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How To Make Chicken Madras

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 Chicken 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 chicken 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!

You can make things easier on yourself!

This is a chicken madras curry recipe just like those you’ll find at curry houses. To make it, you will need to first prepare a base sauce and pre-cook your chicken.

It tastes amazing but if you would like to make a chicken madras curry without all the forward preparation, you could try my one pan version here.

About this chicken madras curry recipe…

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

In fact, it was my love of chicken 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.

Before long, I was right in the middle of the restaurant kitchens, learning the secrets behind curry house style curries like this chicken madras.

How spicy will this chicken Madras curry be?

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

That is when you order out but of course you can 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 chilli powder used was what made the difference between a chicken curry, a chicken madras curry which had about a tablespoons of chilli powder in it and a vindaloo which had three or four tablespoons of chilli powder.

Boring right? Over time, curry house chefs upped their game giving each of their curries their own characteristic flavour. It’s for this reason that madras curries now have their own distinctive flavour.

What is the difference between a chicken madras curry and a vindaloo?

Vindaloos are now made a lot more like the authentic Goan pork vindaloo. That said, pork isn’t used at most curry houses because they are run by muslims. They do add ingredients like vinegar and spicier fresh chillies to give their vindaloos a flavour that is similar but usually spicier than an authentic vindaloo. This gave them them a flavour that was different but equally as delicious to the Madras.  

A chicken madras curry is just over medium heat where vindaloo will often give you a spicy kick to remember.

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 this chicken madras curry in about ten minutes.

I pre-cook chicken in two ways for chicken madras curry. Most restaurants use this stewed 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 curry for extra flavour.

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

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 Korma
Chicken Dhansak
Lamb Rogan Josh

Chicken Tikka Masala
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!




Yield: 2

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 curry recipe! 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!


Thursday 2nd of May 2024

Made your chicken madras as per recipe ..including base curry sauce and pre-cooked chicken. It was awesome! Thank you. I occasionally get a herb mix from family in Goa, a "Xacuti" powder mix which is may replace the curry powder in this recipe with that mix to see how it goes.

Dan Toombs

Monday 20th of May 2024

Sounds great! Thanks very much. Dan


Monday 8th of April 2024

Followed your instructions to the letter, it tastes amazing. Thanks

Dan Toombs

Thursday 18th of April 2024

Great to hear, thank you. Dan


Sunday 17th of March 2024

Dan I've greatly enjoyed this curry and others from your books & website. One challenge I've had falls outside the recipe's details: my chicken chunks have tended to get tough/rubbery. But I recently found an adjustment that works for me & I aucethought I'd pass it along if others are interested. I 'borrow' a strategy from Chinese cooking and 'velvet' the chicken before using it in your recipes. Velveting involves marinating raw chunks with a bit of soy sauce, water, neutral oil, & cornstarch. Seems to help keep things tender, although it does add time and work to the cooking process... There are many websites/books covering the velveting technique. Thanks again for your great recipes--& especially the base sauce & mixed spice ideas. They make the dishes sing.

Dan Toombs

Monday 18th of March 2024

Great tip, thanks for sharing. Dan


Monday 13th of November 2023

I’m using 1kg of chicken breasts in my madras, should I just double up on the quantities? TIA Also I’m making a pork vindaloo if you have a recipe for that, same again I batch cook and freeze them so I usually bake 6 portions.

Dan Toombs

Monday 13th of November 2023

Yes more or less scale up accordingly but be a bit careful with any hot spices, add those to taste. There is a vindaloo recipe on my blog. Thanks Dan

Gary Boyle

Friday 1st of September 2023

I am sure you had a Madras recipe without a base sauce. Can’t find it. It was amazing.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 5th of September 2023

Here it is

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