There’s a reason why Chicken Kottu Roti is insanely popular in Sri Lanka! Chopped flatbread mixed and mashed together with chicken and vegetables and lots of aromatic spices, this chicken kottu roti recipe is as delicious as it is comforting, and it also works splendidly as an anti-hangover meal! 🙂 I’ve also provided tips and substitutes for adapting this famous street food dish to make at home.
Let me start with this proclamation – Chicken Kottu Roti is the BEST Sri Lankan street food.
You can’t ever visit Sri Lanka and leave without eating Kottu roti (also spelled Koththu or Kotthu). It’ll be hard to avoid it anyway. If you take a stroll down a busy street in the heart of Colombo (or any other urban/suburban part of the country) in the late evening, you’ll be greeted with the sound of street vendors making kottu roti from a fair distance away, followed immediately by the aroma of a tantalizingly delicious meal that will flood your mouth with saliva. To be fair though, the mere mention of kottu roti will have that effect on many Sri Lankans, who have come to embrace this uniquely Sri Lankan dish regardless of race, religion, age or socioeconomic status.
Chopped roti – I use store-bought paratha roti, when I can’t find godamba roti.
About Sri Lankan Kottu Roti
Kottu roti is made with a type of flatbread called “Godhambara roti” or “Godamba roti” (which is also called roti canai, which originates from Malaysia, or the flakier cousin – paratha, from India), that is shredded and then mixed with vegetables, meat and eggs (or not, for a vegetarian or vegan option) and aromatic spices and sauces. The whole mix is then chopped and mixed together on a large flat griddle with two large steel chopping blades, which produces that characteristic sound and the theatrics of making kottu roti. A lot of street vendors will also have their very own beat and rhythm when using those blades, which make for a very tasty as well entertaining dish! It’s the Sri Lankan version of “dubstep teppanyaki”!
Different Sri Lankan Kottu Roti options
While Chicken Kottu Roti (or Chicken Koththu Roti) is my absolute favorite (and probably most popular), there are different versions of this kottu that you can make. So you can adapt this recipe for Curried Chicken Kottu to also make any of the following.
- Roast Chicken Kottu roti (same as the curried chicken kottu, but without the curry and made with roast chicken instead)
- Vegetarian Kottu roti (or vegetable kottu)
- Egg Kottu roti
- Cheese Kottu roti
- Chicken and Cheese Kottu roti
- Beef Kottu roti
Cheese kottu is a more recent addition to the repertoire, and I’m not quite sure what I think about it. I passed up the opportunity to try it when I last visited Sri Lanka, because really, nothing could beat a classic chicken kottu, with a side of spicy curry gravy. But I’ve been told that it’s quite delicious and catching on. If you’d like to try chicken and cheese kottu, you can easily add 1 cup of shredded cheese to this recipe.
What’s even more fun and unique about Sri Lankan Kottu Roti is that this dish has gained in popularity as a great antidote to hangovers! This is why you’ll find street vendors chopping up a storm well into the night and even wee hours of the morning on many days. The carbs, the protein, the spices and the calories will definitely help settle your stomach and keep the nausea at bay.
If you’ve seen kottu roti being made by a street vendor in Sri Lanka, you might be wondering how on earth can I replicate that at home?
Thankfully, with just a few adaptations, it’s really quite simple to make Sri Lankan chicken kottu roti (chicken koththu roti) or any kottu for that matter, right at home without the use of those large steel blades and large flat griddle.
How to adapt Sri Lankan Chicken Kottu Roti (the epically popular Sri Lankan street food dish) to make at home
- If you live in an area with Sri Lankan, Indian or Malaysian restaurants, you can easily get godhambara roti (OR roti canai OR flaky paratha) and chop it yourself.
- If you can’t find that particular roti/flatbread easily, you can make TWO substitutions – either you can get the FROZEN paratha from Asian grocery stores and cook them yourself, OR you can use tortilla wraps! (Yep, you CAN use tortilla wraps as well, it won’t be the real deal, but it’ll taste almost the same!).
- You can’t really replicate that chopping action at home. But no worries, you don’t have to. You can start with cut up roti and use a big wok or pan to “stir-fry” everything together. I use my big 12-inch frying pan with high sides to make this kottu recipe.
- Use leftover chicken curry and curry sauce. Here’s a great recipe for Sri Lankan chicken curry!
- Use leftover roast chicken if you don’t have leftover chicken curry. Leftover veggies can be used in this kottu recipe as well, and is a great way to use up vegetables in the fridge!
The end product may not be very pretty, but it’s right out of flavortown! The chopped roti pieces soak up all the spices and flavor of the chicken and vegetables (or any other ingredient or protein option you may choose to include), WITHOUT becoming soggy, and produce a dish of irresistible flavor and comfort. This is such a favorite in our home, K frequently requests this for his lunches to take to work. So I often make a big batch on weekends, and then freeze individual portions for him to take to work. I hope you guys like this Sri Lankan chicken kottu recipe just as much as I have my whole life! 🙂
Sri Lankan Chicken Kottu Roti (Chicken Koththu Roti)
Sri Lankan Chicken Kottu Roti - Stir-fried chopped flatbread Sri Lankan style. Koththu roti is a popular Sri Lankan food that you can now enjoy at home. Great way to use up leftover chicken or vegetables too.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ medium onion
- 1 tbsp minced garlic about 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 6 large jalapenos or 3 anaheim peppers, halved and sliced (see recipe notes for substitutions)
- 1 cup sliced leeks washed, white part only
- ¼ of a cabbage
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper leave it out if you prefer a mild kottu
- 2 heaped cups of shredded chicken leftover chicken curry OR rotisserie chicken
- ½ cup leftover curry sauce OR use the curry spices below
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup shredded cheese optional - for chicken and cheese kottu roti
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lb chopped godhamba Roti or flour tortillas (see recipe notes for substitutions)
Curry Spices For Kottu
- 1 tbsp Sri Lankan curry powder
- ⅓ cup chicken stock
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper for a spicy version
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
In a large wok or non-stick pan (12 inch), heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is heated, add the onion and saute until softened. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for a few seconds. Do not let them burn.
Add all the vegetables (except for the carrots) and a generous pinch of salt and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the chicken, cayenne pepper and the curry sauce and stir-fry until the vegetables are just starting to soften. If you don't have leftover curry sauce, then add the ingredients for the curry spices given in the recipe.
Add the carrots and mix them in. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl, and season with a pinch of salt. Create a well in the middle of the vegetable mix and add the eggs into this well. Let the eggs cook while scrambling them. When the eggs are almost cooked, you can mix it with the vegetables and chicken. Taste and season with salt.
If you're making chicken and cheese kottu roti, add the shredded cheese and mix through at this point.
Add the shredded roti, and mix through with the vegetables and chicken. Mix frequently until the shredded roti is completely coated with the all the spices and curry sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Serve while hot with extra leftover curry sauce (optional).
Note 1 - Please de-seed the chili peppers if you want it less spicy. You can reduce the amount of chili peppers used, but don’t omit them as they add flavor.
Note 1 a - If you can find yellow banana peppers, use 6 banana peppers instead. This is what's traditionally used in Sri Lanka.
Note 2 (Substitutes for godhamba roti) - roti canai, or store-bought or homemade paratha roti. These roti are almost identical to godhamba roti. If you cannot find these roti, then you can use FLOUR tortillas instead.
Note 3 - Substitute the chicken with cooked beef, pork, or extra vegetables for different versions.
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