Sir Lankan Fried Chicken with Coconut Gravy


The secret to the juiciest chicken you’ll ever taste is to brine (that’s not a posh way of saying ‘brown’ by the way!) Immersing the meat in a bath of herbs and spices, or rubbing it with a combo of salts, tenderises the flesh and also plumps it up. The results are sumptuously succulent. Finger lickin’ frickin’ fantastic.

And this here, right now, on the very page you’re looking at, is one of the tastiest fried chicken dishes you’ll ever, er, taste.

This Sri Lankan Fried Chicken recipe – with a coconut sauce – comes courtesy of this month’s BBC Good Food magazine and although it involves a little effort, the results pay the kind of dividends only corrupt bankers get to receive.




250ml/9fl oz coconut milk

1 garlic clove, crushed

pinch of ground ginger

2 cardamom pods, crushed

pinch of white pepper

500g skinless chicken breasts


1 litre sunflower or

rapeseed oil

75g chickpea flour (gram flour)

25g cornflour

100g quick-cook polenta

25g desiccated coconut

pinch each of smoked paprika and

cayenne pepper


1 onion, thinly sliced

1 small green chilli, halved


2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

½ tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp ground fenugreek seeds

1 tsp fish sauce

2 tsp cane or light brown sugar

400ml full-fat coconut milk

125g bag baby leaf spinach, chopped

juice 1 lime

1 To prepare the chicken, tip the coconut milk into a jug and stir in the garlic, spices and 1 tsp salt. Put the chicken in a plastic container or roasting tin and pour over the brine mix to cover. Cover with cling film and chill for 24 hrs.

3 To make the sauce, put all the ingredients (except the coconut milk, lime juice and spinach) in a heavy-based saucepan. Add 1 tbsp water and simmer over a low heat for 5 mins or until the onion softens. Pour in the coconut milk and cook for a further 1-2 mins (do not boil). Tip in the spinach, stir until wilted, then remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and add the lime juice.

5 To cook the chicken, heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or saucepan until it reaches 180C on a cooking thermometer.

To make the fried chicken coating, combine all the ingredients with ¼ tsp salt In a bowl. Piece by piece, remove the chicken from its brine, allow the excess to drip off, then dredge it in the coating. Shake off the excess and fry in the oil for 6-8 mins until cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper.


Serve the chicken with the coconut sauce.


Filed under Poultry, Recipe Shed

3 Responses to Sir Lankan Fried Chicken with Coconut Gravy

  1. Anthony

    Welcome back sir :)

    And unsurprisingly, your food looks as incredible and tempting as ever! Can’t wait to give this a go.

    Question – any thoughts on comparisons between your brine and a buttermilk one? I’ve found success with latter and sure yours is equally effective, just wondering what your take on it was.

    • keithkendrick

      Hey Anthony, thanks for the compliment. Very inspiring. I soak in buttermilk all the time (well, not personally, but chicken). It contains enzymes which tenderise the flesh. You can even make your own – just add the juice of a lemon to a cup of semi or full-fat milk and leave it for half an hour. The best buttermilk Southern Fried chicken I’ve ever tried is this one.
      It really is amazing and I used it all the time. Cheers…Keith

  2. Tempest63

    Great blog with some outstanding recipes. I aim to be cooking your Lamb and Dahl curry this weekend. My question though is, you seem to use buttermilk to soak your chicken but have you ever been tempted to use Kefir, the fermented milk?