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How To Make Chicken Madras

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Madras curry as it should be! This recipe gets restaurant quality results!

Slightly milder than a vindaloo and equally as delicious, if you like spicy curries, you’ll love this madras curry recipe.

This is how madras curry is made at the best curry houses.

I know because I have visited and cooked at so many of them

If you have my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy’ and/or ‘The Curry Guy Bible’, you might recognise the madras curry sauce. In the books I featured lamb madras curry to serve 4 people.

Here I have done it with chicken in a curry house portion to serve 1 – 2 people. 

Madras curry

Like it spicy? Give this madras curry a go!

About this madras curry recipe…

Back in the early 90s when I moved to the UK, Indian food was a new cuisine for me. Madras curry and also vindaloo were my favourites as I love spicy food.

In fact, it was my love of madras curry that led me to starting my blog in the first place. The blog started as an authentic Indian food blog but before long I was receiving requests from readers to show how to make British Indian restaurant (BIR) style recipes.

At the time, curry house curry recipes were a big secret. Chefs just didn’t want to give away their curry recipes that were so unique to the UK. 

It took being featured in a few national newspapers and a large social media following before I was finally allowed into the kitchens to learn the recipes

This chicken madras recipe came through visiting many Indian restaurant kitchens, taste tests and experimentation!

In my opinion it’s the best chicken madras out there. Judging from the popularity of this recipe on my blog and in my books, I think you might agree.

This is how chicken madras is made at restaurant all over the UK and now the world. Now you can make it at home too. 

How spicy will this chicken Madras curry be?

On the heat scale, madras in just above a jalfrezi curry and slightly milder than a vindaloo.

That is when you order out. You can of course adjust the seasoning when you cook a chicken madras yourself. 

If you are not sure about the hot spices, simply reduce the amount you put in. It’s a lot easier to add spices at the end than it is to reduce the heat level once the spices have been added.

That’s the beauty of cooking for yourself… you can decide how spicy to make your curries. 

What is Madras curry?

Now let’s discuss what a Madras is. Back in the old days, you had three choices at British Indian restaurants, mild, spicy and very spicy.

The curries were all made the same way, just the amount of curry powder used was what made the difference between a chicken curry, a Madras which had about a tablespoon of chilli powder in it and a vindaloo which had three or four tablespoons of chilli.

Boring right? Over time, curry house chefs upped their game giving each of their curries their own characteristic flavour.

Mild chicken curries stayed about the same. Madras curries were flavoured with other ingredients seen often in southern Indian curries. Fresh green chillies were introduced for example and as in this recipe, a good dose of sweet mango chutney.

Vindaloos were made a lot more like the authentic Goan pork vindaloo. That said, pork wasn’t used as most curry houses are muslim run but they did add ingredients like vinegar and spicier fresh chillies to give their vindaloos. This gave them them a flavour that was different but equally as delicious to the Madras.  

Madras curries are still medium heat curries where vindaloo will often give you a spicy kick to remember.

So that’s enough of all that! This chicken Madras curry is one of my all time curry house favourites. I hope you enjoy it too.


Preparing Ahead

Curry Sauce
All of the authentic British Indian restaurant (BIR) recipes on my blog call for a base curry sauce. Here’s my recipe. Once this is made, you will be able to make all of your favourite curry house style curries in about ten minutes.

I pre-cook chicken in two ways. Most restaurants use this method to prepare their chicken for this curry.

It’s slowly stewed in a spiced broth. The liquid from the resulting stock can be added to your chicken madras for extra flavour.

You could also add tandoori style chicken tikka to this recipe if you’d like to create tandoori Chicken Madras.

For this recipe I used the slowly stewed version.

Do I have to use chicken?

Of course not! This Madras curry recipe is all about the sauce. Any meat, vegetables or paneer can be used as a main ingredient. For example, try this tandoori paneer

Following are step by step photographs of how to make a chicken madras.

Frying whole spices

Heat the oil over medium-high heat and then throw in the whole spices to infuse.

Adding garlic and ginger paste to the pan

Add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for about 30 seconds.

Adding ground spices to the pan

Stir in the ground spices.

Pouring tomato puree into the pan

Then add the tomato puree and bring to a simmer.

Adding green chillies to the sauce.

In go the green chillies.

Adding base curry sauce to pan

Add a ladle or two of the base sauce. You can continue topping this up if the curry is looking dry.

Adding chicken to the chicken madras curry

Dump in the chicken and stir well to coat with the sauce.

Adding mango chutney to the madras curry

Add the mango chutney and bring it all to a rolling simmer, adding more base as needed.

Chopped coriander (cilantro) to garnish

Here are more curry house curry favourites you might like to try!

Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Korma
Chicken Dhansak
Lamb Rogan Josh
Lamb Vindaloo
Chicken Chilli Garlic
Chicken Patia
Lamb Bhuna

chicken madras curry

So good with Basmati rice or a chapati.

Go on… You know you want it. Make this and enjoy!

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How To Make Chicken Madras

Chicken Madras Curry

This curry house style chicken curry is a favourite with spicy food fans. You can adjust the heat of this chicken Madras curry to taste.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 dried Kashmiri chillies
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 2 green bird's eye chillies
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp mixed powder
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) tomato puree
  • 300ml (1 1/4 cups) base sauce
  • 300g (11oz) pre-cooked chicken
  • 1 tbsp smooth mango chutney or lime pickle
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro) to garnish
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the dried Kashmiri chillies and cardamom pods.
  2. Move these whole spices around in the oil for about 30 seconds to infuse into the oli and then add the garlic and ginger paste. Fry for a further 30 seconds.
  3. Add the green chillies followed by the cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli powder and mixed powder and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in the tomato puree followed bye a ladle full or two of the base sauce. Bring to a simmer and then add the chicken pieces. Only stir if the base sauce is obviously sticking to the pan. As the base sauce cooks, it will caramelise to the side of the pan. Scrape this in for more flavour.
  5. Stir in the mango chutney and lime juice. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes, again only stirring if the sauce is obviously sticking to the pan.
  6. To finish, sprinkle the garam masala over the top, garnish with the fresh coriander (cilantro) and season with salt to taste.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 244Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 580mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 4gSugar: 23gProtein: 13g

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I hope you enjoy this chicken Madras! If you do give it a try, please don’t be a stranger. Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. 
Making chicken madras

You can make this a day ahead. If fact it gets better. I often freeze mine for a later date too.

Making chicken madras

Give it a go! If you like chicken madras, this is a good one!


Wednesday 15th of December 2021

Hi Dan,

By yield to you mean it serves 2 people or it makes up 2 cartons of curry? Thanks

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 15th of December 2021

It serves 2 people. Thanks Dan

Kate Leigh

Tuesday 25th of May 2021

I made this according to instructions and all I can taste is the tomato purée. It’s overwhelming. Do I need to water down the base! I used 300mls of the base straight from blending.

I want to love it but its just spicy tomato to me.

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 26th of May 2021

Yes - the 300ml required is diluted base sauce. I have a video on YouTube showing how to make Madras if you need further help. Thanks Dan

Tom Baker

Wednesday 14th of April 2021

Hi Dan I made all the pre-prepared elemnets for this recipe over the last few days and completed the Madras yesterday evening. A-MAZE-ING!!! It will be my go-to curry for the fore-seeable and I'm thrilled that I still have loads of base sauce and cooked chicken in the freezer. I'm now going to explore some of your side-dish recipes. Thank you so much.

Dan Toombs

Friday 16th of April 2021

Great to hear. Thank you so much. Dan


Saturday 27th of February 2021

Hi Dan, I live in the UK and i used 70ml tomato puree. I used the tube concentrated version which seems pretty thick. In your videos yours seem more runny. I was wondeirng if you meant tomato sauce which has a much thinner consistency.

Dan Toombs

Sunday 28th of February 2021

For tomato puree I use passata mixed with a bit of water. You could use the tube tomato puree too but I like passata. Thanks Dan

Beric Dawson

Saturday 5th of December 2020

Hi Dan,

Cooked this again last night. WOW is all I can say. Absolutely gorgeous, the best one yet. This may have been because I was not too specific with the measurements and just added them without too much care on exact quantities. We were still talking about it hours after finishing it, and so quick and easy to make.

Thank you so much,


Dan Toombs

Tuesday 8th of December 2020

Thanks very much for letting me know and yes and always best just to throw ingredients in according to your taste and what you have available. Dan

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