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Food from Sri Lanka, located off the southern tip of India, has flavor combinations not seen in other cuisines because of its position at the intersection of trade routes and cultures, says Kentucky-based chef Samantha Fore, whose family is from the country. This soup exemplifies the essential, mouthwatering combo of sweet, sour and heat; bright acidity from fresh lime juice is balanced by coconut milk, which adds richness without being heavy. Spices grown on the island—like cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and cumin—lend toasty notes to the broth and add a layer of gentle heat behind the fiery dried chile. The Tuk spice blend is one Fore created (named after her pop-up restaurant, Tuk Sri Lankan Bites) and is available online through spicewallabrand.com. "It is basically everything I would put into a chicken curry," she says, including ginger, lemongrass and turmeric.

EatingWell Magazine, March 2022; updated February 2023


Credit: Greg DuPree

Recipe Summary

35 mins
1 hr 15 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Season both sides of chicken with 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon spice blend (or curry powder) on the underside.

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add pandan, if using, cinnamon stick, cardamom, fenugreek and mustard seeds. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Discard the pandan and cinnamon stick. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook until the skin is golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

  • Add carrot, celery, leek, onion, salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1 tablespoon spice blend (or curry powder); cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add garlic, lemongrass, ginger and curry leaves; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add turmeric and chile (or crushed red pepper), if using, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.

  • Stir in broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Nestle the chicken into the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and the chicken reaches 165°F, about 20 minutes. Discard curry leaves.

  • Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the skin and bones. Shred the meat with two forks and return to the pot. Stir in coconut milk and lime juice and simmer for 5 minutes more.


Popular in Indian cuisine, fenugreek seeds taste maple-y, tangy and nutty. Find them in the spice aisle at well-stocked grocery stores, in Indian markets or online.

Nutrition Facts

1 3/4 cups
413 calories; protein 29g; carbohydrates 16g; dietary fiber 5g; sugars 4g; fat 26g; saturated fat 16g; cholesterol 135mg; sodium 564mg; potassium 649mg.