Chicken Devel (Sri Lankan Devilled Chicken)

On my very first night in Kandy, Sri Lanka I got to taste a fantastic chicken devel, also called devilled chicken. I immediately fell in love with the dish and HAD to learn how to make it. So I quickly message to my homestay host, and she agreed to teach me step by step the following day. This recipe is something I continue to make again and again for friends, family, and even just myself!

Sri Lankan Chicken Devel

So this dish is one of my favorite Sri Lankan dishes. It is called Chicken Devel, or Devilled Chicken, and it is an extremely flavorful recipe. It is not a curry, but it does use curry leaves. If you do not like curry flavor you can absolutely leave out the leaves to suit your taste preference. This recipe was taught to me by the owner of a home stay that Alona and I stayed at in Kandy.

The best part about this dish is just how easy it is to make. While I am going to give you ingredient measurements, you can just as easily adjust more or less to suit your taste. This is what makes cooking so fun. Unsurprisingly this is the second most popular chicken recipe on this site after my baking powder chicken wings, and it is the winner of the 2019 recipe of the year!

While this dish does have quite a few ingredients, you can leave some out if you don’t like that flavor. I also know that curry leaves can be difficult to find, so you can use just the curry powder if you so choose.

What Does Devel Mean?

Devil (or ‘devel‘) in Sri Lankan cooking refers to a hot and flavorful culinary style known for its intense spiciness and rich, aromatic flavors. This cooking technique is said to have been brought to Sri Lanka by Chinese immigrants in the 19th century who set up restaurants to cater to other Chinese working outside what is now the port of Colombo.

Devel often involves marinating meats, typically chicken or beef, in a potent blend of spices, including chili, black pepper, garlic, and ginger, before stir-frying them. The result is a dish that packs a punch, with a nice balance of heat and complex flavors.

Chicken Devel Ingredients

  • 500 grams Chicken; segmented. You can use light or dark meat. In my opinion the best choice is to use chicken wing flats cut in half.
  • 1 Onion; yellow. Chopped.
  • 4 cloves Garlic; minced.
  • 1 tsp Ginger; crushed.
  • 2 Chilies; This is where your spice is coming from so you can pick chilies that are suitable for your palate. Just cut them into bite size pieces.
  • 1 Tomato; medium sized. Chopped.
  • 2 tsp Curry Powder (just blitzed coriander, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds)
  • 2 Curry Leaves. You can buy Sri Lankan curry leaves here
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tbsp Lime Juice
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp Salt; or to taste.

Chicken Devel Instructions

  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. In a pot, add the chicken pieces and then add just enough water to cover the meat. Turn on the heat and boil until the water is almost completely dissolved.
  3. Keep the heat on high, and add the butter. Then add the curry powder, chili pieces, onion, crushed ginger, turmeric, tomato, and finally garlic. Mix well and let cook until fragrant.
  4. Turn the heat down low and add the sauces. Toss to coat. Plate and drizzle over the lime juice and serve immediately.

How To Store Sri Lankan Devilled Chicken

Chicken devel can be stored for 3 days in the refrigerator, and in my opinion the next day the flavors are even more infused. You can reheat easily in the microwave.

Devilled chicken is best served alongside steamed white rice, but fried rice is also very popular.

Chicken Devel Sri Lankan Devilled Chicken

Chicken Devel (Sri Lankan Devilled Chicken)

Chicken Devel is one of the most popular dishes in Sri Lanka. This recipe was taught to me by the host of a homestay I stayed at in Kandy.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Servings 4 people
Calories 194 kcal


  • Pot


  • 500 grams Chicken segmented, white or dark
  • 1 Onion medium; chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic minced
  • 2 Chilies red or green, large pieces
  • 1 Tomato chopped
  • 2 tsp Curry Powder (store bought is okay, but this is just blitzed coriander, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds)
  • 2 Curry Leaves
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tbsp Lime Juice
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Salt or to taste
  • 1 tbsp Butter or margarine


  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • In a pot add the chicken and fill with enough water just to cover the meat. Bring to a boil and let boil until the water is almost completely evaporated.
  • Then add the butter, curry powder, sliced chili pieces and stir. Let fry for a minute or two.
  • Add in the onion, ginger, garlic, Turmeric powder, curry leaves, tomato, and salt. Mix well.
  • Next turn the heat down low, add the three sauces, and stir to coat. Plate and drizzle over some lime juice. Serve immediately.
Keyword Chicken Devel, Deviled Chicken, Sri Lankan Devilled Chicken
Sri Lankan Chicken Devel Pin
Follow me on Pinterest!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through the links it allows the site to make money at no additional cost to you. For more information please see Cooking To Entertain’s Policy page.

10 thoughts on “Chicken Devel (Sri Lankan Devilled Chicken)”

  1. 5 stars
    This is the best recipe I have found. I ate this on a trip to Colombo and have been trying to make something at home just as good.

    1. It basically is! It was originally created by Chinese immigrants to Sri Lanka during a large work migration about 100 years ago. There’s still a vibrant Chinatown in Colombo as well.

  2. 5 stars
    Wonderful dish. I added hot sauce along with the rest of the ingredients which gave it more of a reddish color but it was tasty nonetheless. I found your original suggestion of just two chilies to be not spicy enough for my tastes but I’m a pepperhead so I always add more heat.

  3. Johanna Alliura

    5 stars
    This was really good. I love Chinese food, and trying Chinese fusion dishes around the world is always a unique experience. I made this with some white rice and the entire family loved it!

  4. 5 stars
    Chicken devel is my favorite Sri Lankan dish and this recipe is perfect, ok maybe could use more chillies but other than that perfect.

    1. Definitely add more to suit your taste. I add more depending on what chilies I use too, but these ones were particularly strong (for me)

Leave a Comment

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.

Scroll to Top