Jun 28

What? Madras is not an authentic Indian curry

Madras is another example of a curry that is unknown in Indian. It gets its name from the city of Madras (now Chennai) in the South of Indian, but it was name used by the British from when they arrived in 1604, to describe all dishes in the region around the city. In his 1903 book “Curries and How to Prepare Them” by Joseph Edmunds, he optimised the ignorance of the British about the subtleties of  Indian cuisine stating that “in India there are at least three separate classes of curry, the Bengal, the Madras and the Bombay.” and that Madras was simply just a spicy sauce for meat, made from a spoonful of curry powder, some onions and tomatoes which he described as “the high old curry made perfect.Since there is no authentic version of Madras curry, most modern versions of the dish have been developed in British Indian Restaurants, but it is generally a medium hot, spicy curry with a dark red sauce, usually made from tomatoes. My version of Madras curry is developed by building on my BIR curry base sauce and adding typical Madras flavours. The result is as close to an Indian Restaurant style Madras curry that you can make at home. You could try beef or shrimp as an alternative to chicken.

Madras Curry

Madras Curry

British Indian Restaurant Style Madras Curry

Total time:


  • 4 medium chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces and pre-cooked
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 fresh chilli peppers (e.g serrano)
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) of crushed tomatoes (e.g passata)
  • a small handful of fresh coriander (cilantro) chopped as a garnish
  • 1 tbsp of fresh ginger purée
  • 1tbsp of garlic purée
  • 3 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 500ml (1 pint) of BIR base gravy
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp of hot chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp of fenugreek (methi) leaves
  • 1 tbsp of garam masala
  • 1 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp of whole cumin seeds
Madras spices

Madras spices


If the chicken is not cooked, quickly fry it in a large skillet in a little oil over medium heat for about 8mins. In a seperate pan, gently heat the curry base sauce. In skillet or frying pan, add the oil and gently fry the onions, until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, peppers and the spices and gently cook for a minute or so to release the aromatics. Add the base sauce and the tomatoes and cook on medium for about 20 mins. Add the chicken and heat for about 5mins. Season with salt to taste. Serve over rice or naan bread.

Essential Kitchen Supplies

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  1. Giles @anyone4seconds

    Thanks for sharing a great recipe – one I have bookmarked to make 🙂

  2. Julie Mclaughlin

    2 tablespoons of chilli powder must be a mistake it would blow your head off surely?

    1. Stuart

      2 tbsp of chilli powder for a Madras isn’t that much. However you can reduce (or increase) the amount to taste

  3. Farzin


    I was wondering if its possible for you to post a video showing the steps on how to cook the madras.

    Possibly one for the gravy as well.

    It would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you

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