Category Archives: Chicken

Loku Amma’s Chilli Chicken


This recipe is a family favourite. Something my mother’s older sister (Loku Amma) makes for us whenever we visit. She’s an amazing cook just like my mum and serves this chicken with yellow rice, eggplant pickle and potato curry.

The day we cooked this we were cooking for guests. This means a thorough cleaning of the Morawakella Bungalow and unlocking the pantry cupboards to unearth the “fine china”. The set that comes out is beige with a  gold line and blue accents.  It’s as old as the hills and my Great-uncle Nanda recently told me about when he first saw the set.

Nanda Aththa, as we call him, came to Delwala (my maternal grandmother’s ancestral home) in search of a bride. He hailed from Kandy and this was a day’s journey, if not more. Having arrived in Delwala he was  served lunch as was traditional in the fine blue and beige china. He was served alcohol, slightly less traditional but he remarked that he felt entitled to it so he asked. Then he was served tea, at this point he was worried. The bride (my grandmother’s sister Susila) had not yet appeared.   I turned to Susi Aththamma, who was standing and listening, and asked her what took her so long?

She looked at me slyly over her cup of tea and smiled as she said  “I refused to come out”. When I asked why, her answer was simple. “I had some better offers at the time.”

Now the story ends happily and the two did eventually marry. Maybe she came out and found her prospects were better than expected. Whatever the case may be, these blue and beige dishes have served some important  events and bought together some important people.

This recipe, as you see it today was cooked on a wood fire stove. Don’t you find that amazing? No knob to control the heat, not exhaust, no light.



  • 2 kg of chicken (thighs and drumsticks work best I find)
  • 1 tbsp. crushed ginger
  • 1tbsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • pepper
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar


  • 1 tbsp. chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp. sugar ( or to taste)
  • Oil for deep frying


1. Marinate the chicken with the first set of ingredients and leave for no more than an hour (the vinegar will start to cook otherwise)


2. Place the marinated chicken in a pot with some water . When the water comes to the boil, turn the heat down and place the lid on it, cooking until the chicken is cooked through. Drain the chicken and reserve to cooking liquid, this is what will become the sauce.


Heat the oil in a large frying pan and deep fry the chicken pieces until golden browns and crispy. Drain well on kitchen towels to absorb the excess oil.



To the reserved cooking liquid add the remaining ingredients for the sauce. Leave the sauce on medium heat until the sauce becomes thick and syrupy.      


Serve hot with lots of fluffy white rice!




Filed under Chicken, Meat/Fish Dishes

Koththu Roti


It’s really hard to imitate koththu roti outside Sri Lanka. The speed and clang of the metal blades can be heard far and wide and when I’m on the streets of Lanka it’s hard to ignore.  Koththu is a dish composed traditionally of chopped up godamba roti, meat curry and vegetables. Since godamba roti can be hard to find in Australia and virtually impossible here there are a lot of substitutes out there. I’ve seen koththu made with lebanese or pita bread (way too dry) and paratha (can be a bit oily). While these are passable substitutes, koththu always tastes better with the real deal. While eating some left-over curry with tortillas I commented to Mr Firehouse that I thought tortilla’s would be a good substitute.

We were feeling a bit sick and sorry after a big night (by our standards) last week and decided to have the traditional Lankan hangover cure, almost as a good at dirty 3am Kebab.

I already had the chicken curry made up and I used half the quantity. Without the extra reserved gravy on top, Callum was able to eat this. If you have the time and inclination why not try this with the real godamba roti?


Here’s how the professionals do it!


  • 8 large flour tortillas
  • oil
  • 1/2 a large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green chillis sliced
  • sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 leek sliced
  • 2-3 carrots shredded
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 a quantity of chicken curry meat shredded, bones removed and gravy reserved.
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce




Brush both sides of the tortillas lightly with oil. Place them in a large frypan over a medium heat until both sides are browned and lightly crispy.  Leave to cool and then chop into small fingers.



In a large wok or frying pan add 3-4 tablespoons of oil and the onions, garlic, chilli and curry leaves. Fry for a few minutes until the onions are browned and then add the leaks. I like to cook the leeks a little bit longer as raw leeks can be a bit like raw onion. Add the tomato and carrot and fry until just soft. Add a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and extra chilli flakes if you want more spice.


Finally add the chicken and pour over the egg. Mix the egg through and just as it’s starting to cook add the chopped tortillas. Mix and warm the whole mixture through.


The tortilla pieces should soak up the  sauce and any water at the bottom of the wok. They’ll turn a lovely brown and be very flavoursome.     Warm the gravy from the chicken curry and serve the koththu with the gravy poured on top.


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Filed under Chicken, Meat/Fish Dishes, Snacks and Sides

Chicken Wing Casserole/Sauce


My mother taught me many important things. One of the great fears she instilled in me was a fear of pressure cookers. I don’t think they have a name for that one yet.

The story goes that when she was younger and living in Sri Lanka she was cooking something in the pressure cooker in her family’s kitchen. The pressure cooker got a bit hot under the lid, accumulated a bit too much pressure and as she puts it, kind of exploded. So the family pressure cooker sat in my mum’s kitchen cupboard for years, untouched. One day she decided to slay the proverbial dragon and revive the pressure cooker once again. Of course, these were the days before internet, and the instruction manuals were long gone. There was no useful busy body on telling us how to work the thing. Ammi guessed and we waited with baited breath as it let out one long, drawn out, pressurized whistle. Then two, then three until finally we decided to turn the cooker off. We’d tempted fate enough already. Unfortunately, the fear that was instilled in regards to pressure cookers remains with me, to this day. Nowadays when I turn it on, I make sure Mister C is far, far away. I always plan to wait for three whistles and then chicken out at about two.

When Mr Firehouse and I were living in Homebush, we’d make this recipe (or half the quantity) in our little pressure cooker. It was a quick, cheap and easy meal and oft requested at that. Whenever I pull chicken wings out of the freezer and ask, “what should I make?  ” the answer is usually “Chicken Wing Pasta”. I can’t remember where I got the original idea from but I think it was Better Home & Gardens, years ago.



  • 1kg (a little over 2 pounds) chicken wings
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cans of tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme (or dried herbs of your choice)
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • 2 red chillis (optional)


In a heavy based saucepan, place your chicken wings in a single layer, season with salt and pepper and turn the heat on. Move the wings around so that they get some colour and they do not stick to the bottom. Do in two batches if you don’t have the room.


Once the wings have some brown, add the garlic, herbs and the red wine. Make sure you use the wine to help deglaze the pan and get all the good quality stuff off the bottom.


Add the tinned tomatoes and chillis (if using) and add enough water to cover the wings. Bring the whole mix to the boil and turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Place the lid back on and leave to cook for an hour and fifteen minutes. That is, until your sauce resembles the following;


While the sauce remains on the heat, fish out all the chicken wings which should be just falling apart. Shred the meat when it’s cool enough to touch and discard the bones, cartilage and any other nasty bits you don’t love.


Place the shredded chicken back into the sauce, season to taste and serve over long pasta or quinoa.



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Filed under Chicken, Meat/Fish Dishes

Chicken Curry

Here’s a fact; every Sri Lankan I know has a chicken curry recipe that varies slightly. There’s usually a secret ingredient, a steadfast opinion on the necessity of tomato and the right way to use curry powder. I learnt how to make curry from my mother, so this is based very much on her chicken curry.

The medley of Sri Lankan spices I use

This curry goes amazingly with bread, steamed white rice, roti and even crispy fries….trust me. Even baby Callum has had some of this with some the chilli and salt omitted of course.

The list of ingredients is daunting but in this day of globalisation most of these ingredients can be found at a local supermarket. The curry powder thing is confusing, basically a roasted curry powder is a raw curry powder that has been dry roasted in a pan until it’s dark brown in colour and smokey in flavour. Again, a good Sri Lankan grocery store will have it on hand.

Now, health conscious people will tell you that you can make chicken curry with lean, mean chicken breast. Lies…all lies….don’t listen to them. Block you ears, walk away. Chicken curry must, do you hear me? MUST be made with meat on the bone. The marrow imparts amazing flavour, the meat is sweeter and there is no greater pleasure than chewing on those bones after they’ve been soaking in curry sauce for ages.


  • 2kg Chicken cut into pieces – use a good quality, high welfare bird or legs and thighs portioned up. The meat must be on a bone and whether you leave the skin on or not is up to you.
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 3 cloves or garlic chopped
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger  peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • handful of curry leaves
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • 3-4 cardamon pods bruised
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 tsp unroasted curry powder
  • 2 tsp roasted curry powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp roasted chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Salt
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Sugar (optional)


I love making curry in cast-iron ceramic pot, it’s strangely reminiscent of the clay pots of Lanka and gives an amazing evenness of heat and flavour.
I start by frying the cinnamon stick in the ghee. Once the smell of cinnamon hits my nose I add the curry leaves, pandan leaf, ginger, garlic, onion, cloves and cardamon.

Bruising the cardamon and cloves a little in mortar and pestle
helps release the flavours a little more
I sweat all the ingredients off and wait for the onions to go lovely and soft. 
At this point I start adding the spices, I add them all at once and fry the resulting paste for about 4 minutes on medium heat until the spices really smell good. I mean, they smelt pretty ok to begin with but they should be knocking your socks off by now.
 Next the chicken goes in and you the chicken to be coated in all of the spices and lovely and sealed. Basically that raw pink meat should look nice and brown and spicy.
Next we add the tomatoes, I sometimes whizz this up with my stick blender especially if the little man is going to get into it, it’s totally not necessary but makes for a smooth sauce that he can eat easily.
One last stir to meld the chicken, the spices and the tomato and then pop on the lid.
Here’s the hard part…you must leave the curry alone. I bring the pot to the boil, bring the heat to a simmer and then cook for half an hour.
At the end of the half-hour the chicken will be cooked, the sauce will be lovely and thick and best of all your house it going to smell ah-mazing!
Take the lid off and give it a good stir before seasoning with salt to taste. I’ve put sugar on the list as an option because really it depends on your  tastte, sometimes the tomatoes can make the sauce very acidic and a little bit of sugar balances it out. Sometimes I find that the sugar is totally not necessary. Use your judgement here. Oh….and a word about patience. If you can leave this for a day in the fridge, it will taste better.


Filed under Chicken, Meat/ Fish Curries, Meat/Fish Dishes, Sri Lankan Food, Uncategorized

Gluten Free Dukkah Crusted Chicken

With so many gluten free friends I’ve had to think outside the box for some recipes. Here’s one that is as easy to make as it is delicious.

  • 3 chicken breasts/thighs sliced into batons
  • 15 skewers
  • 1 egg and a dash of milk
  • 1 cup of rice bubbles (make sure these are gluten free if you’re going for a gluten free recipe)
  • 3 table spoons of dukkah
  • salt and chill to taste

Place the rice bubbles and dukkah into the bowl of a food processer and whizz up until most of the kernels are broken up. I added some salt and chilli at this point because I felt it lacked a bit of seasoning

Now the other day I ran out of rice bubbles so I used these instead, because they were on hand

Make up the egg wash by mixing the egg with a dash of milk

Thread the chicken onto the skewers

Dip the skewer into the egg wash and then the seasoned rice mixture

Place on a tray while you finish the rest of chicken in the same way

Freshly crumbed chicken….mmmm

These can be placed on a tray and baked in the oven for about 30 minutes

Otherwise lightly grease a fry-pan and cook the chicken skewers on a medium heat until cooked through

These are delicious on their own or with a mild tomato chutney.

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Filed under "Something" Free Cooking, Chicken, Meat/Fish Dishes, Uncategorized