Really simple Sri Lankan chicken curry with coconut milk & cashew nut rice

Lorraine Pascale's Sri Lankan Chicken CurryEnjoyed our webchat with Lorraine Pascale? Try your hand at her recipe for this super-tasty Sri Lankan chicken curry, with coconut milk and cashew nut rice from her latest book, Fresh Fast and Easy Food


Really simple Sri Lankan chicken curry with coconut milk & cashew nut rice

"I do love an Indian curry – in fact I love a curry of any description – but Sri Lankans also know how to make a good curried dish. Nestled to the southeast of southern India, just a stone's throw from the Maldives, lies a place very close to my heart, somewhere I visit often.

Formerly known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka really is a feast for the senses: bright colours, vibrant flavours, wonderful beaches and people. Much of my cooking is influenced by this beautiful island, and this is my favourite Sri Lankan chicken curry."




Time from start to finish: 20 minutes
Serves: 4
Equipment: Kettle, medium sauté pan, small bowl, medium pan with tight-fitting lid, scissors.
  • 100g cashew nuts (not roasted or salted)
  • 300g basmati rice
  • 2 tsp mild, medium or hot curry powder (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 100g frozen peas


  • 2 tbsp mild, medium or hot curry powder (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 2 tsp garam masala (easy to find in the supermarket)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1–3 tsp medium chilli powder (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Vegetable oil
  • 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 200ml water
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
  • Small handful of fresh coriander
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper



1. Put the kettle on to boil for the rice.

2.  While waiting, put a medium sauté pan on a high heat and throw in the cashew nuts (without any oil). Cook for 3–4 minutes, tossing from time to time, until golden. Tip into a small bowl and set aside. Leave the dry pan on a low heat for the curry.

3. Once the kettle has boiled, tip the rice, curry powder and a little salt into a medium pan and pour the boiled water over so it comes about 2cm above the top of the rice (this is approximately 500ml). Cover with the lid and return to the boil. Then reduce the heat to really low and cook for as long as it says on the packet. Set the timer for halfway through as you will be adding more ingredients then.

3. Now, for the curry. To the hot pan (without any oil), add the curry powder, garam masala, cinnamon, ginger and chilli powder and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until you start to really smell the spices, tossing regularly.

4. While they toast, snip the chicken into big bite-sized chunks with scissors and season them well with salt and pepper. Pour a good drizzle of oil into the spice pan and turn the heat up to high. Add the chicken and cook for 2–3 minutes, tossing the pieces from time to time so they brown all over.

5. By this stage the rice will be about halfway through cooking. Scatter the toasted cashew nuts and peas on top, without stirring them in, and put the lid back on for the remaining 5 minutes of cooking time.

6. Going back to the curry, remove the pan from the heat while you pour the coconut milk in along with the water. Return it to the heat, turn it up and let it bubble away for a few minutes.

7. Meanwhile, trim and finely chop the spring onions (both the green and the white bits) and peel and finely chop the garlic. Add them to the curry and leave to cook for 2–3 minutes, reducing the heat if bubbling too hard and giving it a stir from time to time.

8. Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat, season with salt and pepper and then put the lid back on to keep the rice warm.

9. Check that the chicken is cooked by piercing with a knife – there should be no pinkness remaining. Then have a taste of the curry, adjusting the seasoning and adding the sugar if liked. Divide the rice between four plates, top with the curry, tear the coriander leaves over and serve.



Excerpt from Lorraine Pascale's Fast, Fresh and Easy Food (Harper Collins, £20)

Last updated: almost 3 years ago