Easy Chicken Madras 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 Chicken Curry Recipe - Madras curry in a Dutch oven with more in a bowl next to some naan bread.

Why We Love This 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 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.

Madras Curry with chicken in a bowl with cilantro on top.

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 Masala 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 in several different ways, with the resulting dish usually consisting of a deep red-colored, rich and spicy sauce.

Madras Curry vs. Other Indian Curries

Where does that beautiful red color and heat come from?

Most Indian 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 masala powder punches up the typical curry spice blend by including red chillies or a combination of chili and paprika. The resulting flavor with the added red chili is quite spicy, which works beautifully with creamy coconut milk and fresh herbs.

Both traditional yellow curries and Madras masala 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!

Easy Chicken Curry in a silver bowl next to naan bread and a dutch oven.

Ingredients You Need

There is 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 Chicken Madras Recipe:

  • Vegetable Oil or ghee – aka clarified butter
  • Red onion – chopped
  • Cilantro – chopped
  • Garlic Cloves – minced
  • Fresh ginger – grated
  • Diced tomatoes – canned, or use a tomato puree if you don’t want tomato chunks
  • Unsweetened coconut milk – canned
  • Madras curry powderyou should be able to find this at your local grocery store, or it is often supplied at Whole Foods. If you can’t find it, you can also order it online!
  • Garam masala – get our easy recipe to make your own blend!
  • Salt
  • Kashmiri chili powder – or cayenne
  • Skinless Boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces, or you can use chicken breasts if preferred
  • Lemon juice – for finishing
Indian Spices and ingredients for the best Madras Chicken Curry Recipe

How To Make Madras Curry

Traditional Indian curries often require many different ingredients, cooked in layers over long periods 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 ground spices and creamy coconut milk to make the best Madras chicken curry!

Here’s how to make our terrifically easy Madras-style Chicken Curry Recipe:

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

Spices and aromatics in a dutch oven being sautéed and stirred with a wooden spoon.

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

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

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

Easy Chicken Curry Recipe - Raw chicken to be simmered in the madras curry in a dutch oven.

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

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

Easy Madras Curry in pot with curry chicken and Madras Masala spices

Serving Suggestions

This spicy chicken 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.

Tips & Variations

  • You can use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs, but make sure you don’t overcook the chicken! Chicken breast is more prone to drying out when overcooked. You can also use chicken pieces with the bone in, if you prefer. Cooking time will vary!
  • This curry recipe is spicy due to the Madras curry powder along with the Kashmiri chili powder or cayenne pepper. If you are sensitive to spice, only add a dash of cayenne or Kashmiri chili powder and then add more if needed.
  • If preferred, you can use strips of beef instead of chicken!
Easy Madras Chicken in a bowl next to a dutch oven full of curry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Madras really spicy?

Madras curry is typically pretty spicy, but not so spicy that the average person can’t enjoy it! If you are sensitive to spicy foods, Madras curry might not be for you! You can try my butter chicken curry for a mild curry experience instead.

Why is it called Madras curry?

Madras curry is said to have originated in the city of Madras, which is now called Chennai.

Can I make this a vegetarian or vegan curry?

Yes! This easy curry chicken 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 recipe for madras curry is a great dish to add to your make-ahead meal plan. The flavors of the Madras curry will continue to deepen as all of the components sit together.

Keep the 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 recommend freezing leftovers.

Madras-style chicken curry in a bowl next to naan bread.

Looking for More Delicious Indian-Inspired Recipes? Be Sure to Also Try:

Check the printable recipe card below for the prep time, total time, and nutritional information.

Easy Madras Chicken Curry Recipe
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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 the lemon juice into the curry. Then spoon over basmati rice and serve with 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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