Easy Beef Madras curry made with lots of spices, yoghurt and coconut milk. Make it as spicy or as mild as you like by adjusting the chilli. If you’ve never ordered Madras in an Indian restaurant because you don’t like the heat, then this recipe is for you!
How spicy is Beef Madras?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hottest, a madras curry would rank an 8, with only Vindaloo and Phaall curries being hotter.
And that is why I would never order a Madras in an Indian restaurant. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a wimp where hot spicy flavours are concerned. I don’t believe food should hurt!
However, that said, the description of a beef madras curry on the menu at my local Indian restaurant, sounded delicious.
Tender chunks of beef cooked in yoghurt and coconut milk, with a blend of garlic and spices in an onion and tomato sauce (very hot)
So I decided to make my own at home, but reduce the heat by cutting down on the amount of chilli.
The result was amazing! The flavour of the spices coupled with the slightly sour tang from the yoghurt and the sweetness of the coconut was mind-blowingly delicious. The meat was fall-apart tender, and a piece of naan bread soaked up the delicious gravy perfectly.
Because I like a little sweetness, I added a side helping of peas and edamame beans, and a quick sambal made by chopping tomatoes, onions and coriander, and mixing with a little balsamic vinegar.
And because I’d adjusted the chilli to my own taste, it had the perfect amount of heat!
What ingredients do I need?
This recipe will feed 4 people and you can easily increase the amount of meat to feed more. You can get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions on the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
Beef (not pictured) – get good quality stewing beef. You need something like chuck, brisket or even topside, which has a lot of collagen, which will break down during the cooking process, leaving you with lovely tender pieces of meat. Allow 5 to 6 ounces (140 to 170 g) of beef per person depending on appetite.
Onion – the onion should be chopped very finely in a food processor, until it is about the size of a cooked grain of rice. If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the onion with a sharp knife.
A can of chopped tomatoes – use your favourite brand. Get tomatoes canned in plain tomato juice, not the ones flavoured with herbs.
Greek yoghurt – if you can’t get Greek yoghurt you can substitute with natural thick yoghurt.
Coconut milk – not to be confused with coconut cream with is a lot thicker. I normally buy my coconut milk in cans from my local supermarket.
Red or white wine vinegar – you can substitute this for any ‘fruity’ vinegar.
Brown sugar – to add a touch of sweetness
Garlic – you can use fresh cloves of garlic, which have been finely chopped (tip – chop them in the food processor with the onions). If you don’t have fresh, then you can use chopped garlic from a jar.
Flour – this is used to coat the meat before frying. If you cook with salt then you may like to add half a teaspoon of salt to the flour before coating the meat.
Sunflower oil (not pictured) – for frying.
Chopped fresh coriander (not pictured) – some will be stirred into the curry, and some will be used as garnish.
The following may look like a lot of spices, but believe me, they are not overpowering.
- dried cumin
- dried coriander
- ground turmeric
- garam masala
- ground cloves
- ground black pepper
- dried chilli flakes
The chilli is where the heat comes from. For my own personal taste I like to use half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes. This gives enough heat to produce a slight ‘burn’ but not enough to make the curry ‘blow-your-head-off’ spicy. Adjust this according to your own taste.
How to make beef madras curry
Fry the meat
- Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces (image 1 above) and coat in seasoned flour (image 2 above)
- Leave the meat to stand while you chop the onion and garlic in a food processor
- Now heat the oil in a frying pan and then fry the meat, stirring all the time, until it is nicely browned on all sides (image 3 above).
- Browning the meat in this way seals in the juices resulting in more tender meat. Don’t overcrowd the pan as this will cause the temperature of the oil to drop and the meat will release moisture and stew rather than brown. Fry the meat in two batches if necessary.
- Return the browned meat to the bowl while you fry the onions.
Make the curry
- Fry the onions and garlic in the same pan until they start to soften. You may need to add another splash of oil. Fry the onions slowly and don’t allow them to brown. Covering the pan with a lid and leaving them on a low heat will help them to soften more quickly.
- While the onions are softening, measure all the spices into a small dish and then tip them all at once into the onions.
- Stir well to coat the onions thoroughly and let the spices and onions cook for a further minute (image 1 above).
- Now tip in the canned tomatoes, the brown sugar and the vinegar. Stir well and bring to the boil (image 2 above).
- Stir in the yoghurt and the coconut milk and add the browned meat, and any remaining flour from the bowl.
- Cover with a lid and leave to simmer on a gentle heat for 1 and a half hours.
- If the sauce is too thin, remove the lid for the last 15 minutes, to allow some of the liquid to evapourate.
- If the sauce starts to dry out, add additional yoghurt and coconut milk, or even a little stock made by dissolving a beef or vegetable stock cube in one cup of boiling water.
- 5 minutes before the cooking time is up, stir through the chopped coriander (image 4 above).
- The sauce should be very thick, and it may look slightly curdled. Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal.
How do I serve this curry?
You should serve beef madras curry with white rice and naan bread (see other recipes below).
I like the sweetness from peas and edamame beans so I tend to add those as a side. Of course this is totally optional. If you’d like to try it, just mix equal quantities of frozen peas and edamame beans in a microwave safe bowl, add a teaspoon of butter and a sprinkling of salt. Cover with clingfilm and microwave on high for 90 seconds.
For an even more substantial dish, serve with saag aloo (see other recipes below) and/or bombay potatoes.
A simple sambal made by mixing equal quantities of finely chopped tomatoes and onions, with a tablespoon of chopped coriander and moistened with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar also makes a nice accompaniment.
Can I freeze this curry?
Yes, beef Madras curry freezes well.
Allow it to cool and then ladle into suitable freezer containers. You can freeze this for up to 4 months.
To use, allow to defrost in the refrigerator and then transfer to a saucepan and heat thoroughly.
If you want to make this ahead of time, you can prepare it up to just before the chopped coriander is added at the last step.
Allow to cool, and then refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.
To reheat, transfer to a saucepan and add the chopped coriander. Bring to the boil and serve immediately.
I always think that the flavours of a curry develop and improve with standing.
If you enjoyed this easy beef Madras curry recipe, you may also like these other curry recipes:
- Tandoori lamb chops
- Kashmiri chicken and prawn curry with lychees
- Chicken bhuna with bombay potatoes
- Easy lamb curry
- Spicy ground beef curry and rice
And if you’re looking for Indian sides and starters, I’ve got you covered too:
- Saag aloo (spinach and potato curry)
- Buttery garlic naan bread
- Beef samosas with peas and potatoes
- Potato and onion bhajis
Convert grams to cups
To help you convert your recipe measurements, I have created a handy Cookery Conversion Calculator which will convert ingredients between grams, ounces, tablespoons, cups and millilitres. I hope you will find it useful.
If you live at a high altitude you may find you need to adjust your baking recipes to compensate for this. You can read about how to do this in this post on baking at high altitudes.
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Easy Beef Madras curry recipe
Easy Beef Madras Curry
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- Small mixing bowl
- Sharp Knife
- Chopping Board
- Large fryingpan or saucepan
- 1¼ pound (570g) cubed beef (topside / flank / chuck)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons sunflower oil (2 for frying the meat, and 1 for frying the onions).
- 1 teaspoon salt optional
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 14 oz (400g) can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
- 1 cup greek or natural thick yoghurt
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes adjust to your own taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces (approximately 1" cubes)
- Coat the meat in flour seasoned with 1 teaspoon of salt
- Heat 2 tablespoons sunflower oil in a saucepan (or large frying pan) and fry the meat until nicely browned on all sides. See note 1. Then return to the bowl while you make the sauce.
- Put the onion and garlic into a food processor and pulse until the onion is finely chopped. See note 2.
- Heat 1 tablespoon sunflower oil in the same frying pan and stir fry the onions and garlic until they start to soften – about 3 minutes.
- Stir in all the spices and continue to fry for a further minute. Stir well to ensure the onions are completely coated with the spices. See note 3.
- Add the can of chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoon of brown sugar and 2 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar. Stir well and bring to the boil.
- Add 1 cup of yoghurt and 1 cup of coconut milk and stir well.
- Finally return the meat to the pan, over with a lid, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 1½ hours until the sauce has thickened and the meat is tender.
- 5 minutes before the cooking time is up, stir through the chopped coriander
- Serve with white rice and/or naan bread to mop up all the delicious gravy.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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