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.
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.
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!
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!
- Kashmiri chili powder – or cayenne
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs – cut into 1-inch pieces
- Lemon juice – for finishing
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.
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.
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!
I hope that you enjoy!
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.
Looking for More Delicious Indian-Inspired Recipes?
- Perfect Instant Pot Butter Chicken Curry
- Irresistible Red Lentil Curry
- Instant Pot Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks
- Roasted Indian Fish and Creamy Curried Cauliflower
- Indian Grilled Chicken
- Quick Shrimp Rogan Josht with Saffron Basmati Rice
Easy Madras Chicken Curry Recipe
- ¼ cup ghee or oil
- 1 cup chopped red onion about half a large onion
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 5-6 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
- 30 ounces diced tomatoes 2 – 15 ounce cans
- 15 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder or cayenne
- 1 ½ – 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 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.
Making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram and tag @ASpicyPerspective so we can share what you’re cooking!