Chicken Madras
Chicken Madras
5 from 78 votes
Instead of ordering takeout, make this homemade chicken madras. This easy family dinner is rich and fragrant, with a fiery kick in every bite. A delicious curry with a thick masala, that is ideal for scooping up with naan.
Chicken Madras

Chicken Madras. Just the name sends my senses on a delightful journey. Dive into the history of this dish, and you’ll find yourself amidst the bustling streets of South India.

Madras, now known as Chennai, boasts a rich culinary heritage, and this recipe is a shining star in its crown.

Originally, it was designed to cater to the British palate during colonial times, blending rich spices with succulent chicken pieces. The love affair with this dish was instant and travelled from India to British curry houses in no time.

While many would shy away from a dish thinking it’s too complicated, I’ll spill a secret: Chicken Madras isn’t all that hard to make. I’d rate its difficulty level as moderate. With the right ingredients and a pinch of love, you’ll be whipping up this dish like a pro in no time!

The diversity of this dish is worth mentioning. There’s the creamy Madras, the fiery-hot Madras, and even vegetarian versions replacing chicken with paneer or vegetables. Each variation carries its charm, but the base always remains true to its roots – a melody of spices and rich flavours.

Now, for the curious souls wondering about the ingredients, they are simple yet quintessential.

The combination of spices like ground coriander, cumin, and garam masala gives the dish its signature aroma and taste. Add the heat from chili powder, the warmth of turmeric, and the sweet undertones of paprika, and you have a symphony of flavours playing on your palate.

Of course, the preparation and cooking process is equally vital. Slow-cooking is the key, letting every spice, every ingredient, slowly merge and mingle, giving Chicken Madras its unique flavour profile.

I’d urge every culinary enthusiast to try making Chicken Madras at least once. Not just for its taste, but for the experience. The process is therapeutic, the aromas uplifting, and the final dish? Simply divine.

If you’re a fan of Indian curries or just love a good chicken dish, the Chicken Madras is one for the books. Whether you serve it with a side of steaming rice or a fluffy naan bread, every bite is a promise of an explosion of flavours. Ready to embark on this flavourful voyage? Let’s dive in!

What Ingredients to Use & Why

Every dish has its soul, and in the case of Chicken Madras, it’s the meticulously chosen ingredients that give it its distinctive character.

Dive deep into the essence of each ingredient and you’ll discover how they contribute to the melody of flavours in this iconic dish. Let me take you on a tour of these culinary stars and their role in this symphony.

Chicken: As the main ingredient, chicken provides the dish with its hearty protein base. It absorbs the flavours of the spices beautifully, ensuring each bite is flavourful.

While chicken is the staple, for those seeking a vegetarian alternative, paneer or tofu can work wonders, soaking up the masalas and providing a rich texture.

Onion: Ah, the humble onion. Finely chopped, it serves as the foundation for the curry. The slow sautéing process caramelizes it, bringing out its natural sugars and adding a subtle sweetness that balances the spicy notes. Shallots can be an alternative here, offering a milder, more refined taste.

Garlic: Garlic adds depth. Minced and melded with the onion, it introduces a pungent kick, which is integral to the rich base of the curry. If you’re looking to switch things up, you might consider garlic paste for a smoother blend.

Vegetable Oil: It’s more than just a medium for cooking. Vegetable oil ensures all ingredients are sautéed to perfection, releasing their essential flavours. Olive oil or even ghee can be alternatives, each introducing their unique profile to the dish.

Ground Spices: This is where the magic lies. Coriander, cumin, and garam masala come together to offer that quintessential Indian flavour. The spices add warmth, aroma, and a rich earthiness. If you’re in a bind, a generic curry powder can be used, but the distinctiveness might be compromised.

Turmeric & Paprika: Turmeric brings in a golden hue and earthy notes, while paprika provides sweetness and colour. They’re both essential for the dish’s visual and taste appeal. In a pinch, saffron strands might be used for colour, but sparingly due to its potent nature.

Chili Powder: Here’s the heat! Chili powder decides how fiery your Chicken Madras will be. Adjust to your palate, but remember, a little goes a long way! Cayenne pepper can be a viable alternative if you’re looking for an intense kick.

Tomatoes & Tomato Paste: They add tanginess and body to the curry. The paste, being concentrated, provides a deeper, richer tomato flavour, ensuring the curry isn’t too watery. Sun-dried tomatoes blended into a paste can offer a more robust, tangy alternative.

Coriander: Fresh coriander leaves for garnish not only beautify the dish but also introduce a refreshing, citrusy undertone. If unavailable, parsley can be a garnishing alternative, though the taste profile will slightly differ.

Embarking on a cooking journey requires a thorough understanding of each ingredient’s role. In the world of Chicken Madras, every ingredient sings its song, creating a harmonious dish that’s hard to resist.

Remember, it’s not just about following a recipe, but understanding the why and how of it. That’s when the true culinary magic happens.

Unlocking the Secret Spices Behind Chicken Madras

Whenever I dive into the process of making Chicken Madras, it feels like I’m deciphering an ancient secret, handed down through generations.

The symphony of spices used in this dish is nothing short of a culinary masterpiece. And as someone who’s been on a perpetual journey of discovering the magic of flavours, I find the spices in Chicken Madras especially fascinating.

Starting with ground coriander, this little ingredient provides the foundational earthy note that harmonizes other spices in the dish. I’ve always found it intriguing how something so subtle can have such an influential role. It’s like the quiet leader in the group, often overlooked, but undeniably pivotal.

Then there’s the ground cumin. A bit nutty and peppery, this spice reminds me of the warmth of a cosy blanket on a chilly evening. Just a teaspoon, and it elevates the overall richness of the dish, giving it that classic Indian touch.

The bright yellow turmeric isn’t just there to add colour. Every time I sprinkle this golden spice into the pan, it adds a gentle bitterness and warmth. Beyond the taste, I love how it has countless health benefits, truly an Indian kitchen’s gold.

And oh, the chili powder! How can I forget? It’s like the unexpected twist in your favourite novel. It sneaks up on you, delivering that kick, making Chicken Madras the fiery delight it’s known for.

Paprika, for me, is the unsung hero. Mildly sweet and just a bit smoky, it adds an underlying depth that ties the flavours together. It’s like the base note in a perfume, often overshadowed but critically essential.

Last but not least, there’s garam masala. A blend of several spices, this one is the grand finale. The moment I add it, the dish comes alive. It’s like watching a black and white movie suddenly turn into colour.

Each spice, with its unique story, character, and charm, comes together in harmony, crafting the timeless classic that is Chicken Madras. The next time you find yourself in the kitchen, preparing this delicacy, pause and savour the dance of these spices. For in them lies the soul of the dish.

The Aesthetics of Serving Chicken Madras – A Feast for the Eyes

Food is an art form. Just as a painter has his canvas and colours, I have my plate and ingredients. Every time I prepare Chicken Madras, beyond the taste and aroma, I pay close attention to its presentation. Because believe me, the eyes eat first!

Choosing the right dish to serve Chicken Madras is like picking the right frame for a painting. The deep, rich colours of the curry stand out beautifully against a white or cream-colored dish. It creates a stark contrast, allowing the vibrant hue of the dish to truly shine.

Garnishing is where my creative side truly comes into play. That handful of fresh coriander isn’t just an afterthought.

Strategically placing it atop the curry, I ensure it adds a pop of green, breaking the monotonous red and brown. The leaves, with their delicate shape, introduce an element of freshness to the visuals.

Then there’s the sidekick – rice or naan bread. Whenever I lay a piece of naan next to the Chicken Madras, I make sure it’s fluffy and slightly charred. Those charred bits, contrasting against the smooth surface of the naan, add a rustic charm.

If it’s rice, I ensure the grains are separate, fluffy, and have a slight sheen. It acts as a gentle bed, cradling the spicy, rich Chicken Madras.

Accompaniments play a supporting role but are vital. A slice of lemon, a spoonful of yogurt, or a simple salad on the side not only provides a refreshing break from the spice but also adds colour and texture to the plate.

Every time I present Chicken Madras, it’s more than just serving food. It’s curating an experience. It’s about crafting a visual story, engaging the diner even before they take the first bite.

And when they do, after being entranced by the aesthetics, the taste becomes even more delightful. Always remember, food is not just about taste; it’s a multisensory experience. And Chicken Madras, with its rich colours and textures, offers an exquisite canvas to play with.

The Tomato’s Role in Chicken Madras – More than Just a Base

When I think of Chicken Madras, tomatoes immediately come to mind. Not as a mere ingredient, but as the backbone, the very foundation upon which this glorious dish stands. It’s amazing to think how this fruit (yes, it’s technically a fruit) transforms the curry, adding depth, tanginess, and a lovely hue.

Tomatoes have always intrigued me, especially in Indian cooking. In Chicken Madras, they don’t just serve as a base; they actively participate in shaping the curry’s character.

When the tomatoes simmer with the chicken and the spices, they break down, lending a luscious, velvety texture to the gravy. Every time I stir in those tomatoes, I can almost see the curry come alive, thickening and bubbling away to perfection.

The acidic nature of tomatoes works wonders in balancing the heat from the chili powder. It’s like a yin and yang situation.

The tanginess counteracts the spice, ensuring the curry doesn’t become overwhelmingly hot. This delicate balance is what makes Chicken Madras universally loved, even by those not too keen on fiery dishes.

Beyond the taste and texture, tomatoes bring a vibrant colour to the table. Chicken Madras, without tomatoes, would lack its signature reddish-brown hue. I’ve often found myself gazing at the curry, mesmerized by its rich colour, reminiscent of a sunset.

It’s not just about canned tomatoes, though. On occasions, I’ve played around with sun-dried tomatoes, which bring a deeper, more intense flavour. Or fresh, ripe tomatoes, which add a refreshing, natural sweetness to the curry.

The Magic of Garam Masala in Chicken Madras

Whenever I whip up a batch of Chicken Madras, there’s one ingredient I hold close to my heart: Garam Masala. Often dubbed the “magic spice” of Indian cuisine, Garam Masala adds an irreplaceable depth and warmth to the dish. A single teaspoon can transform the flavour profile in the most delightful manner.

Diving deeper into the world of spices, I’ve learned that Garam Masala isn’t a single spice but a blend. Each family, every region in India, has its own variation.

While some might lean heavily on cloves and cardamom, others might emphasize cumin or coriander. It’s this diversity within Garam Masala that makes it such a fascinating ingredient.

When I add Garam Masala to my Chicken Madras, it ties everything together. Those individual flavours of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili suddenly get this aromatic blanket that envelops them. It’s akin to the finishing touch, the last brush stroke on a canvas that brings the whole painting together.

The warmth of Garam Masala, stemming from ingredients like cinnamon and cloves, offers a comforting undertone to the Chicken Madras. On cold winter evenings, as I sit down with a bowl of this curry, it’s the warmth from the Garam Masala that feels like a hug.

Over the years, I’ve also experimented with adding the Garam Masala at different stages of the cooking process.

While some advocate for it to be one of the first spices in the pot, I’ve found that sprinkling it towards the end retains its aromatic richness, making every bite of the Chicken Madras an aromatic journey.

Unlocking the Aromatic Secrets of Chicken Madras with Garlic and Onion

It’s often said that good things come in pairs, and when I think of Chicken Madras, the dynamic duo of garlic and onion instantly springs to mind. While they might seem like humble kitchen staples, in the realm of Chicken Madras, they are the aromatic pillars upon which the curry stands.

Garlic, with its pungent aroma and distinctive taste, is an ingredient I’ve come to cherish. The moment it hits the hot oil, the entire kitchen gets enveloped in an enticing aroma.

And as it mingles with the chicken and spices in the pan, it lends a depth that’s unparalleled. The slightly sweet, nutty undertones of garlic are what give the Chicken Madras that addictive quality, making you go back for seconds, and sometimes even thirds.

On the other hand, the onion, often considered the unsung hero, plays its part with grace.

I’ve always found it fascinating how a crunchy, almost spicy raw onion transforms into something soft, sweet, and caramelized upon cooking. It’s this transformation that brings a natural sweetness to the Chicken Madras, balancing out the heat from the chili and the acidity from the tomatoes.

Whenever I prepare Chicken Madras, I give these two ingredients the time they deserve. Sautéing them slowly, watching as they change colour and meld into the oil, releasing their flavours. It’s therapeutic, almost meditative.

Over time, I’ve also played around with the form. While minced garlic and finely chopped onions are my go-to, there have been days when I’ve thrown in whole garlic cloves for a more pronounced flavour or used onion puree for a creamier texture.

I’ve come to realize that while spices, chicken, and tomatoes are crucial, it’s the symphony of garlic and onion that sets the base note.

They’re the foundation, the starting point of the flavour parade that Chicken Madras is known for. So, the next time you savour this dish, spare a thought for these two aromatic warriors, for they’re working tirelessly in the background, ensuring every bite is memorable.

Dancing with Turmeric in the Kitchen: The Golden Touch to Chicken Madras

Every time I craft a pot of Chicken Madras, there’s an ingredient that beckons like a golden beacon from my spice rack: turmeric. This vibrant yellow-orange spice isn’t just a pop of colour for the dish, but an age-old ingredient that brings a world of benefits and flavours to the plate.

Historically, turmeric has been the centrepiece in many Asian dishes, not just for its subtle, earthy flavour, but for its known health benefits.

When I first started exploring the wonders of this golden spice, I learned that it has been used in ancient Indian medicine, Ayurveda, for thousands of years. It’s known to have anti-inflammatory properties, and some even say it boosts the immune system.

But back to Chicken Madras. The moment turmeric is introduced to the hot oil, the entire curry takes on this rich golden hue, reminiscent of sunsets in tropical lands.

It’s almost as if you’re not just tasting the dish, but experiencing its visuals too. The slightly bitter, peppery taste of turmeric complements the zesty flavours of tomatoes and the robustness of the spices.

I’ve often been asked if the Chicken Madras would be the same without turmeric. While it might still be a delightful dish, turmeric gives it an authentic touch, linking it back to its Indian roots.

I’ve realized that less is more with turmeric. A teaspoon is all it takes to bring out its rich colour and flavour. Too much, and you risk overshadowing the other spices. But just the right amount, and you’ve got a dish that’s both visually stunning and tantalizing to the taste buds.

Tomato’s Red Symphony in Chicken Madras

If Chicken Madras were an orchestra, tomatoes would undoubtedly be the leading instrument. Every time I cook up this dish, I’m reminded of how crucial tomatoes are, setting the tone and the rhythm for everything else to follow.

Both canned tomatoes and tomato paste play pivotal roles in this culinary symphony. While the chicken is the star, it’s the tomatoes that give it the stage to shine. They bring a tangy zest to the mix, which contrasts beautifully with the rich, aromatic spices.

When I first started my Chicken Madras journey, I was amazed at how the tartness of tomatoes could tame even the fiercest spices.

Chili powder, with its scorching heat, meets its match in the cool, refreshing tomatoes. And not just chili – the tomatoes balance out the deep flavours of cumin, coriander, and garam masala, ensuring that no one spice dominates the palate.

Tomato paste, with its concentrated flavour, acts like a boost, intensifying the tomatoey goodness in the dish. It adds depth and richness, ensuring that every bite has that signature Chicken Madras tang.

There’s also a visual spectacle at play. As the tomatoes meld with the spices, the curry turns into this luscious red, a sight that instantly gets the taste buds dancing.

I’ve always believed that we eat with our eyes first, and the tomatoes ensure the Chicken Madras is as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the palate.

I’ve realized the importance of giving tomatoes their due time to cook. Letting them simmer until they’re soft and pulpy ensures the flavours are well-integrated. Rushing this step could mean a dish that’s good but not exceptional.

The Fiery Dance of Chili Powder in Chicken Madras

Chili powder! The very heart and soul of my Chicken Madras escapades. Every time I dive into creating this iconic dish, there’s a rush, a thrill, that comes from adding that pinch of fiery red.

But why is chili powder so indispensable to the Chicken Madras, you wonder? Let me take you on a spicy journey.

First, let’s talk about that rich colour. You see, long before the first bite, it’s the visual appeal of the dish that captivates. And that bold, beautiful red hue? It owes its brilliance to chili powder. The deep crimson, once mixed with tomatoes, creates a visual masterpiece that promises a symphony of flavours.

But it’s not just about the aesthetics. The heat of the chili powder, that delightful fiery kick, is the very essence of a good Chicken Madras. Every time I sprinkle it into the dish, I’m reminded of the bustling streets of Indian markets, where spices reign supreme and chili is the king.

The marriage of chili with other spices, especially turmeric and paprika, is a delicate dance.

Each spice brings its own unique flavour, and yet, the chili stands out, adding zest, elevating the dish from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Every mouthful promises a burst of warmth, a sensation that is both comforting and exhilarating.

And while I love the heat, I’ve also learned the importance of balance. Chicken Madras isn’t about scalding your taste buds but rather a warm embrace. It’s the kind of heat that is robust, lingering, but not overwhelming.

That’s the art – knowing just how much chili powder to sprinkle to get that perfect balance between warmth and flavour.

The Aromatic Symphony of Garam Masala in Chicken Madras

Garam Masala, which translates to “hot spices,” is a blend that holds a special place in my heart, especially when it comes to Chicken Madras. Now, it might not be the most visually dominant ingredient, but oh, the magic it weaves with its aroma and flavour is unparalleled.

Every time I open my jar of Garam Masala, I am transported. It’s a sensory journey across bustling Indian streets, past vendors with sacks full of spices, and into kitchens where age-old recipes are being prepared.

This blend, typically made up of spices like cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin, is a cornerstone of Indian cuisine, and of course, my beloved Chicken Madras.

When I first began experimenting with Chicken Madras, I realized the dish’s depth owed a lot to this aromatic blend.

Garam Masala doesn’t shout; it whispers, leaving a trail of warm, spicy, and slightly sweet notes with every bite. It’s like the final touch, the last brushstroke on a canvas, that ties everything together.

But there’s a trick to harnessing the power of Garam Masala. Add it too early, and its subtle nuances get lost.

Add it too late, and it might overpower. Over the years, I’ve found the sweet spot — just a teaspoon towards the end, giving it enough time to meld with the other flavours but not so much that it loses its charm.

What I love the most is how Garam Masala elevates the Chicken Madras from a mere dish to an experience. It’s not just about filling the belly but also the soul. It’s the aroma that fills the room, promising a feast. It’s the warmth that lingers long after the last bite.

In the grand tapestry of Chicken Madras, while other spices bring heat and colour, Garam Masala brings soul. It’s the silent maestro, orchestrating a symphony of flavours, ensuring every note, every flavour, is in perfect harmony.

Check Out These Other Recipes

When I simmered that Chicken Madras on my stove, it took me on a culinary journey straight to the heart of India. But wait, the magic doesn’t stop there.

Imagine the sensation of biting into juicy, spiced morsels of Chicken Tikka Masala, the fiery taste awakening every tastebud, leaving you craving more. Then there’s the rich, aromatic broth of the Chicken Curry that’s just begging to be scooped up with some freshly baked Naan bread.

You know, there’s something about Chicken Jalfrezi that tugs at my heart. It’s that perfect amalgamation of tender chicken chunks with bell peppers, cooked in a delectable tomato-based sauce.

A symphony of flavours in every bite. And speaking of irresistible flavours, let’s not forget about Chicken Biryani. A pot filled with fragrant long-grain rice layered with spicy chicken, and the aroma? Pure magic.

Finally, if you want to explore a spicy delight with a cooling accompaniment, try the Chicken Korma. Its creamy, nutty gravy paired with succulent chicken pieces is a match made in heaven.

After you’ve tried any of these dishes, I’d love to hear from you. How did they compare to the Chicken Madras? Which was your favourite? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and let’s keep the culinary conversations going!

Chicken Madras

Chicken Madras

by Nabeela Kauser
Instead of ordering takeout, make this homemade chicken madras. This easy family dinner is rich and fragrant, with a fiery kick in every bite. A delicious curry with a thick masala, that is ideal for scooping up with naan.
5 from 78 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 4
Calories 263 kcal


  • 600 g Chicken
  • 1 Onion Finely chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic Minced
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 400 g Tomatoes Canned
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 handful Coriander For garnish


  • Begin by heating the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the chopped onion and minced garlic for 4-5 minutes until they become tender.
  • Add the chicken to the pan and stir-fry for 5-7 minutes until it turns slightly brown, stirring occasionally.
  • Mix the tomato paste, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, chili powder, paprika, garam masala, and salt in the pan, and stir well to coat the chicken.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes, adding a splash of water if required to prevent the spices from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour the chopped tomatoes into the pan and stir to combine.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
  • Finish off by garnishing the dish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or naan bread.


Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done so merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 263kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 15gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 854mgPotassium: 504mgFibre: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 534IUVitamin C: 17mgVitamin D: 0.1µgCalcium: 68mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Chicken, Cooking, Curry, Food, Madras, Meat, Recipe, Spicy
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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Taylor Still
Taylor Still
11 months ago

5 stars
Looks really nice!


Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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