Chicken Kottu Roti: Sri Lankan Flatbread Stirfry with Chicken


Directly translated it means chopped bread, this dish, originally created by Sri Lankan peasants to make simple bread into a more complete, nourishing meal, has exploded in popularity the world over. Wherever there is a Sri Lankan expatriate community to prepare it, you’ll be able to find a restaurant serving kottu roti. Even in India the dish is well known, which is interesting because typically Sri Lankans adopt Indian dishes and not the other way around.

This dish is my take on the Kottu Roti, and as such it might be a little different. Most varieties treat the bread as a vegetable, cooked along with the sauce and other vegetables. I’d like to present it in a way closer to rice, sautéed to warm and crisp it and served as a bed for the sauce, chicken and vegetables to go on. You probably won’t be able to find Sri Lankan bread in your local grocery, so if you need to you can use naan or pita, any good flat bread will work just fine. The rest of the ingredients are all pretty easy to get ahold of. Here’s what you’ll need to make Kottu Roti!

What you need to make Kottu Roti

  • 2 loaves of roti or other flatbread cut in half and then sliced into thin strips
  • 1 large or two smaller chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch cubes
    1 jalapeno pepper.
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger or 1 thumb sized piece fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 peeled carrot, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 green pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
    1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp curry powder or garam masala
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish

Reserved seasoning for the roti:

  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp oil
    ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

How To Make Kottu Roti Step by Step

To start off, combine the tomato, one onion, the jalapeno, the garlic and the ginger in a food processor and puree. Put a wok over high heat and add the oil, swirling to coat. Once it’s heated, add the fennel seeds and toast until you can smell them, no more than a minute. Add the chicken and toss around continuously until the chicken is lightly golden. Season with the curry powder, cumin, salt, pepper, coriander and chili powder and sautee for a bit longer. Add the onion, carrots and red and green peppers. Sautee until the onions begin to soften and then add your pureed sauce. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about five minutes, being careful not to overcook the vegetables.

In a separate pan, heat the oil and seasonings for the roti over medium high heat. Once the pan is coated and the seasoning are putting off their aromas, add the bread and toast for about 2-3 minutes. To serve, place a bed of the sliced bread on a plate and then ladle over the sauce and chicken mixture. Garnish with cilantro for a classic presentation. The bright green really makes the dish pop!