As British Indian restaurant style curries go, chicken madras has to be pretty high up on the list. It is a little bit fiery with a slightly sharp taste. In fact scratch that, it's a really spicy curry , If you like a bit of spice and want to know how to make an authentic chicken madras recipe, read on, as I will tell you everything that you need to know to make really tasty madras in exactly the same way as your local takeaway.
What is Madras?
Madras is a curry that is dark orangey and red in colour. It normally takes this colour from a mixture of the spices used in making the curry and tomato as a part of the curry base.
There is some debate as to the origins of the madras curry. Some claim that it originates from Southern India and was named after the city of Madras… Which is now called Chennai. However, whilst undoubtedly, curry has its roots in India, some claim that most versions of this spicy curry' may have originated in the UK.
Oh, by the way, madras isn't a curry for the faint-hearted…
Is a Chicken Madras Hot?
You better believe it! A chicken madras is typically regarded as a 'hot' curry. It isn't the hottest on most Indian restaurants menu's, but I'd say, on a scale of 1 – 10, it would sit somewhere in the region of an 8 at least…
The reason that madras is hot is that it includes hot chilli powder and can also include black pepper. Both of these make it a little spicy.
You might read recipes telling you to add yoghurt, lime juice or even make it in a slow cooker...
Here's my advice.
Don't… That definitely isn't an authentic Indian restaurant recipe. I guarantee you won't find a slow cooker in an Indian kitchen. All curries have a really short cooking time!
How Do You Make Homemade Curry Taste Like Takeaway?
The key to making homemade curry taste like the Indian restaurant style lies in how you cook it…
Duh, well, that's obvious…
Actually, no, it isn't. I used to make chicken madras with tins of tomatoes, onions and a huge mix of spices… Trust me, this isn't how the restaurants do it.
Most Indian restaurants make their curries by cooking meat, adding a few spices specific to that particular curry and then making the dish 'saucy' with base gravy.
If you don't know what BIR base sauce is, I've got an article here that tells you how to make a quick curry base sauce and how to use it.
Oh and here's a top tip. The chefs in my restaurant used to add an ingredient to practically every curry dish (and yes this includes chicken madras)...
Fresh coriander! This will give your chicken curry a really authentic and slightly citrusy taste!
How to Make a Chicken Madras
There are quite a few chicken madras recipes out there, offering all sorts of additions and funky ideas.
But rest assured that this is about as authentic as it gets and is exactly how the chef in your local Indian restaurant makes it.
We find chicken madras is easiest to make if you get all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go beforehand. So…
- Chicken all cubed
- Madras spice mix prepped and ready to use.
- Curry base gravy diluted and simmering
- Ginger and garlic paste at the ready…
Once you have heated your base gravy, it is time to start cooking!
What equipment do I need to make chicken madras?
You don't need much equipment to make a perfect homemade madras chicken curry.
For our chicken curry madras recipe, all you need is a small saucepan, a frying pan and a wooden spoon!
What Should I Serve with Chicken Madras Curry Sauce?
While chicken madras is absolutely delicious on its own, there are plenty of great accompaniments that go perfectly with madras curry sauce. Give one of the following a go, they work well with nearly all Indian food: -
- Mango chutney
- Basmati rice
- Naan bread
Oh and don't forget half a lemon! (your chicken madras has got to look authentic!)
Restaurant Style Chicken Madras Recipe | A Three-Part guide
We start by heating oil and getting the chicken browned. It doesn't need to be cooked all the way through. Just so it turns white on the outside, it will continue cooking in the lovely madras sauce… Which you are about to create…
Once the chicken is browned on the outside, we add a spoonful of garlic and ginger paste, along with a small pinch of fenugreek leaves. We give this a quick stir and coat the chicken in all of that fragrant oil.
Madras Curry Powder
Here comes the flavour… And its all in the curry powder.
We add a tablespoon of mixed powder, a madras curry spice, and a pinch of salt.
The mixed curry powder is a general spice used in most curries in varying amounts. But we want something specific. We want a madras. We supplement the curry powder flavours by adding things specific to a madras curry… namely, more chilli, some cumin seeds, a little ground coriander, and just a little garam masala.
Again, we toss and stir the chicken to get it coated in spice. This way, you ensure that some of those delicious flavours from the curry powder soaks into the chicken, its like a quick and hot madras curry marinade.
A good chicken madras recipe isn't just about the madras curry powder, or the curry sauce. It is in fact tomato based and for that reason you are going to need a decent helping of tomato paste.
People often get it wrong when using tomato paste. They tend to squeeze it directly into curry recipes. This is not the way. Instead my advice is to dilute your tomato paste until it is about the same consistency of double cream. You then add tomato puree to the pan and allow it to cook down until thick. This gets rid of some of that tangy acidity and is exactly how it is used in restaurant style chicken curry recipes.
And now time to make it saucy!
Once your puree has been reduced and begins to fry, it is time to add a ladle full of hot curry base sauce to the frying pan. Give it a good stir and let those ingredients mix and mingle. From there, it is just a case of letting it reduce until it is thick.
We add another ladle of base gravy, give the pan a shake and let it reduce. From there, just add a small squeeze of lemon juice and give it a stir before serving right away!
Sounds pretty simple, right?
That's because it is…
And here is a secret. Pretty much every curry you make from now on will follow the same formula… The only real difference is the type of meat that you use and which curry spices!
That's how they do it in the restaurants, so it stands to reason that if you follow the same technique, it should taste the same…
Easy Chicken Madras Recipe (Restaurant Style)
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Calories:380 per serving
Ingredients for the Perfect Curry
Madras curry spice mix
- 1 tablespoon mix powder
- 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon cumin (either powder or ground cumin seeds)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt to taste
For the Curry
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon of finely chopped green chillies
- 1 tablespoon garlic and ginger paste
- ½ teaspoon of fenugreek
- 1 large chicken breast cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree diluted
- 2 cups diluted BIR base gravy
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (or you could use tamarind paste)
- Fresh coriander to garnish (finely chopped)
- Place your base gravy in a small saucepan over medium heat. You want it to gently simmer.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat. Once the oil is very hot, add your chicken chunks and stir to ensure they are browned all over.
- Once the chicken begins to brown, add the ginger and garlic paste along with the fenugreek. Stir to coat the chicken. About 1 minute should be enough time. Be sure to add the green chilies at this point too!
- Add your madras curry powder and stir to coat the chicken in all the spices. Cook for two minutes until the madras powder darkens slightly.
- Tip in your diluted tomato puree and stir to combine with the spices coating the chicken. Wait for the puree to thicken and form little bubbles that don't disappear immediately.
- Once the puree has thickened, add 1 cup of your hot curry base and give the pan a stir. If there are any dry bits around the rim of the pan, scrape these in too.
- Leave the curry bubbling away. It won't take long for the base to reduce and thicken into a smooth sauce. Once it gets to just the wrong side of thick, add another cupful and stir.
- Reduce the curry down to the desired consistency, then add a squeeze of lemon juice and the chopped coriander. Give it a final stir and serve piping hot with some basmati rice to cool it down! Bosh! Madras curry… Absolutely delicious.
if this is your first time making a curry then you might feel a little lost?
Listen, don't worry.
This video is a little old but it is pretty spot on with the technique...
If this is your first time making a curry then you might feel a little lost?
Listen, don't worry.
This video is a little old but it is pretty spot on with the technique...
Chicken Madras Curry Recipe | Tips and Tricks
- You can use pre-cooked chicken instead of raw chicken. Most Indian restaurants have loads of pre-cooked meats ready to use in curries. If you want to check how to pre cook chicken for curry, check out my guide!
- Make sure your base gravy is simmering before adding it. If you are going to cook like an Indian chef, you don't want to cool down the pan. Their pans are always red hot.
- Speaking of which… Make sure your frying pan is hot. If you ever watch Indian restaurant chefs cooking on gas… The flame is nearly always on full blast. Do what they do. Cook with a sizzling hot pan!
- Don't overcook your ginger and garlic paste. It can burn in seconds and will make your madras taste bitter.
- Make sure to scrape the dried sauce from the sides of the frying pan. This is jam-packed full of tasty madras flavour and caramelised spice mixture.
- If you want to tone the madras chicken down a touch, don't add yoghurt. Just use less chilli powder. Half a teaspoon will give you a similar taste, but make your curry about a medium heat.
- If you want to make a vegetable madras, the recipe is identical, just subsitute the chicken pieces for your favourite vegetable mix
- If you don't have tomato puree, don't worry. Blended tinned tomatoes work nearly as well.
- If you find that your base gravy thickens too much feel free to add a cup of chicken stock or beef stock to loosen your curry sauce slightly.
- If you haven't got the ingredients to make madras powder, don't worry. You can use regular curry powder in a pinch. Just add extra red or green chillies. Cayenne pepper is also a good substitute.
So there you have it… Our 100% authentic chicken madras restaurant recipe. There are variations, and each chef will have his own secret blend of spices, but this is up to you to play around with. Madras is a simple curry to make and an ideal place to get started to wow your mates. While you are here, why not take a look at my other articles? I teach you everything from how to pre cook chicken to cooking fresh naan bread!