Lamb Madras Curry Recipe

A Lamb Madras Curry in a British Indian Curry House has become synonymous with a fiercely hot curry and not much else. Not my version which packs many more complex flavours but still keeps a punch of heat from chilli and black pepper.

Portrait image of lamb madras curry served with white rice and chapatis served on a black plate

Lamb Madras Curry.

I love this lamb curry recipe, it is a real treat as lamb is a relatively expensive meat. This recipe adds lots of big flavours but ensures that the lamb still sings through as the base flavour for the dish.

It retains a fierce heat from the dried chilli, I use cayenne and lots of black pepper.

All of it tempered with coconut milk, you can use the more typical yoghurt if you want.

The cut of meat I choose for this lamb curry is typically shoulder, although you could use leg if you wanted to… If you have mutton then please use it because the flavour is really amped up.

Just cook it on low for a couple of hours, rather than one hour.

The name Madras Curry is not really used in India and it is a name that came from Bangladeshi Indian restaurants in the 1970’s.

My recipe is an ode to the curries I grew up eating in the 80’s and 90’s.

Square overhead image of lamb madras curry served with white rice and chapatis served on a black plate

How Hot Is a Madras Curry?

Individual tolerance to spice from chilli is so personal so this is a difficult question to answer.

We can, however, look at it in terms of comparison to other curry recipes.

A madras curry would be considered a curry at the hotter end of the spectrum.

On the spice scale, it typically sits between a jalfrezi curry and a vindaloo curry.

If you do struggle with chilli a great way to calm down the burn is bread.

I would most definitely insist on a chapati to be served with this Madras curry!

Square image of lamb madras curry served with white rice and chapatis served on a black plate

Cooking With Whole Spices!

If you are a relative newcomer to cooking with whole spices you may wonder “why bother”?

Surely some ground spices would work or even a madras curry spice blend.

Well yes, they would work… However, they will never give you a flavour profile quite like whole spices.

Once you grind spices the begin to lose their flavour much quicker than whole seeds.

This means that whole seeds have a much longer shelf life and it does not matter how you store your ground spices… They will never last as long! 

They also deteriorate at a different rate, so that spice bland that may have left the factory with a good mix will change over time.

Most importantly toasting those whole seeds unlocks a level of flavour that you just cannot replicate with ground spices.

Landscape overhead image of lamb madras curry served with white rice and chapatis served on a black plate

British Indian Curry Recipes.

I am not really all that interested in replicating authentic recipes when it comes to food.  

I want food that makes me and more importantly my wife smile and this certainly does that.

A British Indian curry makes no attempt at being an authentic Indian Curry.

It is a cuisine developed by migrants to a new country. Embracing both an older food history and what is available in their new home.

I have to say as fully-fledged migrant never have I understood British Indian food more than I do today!

You should definitely check out a few of my favourites!

It is not fusion food, it is a new food, filled with love for the past and curiosity of the present!

Landscape image of lamb madras curry served with white rice and chapatis served on a black plate
Lamb Madras Recipe

Lamb Madras Recipe

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

My Lamb Madras curry is an ode to the Bangladeshi British Indian restaurants of the 1980's... Featuring a spicy sauce made from freshly toasted spices and using coconut milk rather than yoghurt to temper the spicy burn!

Ingredients

  • 400 g Lamb Shoulder, Diced
  • 1/2 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1/2 Tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1/4 Tsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • 2 Cloves
  • 2 Dried Red Chili Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 100 g Onion
  • 20 g Ginger
  • 6 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 150 ml Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp Garam Masala

Instructions

  1. Cut the onion into a medium dice and crush the garlic into a paste.
  2. Grate the ginger.
  3. Heat a heavy-based dry pan that has a lid over a medium high heat.
  4. Add the coriander seeds, peppercorns, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, cloves, and dried chili, then toast until they become fragrant.
  5. When the spices are toasted crush them into a fine powder in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.
  6. Add the oil to the pan.
  7. When hot cook the onion until they begin to colour which should take 5-6 minutes.
  8. Add in the garlic and ginger and cook for a further minute.
  9. Now add in the lamb and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  10. Stir in the tomato puree, coconut milk, ground spices from step 5, and salt.
  11. Cover and allow to cook for 1 hour over a very low heat.
  12. After 1 hour remove the lid and reduce the remaining liquid to form a thick sauce.
  13. Remove from the heat and stir in the garam masala and allow to sit for 2 minutes before serving.

Notes

Serve with boiled rice and chapati and maybe a beer if you want the full British curry house experience.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 604 Total Fat: 41g Saturated Fat: 19g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 19g Cholesterol: 128mg Sodium: 747mg Carbohydrates: 18g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 4g Protein: 44g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

48 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. Thanks for this recipe Brian. The simple steps in the video and the look of the end result really made me want to try it…and I don’t normally have anything hotter than a tikka masala!

    I’ve made this recipe pretty much exactly how you described, apart from substituting the dried chilli for crushed chilli as I couldn’t find it. It was amazing with boiled rice and roti. I’m going to try your Chettinad chicken next!

    • Glad you enjoyed it Craig… The Chettinad chicken recipe is one of my favourite curries, although I think it is hotter than this Madras, primarily because it uses lots of black pepper which is a very different heat to chilli but everyone perceives spice heat very differently. You can always eat more naan or roti to cool down. Enjoy 😀

  2. I must say you are a great cook Brian. This looks incredibly tempting. Being an Indian I must say you have nailed the Indian style of cooking, that color, the texture of the curry and everything about the dish just looks perfect 🙂 It’s not easy to achieve!! Loved going through your blog 🙂

  3. Wow this was soooooo delicious. Hot, yes, but that might e because I threw in an extra chilli or two. Best curry I’ve made in a long time. Thank you! Am going to try your other recipes without delay….

    • Thanks Lynne… Glad you like it, if you want a recommendation take a look at my chicken pathia recipe, it is my favourite 😀

  4. Brian,

    I was apprehensive over this dish at first because the spices can be overwhelming and not for the faint hearted. Needless to say, I doubled everything because I was feeding two men (American). They loved it and went for seconds; perspiring ofclurse. I (indian), on the other hand, was not even half way done with my first- I was the faint hearted one… BUT I can’t tell you enough how delicious this was. I want to make it again and I can’t wait to make Rogan Josh. Thank you for this brilliant, yet simple recipe.

    • Thanks for taking the time to write to me Khilna, I love hearing from people that have tried my recipes and I am so glad you loved it. This is one of my most popular recipes and indeed one of my personal favourites. Have fun with the Rogan Josh 🙂

  5. I am a huge ‘Hairy-biker Curry’ lover but a colleague put me onto this recipe and I have to say I am borderline addicted. So much so I am cooking after work – a rarity for me. Thank you very much for sharing, you have saved me from ‘after work takeaway syndrome’!

    • You are welcome Fran… The thought that folk are discussing my recipes somewhere out there in the big wide world makes me smile greatly 🙂

  6. Just like to say what a superb recipe this is, absolutely Anglo-Indian and absolutely on the money. I’ve grown up eating curry throughout the Uk and this is reminiscent of any great restaurant or take away, real depth of flavour and a beautiful balance of spice. I love cooking all cuisines but find good Indian recipes hard to find, thanks for this one Mr Brian Jones ! I coupled with some nans made in the most unusual way (upside down in a pan) as authentic in result as the madras by a guy named h4ppyleader on YouTube. Fascinating method with great results, a perfect match to your curry.

    • Cheers James, so glad you enjoyed it… Indian food is very close to my heart or more precisely my belly. I’ll definitely hunt down that naan recipe, I personally use a pizza steel for cooking my naan 😀

  7. Brilliant curry, made it as a trial run for a curry night with friends. It tastes wonderful, so much flavour, not just heat but so authentic, well, better. The meat tastes so good, you can even get the whole lamb flavour with spice without anyone flavour being too dominant, love, love, love this recipe and so will our guests.

    • Thanks Willow… It never fails to raise a huge smile when I hear from someone who enjoys my food! I hope it is as popular with your guests 😀

  8. Just finished prepping and about to start cooking nut I’m unsure what I’m supposed to add on step 3? It’s probablys me being thick.

  9. I think there’s too much emphasis on authenticity sometimes. This recipe both sounds and looks wonderful. The lighting is just beautiful!

    • I’m with you on authenticity, most of my ‘Indian’ food is actually Anglo Indian and has it’s roots in the Indian communities that moved to Britain in the 50’s & 60’s but also hints to some of the Indian flavours bought back from the ‘Raj’ back in the Victorian era… All I really care bout is if it makes me make a satisfied noise when eating 😉

    • Thanks Whitney, I often find them challenging to photograph lets face it they taste great but often are pile of brown food which is always difficult to photograph.

  10. Brian, you really are such an inspiration to us food bloggers. Your recipes are gorgeous and your photography is simply amazing. Thanks for sharing another wonderful part of you. Cheers!

  11. My sister moved to Chennai this past summer — i’m dying for her to teach me some of the authentic dishes from the city/region.

    • Haha, I am definitely an Anglo Indian Curry kinda chap, I have been to INdia and Pakistan but the food is a little different although still recognisable.

  12. This is such a beautiful dish! I love curry anything, but don’t cook it too much — I have nearly all of these ingredients! May have to try this (with chicken though) — still getting around to lamb 🙂

  13. Such a beautiful dish Brian! I must confess that I don’t eat lamb (my husband loves it!), but I am a HUGE lover of curry 🙂 How do you think this would work with another meat? Maybe shredded beef or chicken?

    • Thanks Paige, I personally thing the sauce is too powerful for chicken, it becomes a texture and adds nothing but that to the dish but it works fabulously with beef, I like to use big chunks of shin of beef maybe 25mm-35mm dice but you could shred it down too 🙂

  14. Dog food I get but do you need cash if you’re not going anywhere 😀 I am not a huge fan of lamb, given that I overdosed on mutton in my childhood, but this recipe had my mouth watering. I may have to forego my stance and make it.

    • Haha, well one has to pay at the pub in some form, in all fairness she is happy to extend lines of credit but hey ho 😉 This dish works really well with a piece of beef that is good for stewing, think something like shin, it takes a little longer too cook and may need a splash of water to prevent it from drying out.

  15. Curries are the BEST. I like your take on this one, especially with your own dried chillies – that’s awesome. Love the photos too, they turned out great.

  16. Brian what a fabulous looking madras curry. Nice and hot for those that like it that way, that would be me! And such a great photo.

  17. Couldn’t agree with you more – who cares how authentic the curry is when it tastes (and looks) that good!!! I love a madras but it does have to be more than just super hot chilli. This recipe sounds fab. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous! We’re lucky to have some of the world’s finest lamb on our doorstep (Shetland lamb!) and I have a freezer full of it. Pinned to try later!

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