Beef Madras Curry Recipe | Takeaway Favourites
This easy beef madras curry recipe will help you recreate the wonderful UK takeaway favourite, the fiery, sour beef madras! If you fancy an authentic looking bowl in which to serve your dish, you’ll find something perfect right here. (The previous was an affiliate link to a product for which I earn commission per purchase.)
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I’m currently working my way through some of the classic Indian takeaway dishes we love so much here in the UK. After spending years in pursuit of the perfect, authentic curry, I’ve recently come to realise those classic British-Indian (Brindian?) dishes are a tradition in their own right!
Amongst those popular dishes are the Chicken Pasanda and the Rogan Josh. Both of which I had already made recipes for. Although my recipes are absolutely based on the original dishes in India, rather than the versions we do here.
This exploration has meant a rethink of many of the UK’s most popular dishes. For example, I recently put together this recipe for a beautiful Chicken Jalfrezi. That gave me really good cause to look more deeply at a dish I hadn’t ordered in many years.
Also on the list of upcoming dishes are a the UK’s national dish, the Chicken Tikka Masala. And, of course, Birmingham’s very own Balti!
And then there’s this Beef Madras.
About the dish
The madras curry as we know it today cannot be strictly traced back to any specific dish. At least not directly. Instead, it can be traced back to a location, where a great number of curries would have been made and consumed. But this is how we, here in the UK, interpreted the curries of that part of India.
Madras, in fact, is the former name of a city in India now known as Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. I actually have a Chennai recipe coming up soon as well, but that’s a story for another day!
A coastal area, the dish exhibits many of the traits of other dishes from coastal parts of India. The inclusion of Tamarind, for example, is something you tend to see in curries from places like Goa, another coastal part of the country. The dish, in fact, has many things in common with the vindaloo, a Portugese-come-Indian dish whose Indian variety traces its origin all the way back to Goa.
Just like the famed Goan vindaloo, for which my own recipe can be found right here, the dish is spicy, sour, tomato based and filled with beef. Also just like a vindaloo, a Madras would be well suited to fish or the far more common chicken or lamb.
About this dish
This version of the dish uses beef. Beef isn’t commonly used in India, largely due to religious influences all over the country. However, this beef madras curry recipe assumes a more UK-centric approach. After all, the dish is in reality a British interpretation of a variety of dishes first encountered in Chennai. It isn’t a specific dish native to a specific place and as such, I think a little flexibility with the rules is forgivable.
The sourness comes from tamarind. I have incorporated quite a lot of tamarind in this recipe. It brings a fruitiness and sourness that makes the dish what it is. You could also emphasize the tamarind with a splash of vinegar, but I haven’t here. Instead, a little bit of lime juice is added at the end to brighten everything up and bring the dish to life.
The only other thing I can say about my beef madras curry recipe is that I have chosen not to blend the sauce. I like a bit of bite and a bit of texture. If you want to blend the sauce, you’ll end up with something a bit more in keeping with the takeaway approach to Indian cooking!
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We will begin by getting everything ready, so that when we come to cook, it will be nice, quick and simple. The first step is to peel and finely dice the onions and set them aside, then to crush the garlic, chop the ginger and blend them into a paste.
Next up is setting aside our spices. We will be using a few whole spices, including fennel seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods and coriander seeds, so we will toast them on a high heat in a dry pan and then grind them into a fine powder. Then we’ll mix them together with fenugreek powder, turmeric powder and some chilli powder, then set them aside. We will also be using mustard seeds, but they will go in separately.
We will also dice up our meat and an aromatic or two, like a bay leaf and some green chillies.
Then it’s time to cook. We’ll start off by searing the meat and setting it aside. Then we’ll cook the onions on a low temperature in some oil or ghee, caramelising them over the course of several minutes to soften and sweeten.
We’ll add our dry spices, followed by our curry paste, cooking both out a little in the fat and then adding our liquid, in this case chopped tomatoes. This is the point at which we might blend the sauce if desired. Otherwise, in goes the bay leaf and the meat.
Then it’s simply a case of cooking the dish for about an hour and a half to 2 hours. Long enough to braise the meat and thicken the sauce After that, we’ll season and stir in some tamarind paste, before adding a tiny bit of lime juice to bring that flavour all the way out.
A few final things to remember
- Adjust the amount of chilli to suit your tastes. It’s a naturally fiery dish, but if you don’t fancy the heat, reducing it will work just fine. There are lots and lots of flavours in this beef madras curry recipe, so you’ll get away without the chilli.
- Much the same if you can’t get hold of any tamarind. Or even if you just can’t be bothered! Lime juice or even vinegar are a perfectly acceptable alternative.
- The fennel seeds can make way for star anise if preferred or if it’s simply what you have available.
Similar Recipes & Useful Sides
The Best Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh Recipe – An unexpected favourite, a childhood favourite in its grown up form. Rich, deep and incredible.
Passanda Sauce Recipe – An Authentic Leftover Chicken Curry – The sexiest, creamiest, butteriest, chickeniest curry I’ve ever made and an absolute personal favourite.
Rezala – A Creamy, Nutty Curry with Cashews & Chilli– Just the coolest damned curry I can think of right now. Creamy and nutty like the very best of the Northeastern Indian dishes, yet booming with chilli like the dishes from the South.
The Best Indian Flatbread Recipe – The best Indian flatbreads you’ve ever seen. Seriously.
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Beef Madras Curry Recipe
- 1 tbsp Ghee or Oil neutral oil
- 400 g Beef any braising cut
- 1 lrg White Onion
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 1-2 inches Fresh Ginger
- 2 tsp Chilli Powder
- 1/2 tsp Fenugreek Powder
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
- 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 3 tsp Tamarind Paste
- 4 Cardamom Pods
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 4 Green Chillies
- 1 can Chopped Tomatoes
- Lime Juice
- Peel and finely dice the onion and set aside.
- Peel and chop the garlic and ginger, then grind them into a paste and set them aside.
- In a hot, unoiled pan, toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom pods, just for a minute or two until they go brittle, but without burning. Then grind them into a fine powder and mix them with the turmeric, chilli powder and fenugreek powder. You may need to pick out any large pieces of cardamom shell that won't break down, but you don't have to.
- Dice and season your meat.
- In a large, hot, well oiled (or gheed) pan, sear the meat all over, then set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and top up the oil or ghee, then caramelise the onions for about 10 minutes, until they go very soft and sweet. A little salt will help the process along. After the first five, add the mustard seeds as well.
- Now add the spice powder and mix it in, cooking for a couple of minutes.
- Add the paste and stir in for about a minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and stir everything together.
- (Optional) Blend everything together and return to the pot.
- Add the meat, whole chillies and a bay leaf, then cook on a low-medium heat for 1.5 – 2 hours, until the meat is braised and the sauce is nice and thick. If the meat isn't fully braised by the time the sauce has reduced, top up with a little water. Stir regularly while it cooks to make sure nothing sticks.
- Pick out your bay leaf and add the tamarind sauce. As much as you feel the dish needs. If you want to bring even more sour flavours out of the dish, a little lime juice will work very well.
- Adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve with rice or naan.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe or have any comments or queries, please do let us know in the comments section below! And don’t forget to like and share!