Biryani Chicken Korma Curry

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

By Bree Hutchins

Published 2013

  • About

This is a mild, aromatic tomato-based chicken and potato curry. It is mixed with rice to form the bottom layer of the biryani. This curry is also delicious on its own with fragrant samba rice.


  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) all-purpose potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1.6 kg (3 lb 8 oz) whole chicken
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 red onions*, sliced
  • 10 cm (4 inch) piece rampe (pandanus) leaf*, cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) pieces
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves, leaves picked
  • 6 cm ( inch) piece lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 3 cloves garlic, ground into a paste
  • 4 cm ( inch) piece ginger, ground into a paste
  • 8 roma tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 2 teaspoons salt, dissolved in 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) warm water
  • 1 small chicken stock cube, dissolved in 375 ml (13 fl oz/ cups) boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons korma spice mix (store-bought)
  • 1 tablespoon roasted chilli powder*
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) soy sauce
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) tomato purée


Boil the whole potatoes in a large saucepan until tender, then drain. When cool, peel and cut into 3-4 cm (1¼-1½ inch) pieces.

Place the chicken on a chopping board. Using a large knife or poultry scissors, joint the chicken into 8 pieces. Then, using a cleaver or large, heavy kitchen knife, cut the chicken through the bone into 4–5 cm (11/2–2 inch) pieces. Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, then add the onions, rampe, curry leaves, lemongrass, cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom pods; cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown. Add the garlic paste and ginger paste and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salty water and stock, cover and bring to the boil.

Add the chicken pieces, korma spice mix, chilli powder, pepper and cumin and mix to combine. Stir in the soy sauce and tomato purée. The chicken pieces should be almost covered in liquid — if needed, add a little water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened and reduced slightly. Stir in the boiled potato. Set aside until the rice for the biryani is ready.