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Quick Lamb Madras

a metal bowl filled with lamb Madras Curry

This lamb Lamb Madras recipe will take no time at all to prepare (just 30 minutes).  I’ve developed the recipe using my Madras spice blend that I share in my spice course or eBook. However, I have given you some options if you want to make Madras using a supermarket blend.

Is Madras curry Hot?

Well, yes. Madras is usually quite a hot curry, although I make all my blends relatively mild because I have more control over each dish that way.  I use all the spices that would generally go into the specific blend but hold back on the heat a bit. It’s easy to add more heat, but not easy to take it away. Having a blend that’s not too hot is great for those who prefer flavour but not much heat. You can check out my spice blend eBooks here.

Classes if you are local (Melbourne) or Zooms from anywhere 🙂

Where does Madras come from?

Did you know that Madras is a British recipe?  You can ask for a Madras curry in India, but they may not know what you’re talking about. You see, it was “invented” by restaurants in Britain. The origin of what we call “Madras curry” is said to originate from the southern parts of India, in an area called Madras when the English merchants arrived there in 1640. Its name has been changed to Chennai, but the Madras curry lives on….

Ingredients used in my Madras recipe (and why)

  • Diced lamb: Lamb forequarter chops in a slow cooker are “melt in the mouth” tender and are definitely understated.  I use them for midweek meals but you can ask your butcher for lamb curry pieces if you like.
  • Madras Powder: As I’ve mentioned above, mine is not too hot, and I ramp up the heat by adding cayenne or chilli as I’m cooking if I desire a bit more heat.  Just be warned, if you grab a shop-bought one, it might be hot.
  • Onions: Onions are used in so many curries.  When they cook down, they add a beautiful richness to your dish. Most Indian recipes call for you to cook these off until they’re golden brown, this also adds some sweetness.
  • Tomato paste: Did you know it’s better to cook off your tomato paste a little before adding other liquids?  Have you ever tasted tomato paste before cooking it?  Next time you have a jar open, have a little taste.  It’s almost metallic in flavour.  If you’ve made a curry and feel it needs a touch more tomato, don’t go adding a dollop and stirring it through.  Cook it off first, and you’ll get a better result.  That’s why many recipes have you adding tomato paste (or any paste for that matter) to the pan earlier rather than later.  Cooking the paste will give you a much better taste.  
  • Fresh curry leaves: I’m lucky; I have a little tree and can grab some whenever I need them.  Did you know they can be frozen?  Next time you buy some and don’t get to use them all, stick them in the freezer.  Dried curry leaves are ok too, but they won’t give you that punch of flavour.
  • Stock: I prefer Chicken stock here, but you can use beef as well if you like.  If you’re a regular reader of my recipes, you’ll know that I also use continental stockpots, if I don’t have my own homemade stock.

Creamy Liquid: What is the best creamy liquid to use in your Madras curry?  In my classes, we make a blend.  We often use coconut and cashews just to show how easy and versatile this blend can be.

*The creamy liquid can alter the flavour of the dish quite a bit.  You have options depending on what you have in your fridge/cupboard.  For example, We need 400 ml for this recipe.

  1. You could use 200 ml of yoghurt with 200 ml coconut cream and 1 tsp of cornflour as a thickener
  2. 200 ml yoghurt with 200 ml water and two heaped tbsp coconut powder as a thickener
  3. If you want to go dairy-free, why not grind down cashews with a little water, and add that to some coconut milk or cream?  You’ll only need about 15 -20 cashews to make a paste. As long as you have 400 ml of liquid, you’ll be fine.  


Does your Madras curry have to be hot?

Well, it should be pretty warm to be called a Madras! But you’re the boss of your own kitchen.  So I say, do what you want!  I’ve made my spice blend up with less heat, but you could leave it out altogether if you want.  Give it a new name, and call it “your name here”, curry 🙂

What is the difference between a Madras and a Vindaloo?

Madras is usually made with more turmeric and therefore tends to be a bit on the yellow/orange side.  Even though chillis are used, a Vindaloo is a deeper red colour with more red chilli powder used.  Madras usually has yoghurt in the sauce, which helps combat the heat in the dish.  Even though Madras curries (purchased from a restaurant) tend to be on the hot side, the Vindaloo is hotter.  Vindaloo is considered the hottest of Indian curries.

What sort of meat do you use in a Madras Curry?

Most Madras curries are beef. However, I prefer lamb because you can get it soooo tender, and I like tender. But you cook even make it vegetarian by using sweet potato, go for it.

What can you serve your Madras with?

Alternative recipes:

a metal bowl filled with lamb Madras Curry

Quick Lamb Madras

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Madras is a British recipe and the name Lamb Madras isn't used in India. This Indian inspired creamy and spicy curry, is a well known favourite in many countries.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Difficulty Medium
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine British
Servings 4 with sides
Method Conventional


  • 400 g diced lamb
  • 10 g of Madras powder either Bec's from her spice blend eBook or a shop bought one
  • 2 medium onions sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped,
  • 1-2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 6 fresh curry leaves
  • 60 g ghee or oil
  • 200 g stock Chicken or Beef
  • 400 ml of a *creamy liquid. See my notes
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • There are many ways you can use these powders. One way is to make a paste from the powder by adding ½ an onion (from the two onions in the ingredient list), garlic and tomato paste to a food processor. Blitz to form a paste.
  • Add a knob of the ghee to a non-stick pan, add the paste and cook for about 2 – 3 mins remove and set aside.
  • Add the remainder of the ghee to the pan and throw in the curry leaves once they start to splutter add the meat in batches, brown and set aside with the paste. (When removing the meat, do it with a slotted spoon to leave as much ghee in the pan as possible)
  • In the same pan, brown the onions on a medium to medium-high heat till caramelised. This will take between 10 and 15 mins.
  • Add everything back into the large pot and on a low simmer cook for around 45 mins or until the meat is softened and the sauce reduced. (Add water if needed along the way) Taste it before serving and see if you have to balance the flavours a bit. You may need to add a tsp of brown sugar, or a pinch of salt.

Or Method 2

  • Add the 10 g of Madras powder to the meat folding through to coat then set aside.
  • In a pot ½ the ghee and set to a medium-high heat add the curry leaves and wait for them to sputter then add the sliced onions to the pan, stirring occasionally so as not to burn but caramelise.
  • Once the onions are nice and golden add the tomato paste, garlic and cook for a further 2 –3 mins then set aside
  • Add the remainder of the ghee bring to a high heat and brown the meat in batches setting aside as you go with the onion mix.
  • Add everything back to the pot along with the remainder of the ingredients and simmer till the meat is soft and tender. Taste it before serving and see if you have to balance the flavours a bit. You may need to add a tsp of brown sugar, or a pinch of salt.
  • Serve with a sprinkle of chopped coriander or parsley.


*The creamy liquid can alter the flavour of the dish quite a bit. You have options depending on what you have in your fridge/cupboard. For example, you could use 200 ml of yoghurt with 200 ml coconut cream and 1 tsp of cornflour for a thickener
200 ml yoghurt with 200 ml water and 2 heaped tbsp coconut powder
if you want to go dairy-free why not grind down cashews with a little water, as long as you have 400 ml of liquid you’ll be fine. You’ll only need about 15 -20 cashews.

Where can you find my spice blend eBook?

If you’d like to grab my spice blend ebook, you can check it out here.

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