Skip to Content

Beef Madras from Scratch

Make British Indian restaurant (BIR) beef madras from scratch without base sauce!

Many people want to make British Indian restaurant (BIR) style curries but can’t be bothered with preparing the ‘essential’ base sauce. That smooth onion based sauce is used at UK curry houses to prepare everything from the mildest chicken tikka masala to the spiciest phaal.

Here I would like to show you how you can make top quality, curry house style beef Madras from scratch without the need to make a base sauce first.

Beef Madras from scratch

This beef Madras tastes just as good if not better than what you get at the best curry houses. And no base sauce required!

Which cut of meat?

That’s really up to you and how much time you have. I used beef rump for this which cooks and becomes tender much faster than stewing meat.

That said, stewing meat does have its benefits. The longer cooking time will produce a much richer stock which you can use when making this beef Madras from scratch.

Do I have to use beef?

Absolutely not. Just like when you go to a curry house, you can add the protein of your choice. If you prefer a vegetarian Madras, try adding more vegetables and/or paneer. You could also try lamb or chicken but cooking times will of course vary.


If using pre-cooked tandoori chicken, paneer or seafood, you could add water instead of the beef stock mentioned above. That or use chicken stock or another homemade stock of your choice.

Want to try this rogan josh exactly as it’s made at curry houses?

I’ve got you covered. Here’s a good and authentic British Indian restaurant style lamb Madras using base curry sauce.

You could also just make the curry house style Madras sauce and add whatever you want to it. Here’s the sauce recipe on its own.

Step by step photographs of how to make beef madras from scratch…

Ingredients for beef Madras from scratch

Gather all your ingredients together before starting cooking. It’s much easier that way.

Cooking the beef for the Madras curry

Sear the meat in a little oil and then add the spices, onion and cover with water. Simmer until tender.

Simmering beef

It will take longer with stewing steak but you’ll get a much richer stock. When tender, strain the stock into a bowl and retain the cooked beef. Discard the onion.

Adding ground spices to the pan

Fry the onions in a little oil until golden brown. Then add the garlic and ginger paste and stir it in.

Simmering sauce in the pan

Add the chopped tomatoes and about 125ml (1/2 cup) water. Bring to a simmer.

Simmering the sauce before blending

The simmering sauce will look like this.

Adding mango chutney to the sauce

Stir in the mango chutney and allow to cool some.

Blending the sauce

Blend the cooled sauce until smooth.

Infusing spices and chillies into oil in the pan

Now add the whole spices to some oil to infuse over medium high heat for 30 seconds. Then stir in the chopped chillies.

Simmering the blended sauce in the pan

Pour in the blended sauce. It will be too thick so add about 250ml (1 cup) of the beef stock or water.


Simmering the Madras curry sauce

If the sauce is too thick, add more stock or water. If too thin, cook it down.

Beef simmering in the sauce

Add the meat and simmer. Only stir if the sauce is sticking to the pan. Scrape any caramelised sauce on the edges of the pan back into the sauce.

Finished beef Madras from scratch

Season with salt to taste, and garnish with coriander (cilantro) and a squeeze of lime juice.

If you like this beef Madras recipe, you might like to try some of these classics too…


Chicken vindaloo from scratch
Rogan josh from scratch
Chicken chasni from scratch
Chicken chilli garlic curry from scratch

Yield: 4

Beef Madras from Scratch

Beef Madras from Scratch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • FOR THE MEAT (optional)
  • 700g (1 ½ lbs) rump steak or stewing steak, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 3 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 750ml (3 cups) water
  • 4 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 medium onions - finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp garam masala (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Madras curry powder
  • 1 - 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp picante paprika
  • 200g (7 1/2 oz) tinned (canned) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp smooth mango chutney, or to taste
  • 2 dry Kashmiri chillies (optional)
  • Seeds from two green cardamom pods
  • 2 - 4 green bird's eye chillies - finely chopped
  • ½ tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander - finely chopped
  • Salt to taste


  1. To cook the meat, brown it in a large frying pan or karahi in the oil over medium high heat. This should only take a couple of minutes. Stir in the spices and quartered onion and then cover with 750ml (3 cups water).
  2. Allow to simmer until the meat is good and tender. This should take about 20 minutes but don’t rush this. The meat is ready when it’s tender.
  3. When cooked to your liking, pour this through a sieve into a bowl, retaining the meat and stock but discarding the onion pieces. Keep warm.
  4. To make the curry, heat the same pan back up over medium high heat and add 2 tbsp oil. Stir in the chopped onions and fry for about 8 minutes or until soft and translucent and just beginning to turn a light golden brown.
  5. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry for a further 30 seconds. Then add the ground spiced and stir them into the onion mixture. Add the chopped tomatoes and 125ml (1/2 cup) of the beef stock from the pre-cooked meat or water and bring to a simmer.
  6. Take off the heat and stir in the mango chutney. Allow to cool some.
  7. Blend the cooled sauce until smooth. Wipe your pan clean with a paper towel. It doesn’t need to be spotless!
  8. Add two tablespoons oil over medium high heat. When visibly hot, stir in the dried Kashmiri chillies and cardamom and let these flavours infuse into the oil for about 30 seconds.
  9. Stir in the chopped chillies and fry for a further 30 seconds, then pour the blended sauce into the pan. At this stage, the sauce will be too thick. Add about 250ml (1 cup) more stock or water to thin it some and add the cooked beef.
  10. Bring to a rolling simmer only stirring if the sauce is obviously sticking to the pan. It will caramelise around the edges. Scrape this back into the sauce for more flavour.
  11. Once your pre-cooked meat is heated through, it’s time to finish this off. If your curry is too dry, add more water or stock. If it is too saucy, cook it down until you are happy with the consistency.
  12. Sprinkle the kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) into the sauce by rubbing it between your fingers. Then season with salt to taste, squeeze in the lime juice and garnish with coriander to serve.

Did you like this recipe?

Please join me on Facebook where I share all my latest recipes and videos. Just click that Facebook icon on the left and let's get to know each other!

I hope you enjoy this beef Madras from scratch recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Roger Golding

Wednesday 3rd of August 2022

I used Chicken for this and a small amount of 1 cal oil as I've been told to cut down, this came out beautifully the sauce was rich and thick I thought it wouldn't be as good as a base gravy curry but it really was, in a way it seemed easier than the timing of pre making base, I really enjoyed the flow of making a curry this way, I will never worry about running out of base again.

Dan Toombs

Thursday 4th of August 2022

Great to hear and I am glad the chicken worked well too. Thanks Dan

Skip to Recipe