. What a place!

That was my first introduction to this Sri Lankan chicken curry that I enjoyed many more times all over Sri Lanka.

I was in Sri Lanka as an invited blogger guest of Cinnamon Hotels and got to learn this recipe from their head chef at Nuga Gama.

The chicken curry is usually made with small cuts of chicken on the bone.

I loved picking up these small bones and gnawing at the meat. The flavour was out of this world.

Presentation and flavour tips.

All of the curries at Nuga Gama were cooked and presented in clay pots. I was determined to do that same.

It’s not easy carrying a big clay pot back in your hand luggage but as you can see I got it back! You could of course use a normal saucepan for this authentic Sri Lankan curry but cooking it in a clay pot is great for presentation and flavour.

When it comes to the black pepper, please use this recipe as a guide! I like a lot of black pepper in this curry and usually use more than suggested. That is completely down to you and your taste.

When making a curry like this, it’s important to taste as you go.

Some of the spectacular curries at Nuga Gama. Cooked in clay pots over fire.

Some of the spectacular curries at Nuga Gama. Cooked in clay pots over fire.


Making black chicken curry

Melt the ghee over medium high heat.


Making black chicken curry

Add the cinnamon, cardamom pods, cloves, curry leaves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and bay leaves.


Making black chicken curry

When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the finely chopped onions.


Making black chicken curry

When the onions begin to brown, add the chillies, ground pepper and other spices.


Making black pepper chicken curry

In goes the garlic and ginger paste along with the soy sauce.


Making black chicken curry

Stir the chicken into the sauce.


Making Sri Lankan black pepper chicken curry

Stir in the sweet green peppers and sliced onions.


Making Sri Lankan Black Pepper chicken curry

Stir in the chopped tomatoes.


Making Sri Lankan Black Pepper Chicken Curry

Cover and cook over medium heat for about ten minutes.


Making chicken curry

Water will be released from the meat and vegetables.


Making Sri Lankan Black Pepper Chicken Curry

Add the coconut milk and simmer until you are happy. Dry or saucy, it’s up to you.

If you like the look of this chicken curry, try some of these Sri Lankan recipes too.

Yield: 4 - 6

Sri Lankan Black Pepper Chicken Curry

Sri Lankan Black Pepper Chicken Curry
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 kilo ( 2lbs.) chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 20 curry leaves (or so)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 onions - finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 onion - thinly sliced
  • 2 sweet green peppers
  • 3 green chilli peppers (whichever you prefer)
  • 20 cherry tomatoes - quartered
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1- 2 tablespoons finely ground black pepper (This should be to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 400ml ( 1 1/2 cups) coconut milk
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat the ghee in a large wok or pan until bubbling hot.
  2. Add the cinnamon, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, bay leaves and curry leaves.
  3. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the chopped onions and stir it all up.
  4. Fry the onions until they begin to brown and then add the green chillies, black pepper and other ground spices.
  5. Spoon in the garlic and ginger paste and soy sauce. Stir to combine.
  6. Stir in the chicken pieces and brown them for about five minutes.
  7. Add the sliced green peppers, tomatoes and sliced onions and cover the pot.
  8. Cook for five to ten minutes. As you do this the chicken and vegetables will release moisture. A pinch of salt will help in this process.
  9. To finish, pour in the coconut milk and simmer until you are happy. You can either serve this with a lot of sauce or reduce it down.
  10. Season with salt and perhaps a little more black pepper to taste.

Did you like this recipe?

Please join me on Facebook where I share all my latest recipes and videos. Just click that Facebook icon on the left and let's get to know each other!

 I hope you enjoy this Sri Lankan chicken curry as much as my family and I do. If you do give it a try, please don’t be a stranger. Leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear from you. 


Mike Nellist

Saturday 14th of January 2023

Hi Dan, this curry is next on my list. If I was to make this as a 1/2 person curry would I 1/2 all ingredients including spices/sauce etc or just the chicken & veg? Also does it freeze ok?

Dan Toombs

Sunday 15th of January 2023

Hi Mike Yes, just half it but maybe reduce more than half the hot spices and add any more to taste. Dan


Saturday 10th of September 2022

Hey Dan I’m gonna give your recipe a shot,it looks lovely I was wondering could I swap the ghee for veg oil and would lite coconut milk be okay. Many thanks Dave

Dan Toombs

Monday 12th of September 2022

Yes you could swop the ghee for vegetable oil, it will just lose a bit of the richness. Also no reason why you can't use lite coconut milk. Thanks Dan


Friday 19th of January 2018

Marrying into a Sri Lankan family meant I had to learn making their food and curry is a weekly staple. This is a nice change to our curry recipe at home. Made this for the weekend and it came out superb! The Sri Lankans love it too! 😊

Dan Toombs

Monday 22nd of January 2018

Hi Ciara

That's great to hear. Really glad you and family like the recipe. :-)



Saturday 9th of December 2017

Just made this for a second year for my Christmas party. As with last year iIve done enough by for 30 people. Great curry. Lovely flavours. Not too hot but a nice build from the black pepper.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 27th of February 2018

Great to hear Chris. Happy it was a success!

Cheers, Dan


Monday 4th of December 2017

Made this with quorn. Was very nice but it didn't look anywhere near as dark as yours. Plate licked clean, though :)

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 9th of January 2018

Great to hear Scott. I use Quorn from time to time too. Trying to eat a lot more veggie food these days.


Skip to Recipe

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!