Recipes, Chicken Recipes

Jaffna roast chicken

Deeply aromatic with a spice mix that includes fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and fenugreek, this whole roast chicken recipe is one of the most delicious and well-known recipes in Sri Lanka. It’s best served with flatbreads, rice, dahl, or a zingy salad.

Jaffna roast chicken

Jaffna roast chicken

Recipe by

Serves 4-6


  • 2.2 kg Chicken, Whole

  • Spice mix
  • ½ tsp fenugreek

  • ½ tsp fennel seeds

  • ½ tsp black peppercorns

  • ½ tsp coriander seeds

  • 2 cloves

  • Remaining ingredients
  • ½ nutmeg, grated

  • 5 cardamom pods, bashed with the flat of a knife

  • ½ cinnamon stick

  • 2 tsp tomato paste

  • 1 thumb ginger, grated

  • 2 cloves garlic, grated

  • 2 roots turmeric, grated (or 1 tsp ground turmeric)

  • 1 small bunch curry leaves, picked (or 2 tbsp dried curry leaves)

  • ½ heaped tsp chilli powder

  • 200ml coconut milk

  • 150ml water

  • 1 tbsp fine salt


  • Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  • Toast all the spices for the spice mix in a dry pan. Once it smells aromatic, remove from the heat and grind to a powder.
  • Mix the spice mix powder with the rest of the ingredients, except the chicken.
  • Smother the chicken in the mixture and then place breast side down in a baking tray that is relatively snug. Pour over all the mix.
  • Roast for 45 minutes. At this point, flip the chicken over. If the liquid level is running low, then top this up with a little extra water.
  • Roast for a further 45 minutes. Turn the heat up to 180°C and roast for a final 10 minutes.