Welcome to crazy tasty land. Indian hotel style Ceylon chicken curry. For when you feel the need for something that really slams your tastebuds with flavour.

Think Sri Lankan spices. Green chilies. Curry leaves. Coconut. A whole lot of South Indian goodness going on here.

This is restaurant style cooking. Not like your neighbourhood restaurant though. This is posh. High-end. What happens when Indian chefs go looking for a Michelin star.

OK – maybe not a Michelin star. That’s over the top. But I’m betting this is what goes on in serious Indian restaurant kitchens. The ones people line up for. And what goes on in the fanciest restaurants in India.

Close up of Ceylon chicken curry from above.

Indian hotel might not be a style you know

This is a little different. Don’t jump into this recipe assuming you can just use your regular Indian restaurant curry base.

This is not one of those recipes. And for the record. I still love my regular curry base. But I’m really impressed with the results I’m getting with hotel style. With this sledgehammer curry gravy.

This is a new approach. A whole different take on how to cook Indian restaurant style.

Don’t write me off. Don’t run back to what you know. What you believe. Indian hotel curry gravy is a bit of a game changer.

It’s not a lot of boiled onions. It’s a lot of deeply browned onions. And that gets you somewhere completely different. A whole new depth of flavour.

This style is more work up front. But it’s easier to make at dinner time. And it’s way less messy. Some of the techniques are the same. It’s about identical until you get to the curry gravy.

Then it changes completely. You don’t need to add it in batches. It all goes in at once. And you don’t need to fry it hard. It’s already got the Maillard reaction magic built in.

I’d say it’s actually easier. Safer. You are going to get it right the first time. And then every time.

Bottom line. Do this and you will make a delicious Ceylon chicken curry. Seriously tasty.

Table scene - Ceylon chicken curry, dal with tomato and green chili and chapatis from above.

No need to pre-cook chicken when cooking Indian hotel style

This is my favourite thing about cooking Ceylon chicken curry hotel style. Any chicken curry really done hotel style. You don’t need to pre-cook the chicken. That’s incredible.

I’m not saying that because pre-cooking chicken is extra work. Look around. Glebekitchen is not about cutting corners. It’s about doing what it takes. Always.

I’m talking about not dumping great chicken flavour down the drain. Because that’s what happens when you pre-cook chicken. All those juices are lost. I have always had a big problem with that.

Not any more. The chicken poaches in the curry. The way it was meant to be. All those delicious juices in the sauce.

And in my mouth. Where they belong. Balance in the universe has been restored. I can sleep at night again.

Ceylon chicken in a Indian style hammered copper bowl from the front.

Ceylon chicken curry Indian hotel style

This is my inaugural hotel style recipe here at glebekitchen. The very first one. So I had to go for broke. I wanted wow. Serious wow.

So I’m going with Ceylon chicken curry. I’ve been meaning to make something like this for a long time. And I’m really glad I waited.

Because hotel style drives it completely over the top. It’s different. But if you like South Indian this one is for you.

One thing is certain. This is the first of many.

Ceylon chicken curry, dal , chapatis and cutlery table scene from the front.
Print Pin
5 from 10 votes

ceylon chicken curry

Ceylon chicken is about all the wonderful tastes of South Indian and Sri Lankan cooking. Coconut milk, curry leaves and lots of spice!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword ceylon chicken curry, Indian restaurant style
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 639kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


The spice mix

  • 2 tsp Sri Lankan roasted curry powder – Madras curry powder isn't the same but it will do in a pinch.
  • 1 1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 /2 tsp kasoor methi
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt – a bit less if you use regular table salt

Ceylon chicken curry

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil – any neutral oil works
  • 1 2" piece cinnamon bark – also called cassia bark
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 10 curry leaves – no you don't have to count them. Around 10 is fine.
  • 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste
  • 2 green chilies – jwala type finger hot green chilies cut in half lengthwise, seeded and into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup Indian hotel curry gravy – recipe link below
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs – cut into 3-4 pieces each
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste Pure tamarind paste – not tamarind sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar or jaggery (optional)


Do your prep

  • This goes fast. Be ready. Make your spice mix. Get your ingredients out and close to the stove.

Make the Ceylon chicken curry

  • Heat the oil in a medium frying pan until it just starts to shimmer.
  • Add the green cardamom, cassia bark and curry leaves. Cook about 30 seconds. You want to see little bubbles forming around your whole spices. It you don't get them right from the start heat your oil a little more next time. What you don't want to do is panic and crank the heat. You will just wind up burning things in the next step.
  • Stir in the garlic ginger paste and green chilies. Cook until the garlic ginger paste stops sputtering.
  • Turn your heat to medium low and add your spice mix. This is why you added a full 3 tablespoons of oil at the beginning. You want your spices to fry in the oil. Too little oil and the spices will stick or burn and you will be starting over.
  • Gently fry the spices in the oil, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. This is where magic happens. Volatile compounds in the spices will be released into the oil. And that is big flavour.
  • Turn the heat up to medium. Add the Indian hotel curry gravy. Bring to a simmer. Really stir it to get the oil to combine and cook for about a minute. You don't need it to fry hard like a regular restaurant curry. That's the beauty of hotel style. You already have that done. No need to make a mess of your stove.
  • Add the chicken in an even layer and cover the pan. After about 5 minutes flip the chicken pieces. Tongs are good for this. Can't beat a good set of restaurant tongs in the kitche. Cook until the chicken is just done.
  • The chicken should take around 8-12 minutes to cook through. It really depends on how large the chicken thigh pieces are. Best bet is to use an instant read thermometer and go for 170F.
  • Once the chicken is done, stir in the coconut milk and tamarind paste. Simmer for one minute.
  • The texture should be about right at this point. If it's too thick add a bit of water or chicken stock Not a lot. Probably a couple tablespoons max.
  • If it is too thin (chicken throws a fair bit of liquid as it cooks) just let the curry simmer uncovered for a minute or two.
  • Taste and decide if you fall in the slightly sweet camp. If you do add the sugar and stir. It will open up the flavours a bit. I like it.
  • Serve with rice or Indian flatbread. Or both!


Make your Indian hotel curry gravy ahead of time. 
I use this Indian restaurant spice mix in all my Indian restaurant style curries.
For maximum flavour you really should make your garlic ginger paste from scratch.
You may notice there’s no tomato paste or passata in this recipe. The tomato comes from the hotel curry gravy. It’s there already.


Calories: 639kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 161mg | Sodium: 1415mg | Potassium: 856mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 893IU | Vitamin C: 122mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 4mg

33 thoughts on “ceylon chicken curry – Indian hotel style

  1. Wow, Romain! I will be making this in the next day or two to be sure. This recipe looks superb and thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of deliciousness. I’ll leave another comment to let you know how it turns out. Sometimes you just know by reading a recipe that it will become a favourite, as I’m sure this one will be! Again, many thanks!

    • My pleasure. I’m super excited by this new approach. I’m going to be posting a bunch of recipes as quick as I can get them out!

  2. I know what I’m doing this evening 🙂
    Can’t get any sri Lankan curry powder at short notice (even the local international food store doesn’t have any) so will have to try and make some up from an internet recipe

  3. Wow! That was delicious – Rich, sweet and sour, nice heat. Will be doing that again very soon (maybe slightly fewer, or smaller fresh curry leaves for me). Loving the new ‘base’ source Romain, looking forward to more recipes

    • The new recipes will be coming just as fast as I can crank them out. I’m super excited about this new approach. Really happy to hear you are enjoying it too!

  4. OMG!!!! We’ve just devoured this delicious curry, the flavours were mmmmm gorgeous.
    Another fantastic hit from Romain well done sir.

    All 3 of us agreed that it was fab. Now what’s next, can’t wait??

    • That’s exactly how I reacted. This hotel style gravy is a whole different beast.

      I have a few on the go. I will be publishing them as fast as I can.

  5. Dear Romain
    Well..where do I begin? I’ve just finished cleaning up (as in scraping every visible bit of sauce from plates & pans like a woman possessed) after cooking your ceylon chicken curry. I could make this a long gushy comment on how great it is but I’ll just be brief and say that, my goodness, it was truly divine!

    Please know how much I (and I’m sure everyone else here) appreciates what you do. There are gazillions of happy taste buds out there! So thank you! x

    • That is awesome to hear. I’m so glad you liked it. I am really excited by this new approach to restaurant (hotel) curry.

  6. Made the curry gravy and used it with chicken,potato and carrot combination…would love for you to post curry gravy recipes…I first thought it was the same as the curry base, but now see that most of your recipes call for the base rather than the gravy!

    • You are catching me early in this new approach I’m afraid. The recipe base here has been built up over years. That’s why you see so many recipes using the more traditional curry base.

      The whole hotel style concept is only a month old on glebekitchen. I’ve published 3 new hotel style recipes in the last three weeks (ceylon, green chili and naga tikka chicken) and I am working on more as fast as I can. They are coming. I promise! I know it’s no fun waiting…

      You can freeze the curry gravy in one cup portions and thaw them out as new recipes are published. It won’t be long. I am absolutely committed to (and super excited about) this series.

  7. I made your hotel style Ceylon chicken and my word it really was something else, I didn’t know about the Sri Lankan curry powder before and my, what a taste difference, I believe this dish was more widely on restaurant menus back in the 70s, I am so happy that you have published this recipe. I live in a prodomately Asian community and love Asian cooking anyway and my curry’s are always really nice but since coming across your recipes Romaine, you have took my skill to another level and I take my hat off to you, you know your onions(excuse the pun) and no going back now..Keep the recipes coming, I am loving it

  8. Hi. Can’t wait to make this next week! It might be me being a bit dense (no change there then .. ?), but not sure on spice mix quantities. So, is it one half or one AND a half tsp of chili powder? Also is it half a tsp of methi? Sorry for complicating matters- I just want to get it spot on. Thanks!

    • If I say 1 1/2 it is 1 1/2 (as in 3 halves). It is half tsp of methi.

      Sorry to take so long to get back to you. I am having huge connectivity problems at the moment…

      • Thanks for clarifying that. So sweet to apologise but tbh, and I think I speak on behalf of everyone posting on here, I am more than impressed (and a little bit humbled!) by the speed of your replies and think that it’s really lovely that you take the time to reply to every single question and person ? Just waiting for my Sri Lankan curry powder now. Yum!

  9. Every time I try one of your recipes it becomes my new favorite. Ceylon Chicken was amazing with its layers of flavor. The hotel style curry was so good that I could have just eaten it in a bowl. Can’t wait to try the other 2 recipes using this hotel style curry. I’m sure each will become my new favorite!

  10. So I just tried this recipe. First one for yours I ever did. Also happened to be the best curry I ever cooked. I cook indian farily often. Mostly home style, though. This was on another level. The only thing I would change is add a little more salt (which I know is very individual), but that was easy to do at the end, before plating.

    Will be trying out the rest, and waiting impatiently for more recipes! Would love a mehti ghost, or rogan josh!

  11. Your recipes (which are amazing btw) generally serve two people. I need to make bigger servings so can I just double the ingredients to serve 4 for example?
    Can you also do a prawn curry? (Sorry if you already have and I’ve not seen it ?)
    Thank you

    • Thank you for saying! The recipes labelled hotel style double well – both from a recipe and technique perspective.

      The ones labelled Indian restaurant are a bit trickier. You need a big enough pan to really fry the curry base hard in restaurant style. I usually just make the same recipe twice when cooking restaurant style but if you are feeling up to the challenge you can double pretty safely. Just make sure you don’t skimp on the oil. More spice means more oil so the spices have enough oil to bloom in properly.

      There are some that say just doubling results in the curry being over-spiced but I find, as long as you bloom the spices properly, it isn’t a problem.

      I don’t have a prawn curry posted but it has been on the list for too long so I will move it up…

  12. Just tried the Ceylon Chicken Curry, Man the flavours were awesome and really savaged my taste buds, I made the Hotel Curry gravy way ahead of needing it as well as the Garlic & Ginger paste, it makes sooo much difference time wise. Thanks Romain for a great recipe, keep em coming!!

    • The hotel curry gravy really makes for delicious curries. I will most certainly keep them coming as I am probably more excited than anyone about it!

  13. I’ve made about 8 of your Indian recipes, and this is definitely the best one. I was able to get a nice roasted Sri Lankan curry powder. I think that’s what makes this dish so great. And the cinnamon.

    • Nice to hear you’re finding lots to cook at Glebe Kitchen. This one is high on my list as well. The hotel style curries in general I am really enjoying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.