A Spicy Perspective

Easy Madras Chicken Curry Recipe

Easy Madras Chicken Curry – An easy chicken curry recipe that has the wonderfully deep flavors of a classic Indian curry, but is ready in less than an hour! Made with spicy Madras curry and creamy coconut milk, this zesty dish is perfectly rich and satisfying.

Easy Madras Chicken Curry Recipe

Deep, flavorful curries are among my favorite meals to enjoy after a long day. The intense aromatics completely fill the kitchen while cooking, and create a wonderful, satisfying warmth both in your home and belly.

The outside world just seems to melt away once you dig into a delicious bowl of rice completely covered with bright, hot, zesty and creamy curry!

This Easy Madras Chicken Curry Recipe is a bit spicier than standard yellow curries, and is perfect for those who really enjoy a kick of heat.

Bonus: Start to finish this recipe is ready in less than an hour, yet still achieves those intricate flavors you crave. You’ll love being able to make this spicy, scrumptious dish even on a busy weeknight.

Easy Chicken Curry Recipe

What is Madras Curry?

When I was younger, I spent three separate summers in India, living and working in a few different villages and cities throughout the region. During these trips I often had the opportunity to learn many Indian recipes and cooking methods first-hand, and different curries were by far the most commonly made main and side dishes. Madras curry has quite an interesting backstory, and is among my favorite variations of a traditional yellow curry.

Madras curry originated in southern India and became popular among British colonizers and merchants during the 1600s, but the name “Madras curry” actually didn’t come about until it was introduced to British restaurants in the 1970s. Over the years it has been developed and reimagined several different ways, with the resulting dish usually consisting of a deep red-colored, rich and spicy sauce.

Madras Curry vs. Regular Curry

Where does that beautiful red color and heat come from?

Most regular curries consist of a blend of toasted vibrant spices, including fresh curry leaves, turmeric, coriander, cumin, ginger, and cardamom. They tend to be yellow in color, with just a hint of spice and lots of savoriness.

While the specific spices involved can tend to vary, Madras curry punches up the typical curry spice blend by including red chili or a combination of chili and paprika. The resulting flavor is quite spicy, which works beautifully with the creamy coconut milk and fresh herbs.

Both traditional yellow curries and Madras curry also tend to include garam masala, which is a mixture of all or some of the following roasted spices: cumin, coriander, green and black cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, fennel, mace and dried chilies. It’s surprisingly easy to make your own roasted garam malsa blend right at home!

Chicken Curry Recipe

Ingredients You Need

There is really no limit to the different types of curries that can be made, each with its own unique blend of spices and utilizing whatever preferred proteins and produce are available.

Here are the ingredients to make our Easy Madras Chicken Curry recipe:

  • Oil or ghee – aka clarified butter
  • Red onion – chopped
  • Cilantro – chopped
  • Garlic – minced
  • Fresh ginger – grated
  • Diced tomatoes – canned
  • Unsweetened coconut milk – canned
  • Madras curry powder
  • Garam masala – get our easy recipe to make your own blend!
  • Salt
  • Kashmiri chili powder – or cayenne
  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs – cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Lemon juice – for finishing
Indian Spices

How to Make Easy Madras Chicken Curry

Traditional Indian curries often require many different ingredients, cooked in layers over long periods of time to build those complex flavors we know and love.

However, I’ve figured out how to achieve that same depth in a fraction of the time by using a flavorful blend of spices and creamy coconut milk.

Here’s how to make our terrifically easy Madras Chicken Curry recipe:

1. First, set a large dutch oven (or saucepot) over low heat. Add the ghee or oil, chopped red onion, cilantro, minced garlic, and grated ginger. Sauté for several minutes until the onions are very soft, stirring occasionally.

Saute the Spices

2. Then, add the Madras curry powder, garam masala, salt, and Kashmiri chili powder. Stir and sauté another few minutes until fragrant.

3. Raise the heat to medium, and stir in the tomatoes and coconut milk. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Next, stir the chopped chicken pieces into the sauce. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Simmer the Chicken Curry

5. Lastly, add a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro to finish the dish. Stir in the lemon juice just before serving.

Get the Complete (Printable) Easy Madras Chicken Curry Recipe Below. Enjoy!

Easy Madras Curry

This spicy Madras curry recipe is wonderful over a heaping scoop of freshly made Basmati Rice with lots of fluffy, crispy Naan bread on the side for dipping and sopping up every bit of sauce.

Help cool your palate down with a cold glass of iced Authentic Chai Tea and serve this Zucchini and Green Chutney Salad on the side for extra refreshment.

I hope that you enjoy!

Easy Madras Chicken

Can I Make This a Vegetarian or Vegan Curry?

Yes! This easy curry recipe is already dairy free if you use oil instead of ghee, so you just need to substitute the chicken with chickpeas and potatoes to create a vegetarian-friendly and vegan-friendly dish.

Is This a Good Make Ahead Recipe?

This is a great recipe for your make ahead meal plan. The flavors of the Madras curry will continue to deepen as all of the components sit together.

Keep leftovers stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. You can either keep leftover rice stored separately to reheat and enjoy with the curry, or quickly make fresh rice when ready to eat.

Because of the coconut milk, I do not recommending freezing leftovers.

Easy Curry

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Easy Madras Chicken Curry Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Easy Madras Chicken Curry – An easy chicken curry recipe that has the wonderfully deep flavors of a classic Indian curry, but is ready in less than an hour! Made with spicy Madras curry and creamy coconut milk, this zesty dish is perfectly rich and satisfying.
Servings: 6 people



  • Set a large dutch oven (or saucepot) over low heat. Add the ghee, red onion, cilantro, garlic, and ginger. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes until the onions are very soft.
  • Meanwhile, cut the chicken thighs into 1-inch pieces.
  • Add the Madras curry powder, garam masala, salt, and Kashmiri chili powder. Stir and sauté another 5 minutes.
  • Raise the heat to medium. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir well, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir the chicken pieces into the sauce. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • When ready to serve, stir in the lemon juice. Serve with basmati rice and extra cilantro.


For Vegetable Madras Curry, omit the chicken and stir in diced potato and chickpeas.


Serving: 1cup, Calories: 698kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 45g, Fat: 52g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 279mg, Sodium: 611mg, Potassium: 910mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 507IU, Vitamin C: 18mg, Calcium: 85mg, Iron: 4mg
Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian

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12 comments on “Easy Madras Chicken Curry Recipe”

  1. We had some giant shrim in the freezer so I did shrimp instead of chicken this time. This will absolutely be in our line up from now on!

  2. Can I use Paneer and chicken? When should I add the Paneer? At the same time as the chicken or after?

  3. Pingback: A Taste of Paradise: Your Guide to the Best Coconut Recipes

  4. Do you drain the diced tomatoes or add the whole can in including the juices?

  5. Hi, I was searching for instant pot chicken curry recipes and came across this one. I see it’s not for the Instant Pot which is a shame, but I’m going to make it anyway and I’ll post a review of it later on. Do you have an instant pot version of this? I tried the search but came up with only this regular recipe. I could try and figure it out myself but I’d probably ruin it!

    • Hi Avis,

      I have not made this in the Instant Pot yet, so I don’t have true “tested” instructions for it. Sorry!

      However, based on another IP curry recipe on our site, I would say when you get to step 5, add 1 cup of water to the pot and pressure cook on HIGH for 7 minutes.

      If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out! :)


      • Hi, Sorry it took me so long to try this recipe with your suggestions for Instant Pot! I did as you said except I only added 1/2 cup of water as I have a mini instant pot. I did it for 7 minutes, and wasn’t sure about the release time so did it for 5 mins and then quick released. The flavour was lovely, smelled great but the “gravy” part was very thin, very soup-ey. I did try sauteing it and added some heavy cream that I had left over from our Thanksgiving (Canada) not a lot as it already had coconut milk in it. It didn’t do much. Bit like chicken and rice curry soup! Maybe I didn’t need the water? There was liquid from the tomatoes as well? Anyway I’d do it on the stove next time which is the first way I made it and it was pretty good as I recall. Thanks!

  6. I had everything except fresh cilantro and Madras curry powder so used the curry powder I had which was pretty spicy. I used regular onion, too. This was tasty and pretty easy. I don’t see why it wouldn’t freeze; I freeze leftover  coconut milk and in fact used it for this. 

  7. This is so flavorful! Love how easy it is to make!

  8. This will quickly become a favorite at my house! So delicious!