Madras Beef Curry

Madras Beef Curry Recipe

This version of Madras Beef Curry you see pictured above conforms to a style of dish that used to be almost ubiquitous on the menus at Indian Restaurant in the West. There must have been thousands of variations on the basic theme over the years, many based on lamb rather than beef, but all share a similar profile. This particular recipe is about as simple as you can get for this old favourite.

Ingredient Notes

I have made a Beef Madras Curry, as that is the type I most remember from my childhood. Beef is not widely consumed in India, but the ‘Madras Curry’ is almost certainly an Anglo-Indian creation, with very little connection to the City of Madras (now long since renamed ‘Chennai’. Lamb also used to be quite common for this dish back in the day, and, while I don’t specifically recall Chicken or Pork being used, I imagine there have been instances in one restaurant or another. In any event, you can use whichever meat you prefer.

The spice blend in this recipe is my own Homemade Madras Curry Powder. You can really use any Curry Powder, or Masala you like, but, even if you are not inclined to replicate my blend, you should really try one of the many commercial Madras Curry Powders available to reproduce the basic spirit of this dish.

The Basic Method

Frying Onion with Madras Curry Powder
Frying Onion with Madras Curry Powder

First, heat the butter and oil in a pan over moderate heat. Sweat the onions until softened and then stir in the curry powder. Continue to cook for a minute or two longer to take the rawness out of the spice blend and infuse the cooking fat and onions with the flavor.

Browning the meat for a Madras Beef Curry
Browning the meat for a Madras Beef Curry

Next, add the meat and gently fry until browned on all surfaces. You don’t need to cook the meat all the way through, rather, you just want to employ the Maillard reaction for a little depth of flavor.

Simmering Beef in Coconut Milk
Simmering Beef in Coconut Milk

Add the coconut and an equivalent amount of water and cook over a moderate simmer for about 45 minutes until the liquid has reduced considerably.

A nearly finished Madras Beef Curry
A nearly finished Madras Beef Curry

Turn down the heat to low and continue to reduce, allowing the sauce to further thicken. The amount of time you do this is up to you… You can cook for an hour or so until almost all the sauce is absorbed in the style of a ‘Rendang’ style dish, or you can finish up after only 30 minutes, as I have done, and end up with a ‘saucier’ result.

Your Recipe Card:

Madras Beef Curry Recipe

This Madras Beef Curry Recipe reproduces a famous Indian Restaurant favorite. This version is complex in flavor, but very simple to prepare.
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Beef, Coconut Milk, Madras Curry Powder
Author: John Thompson

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. stewing Beef in bite size cubes;
  • 1 medium Onion moderately finely chopped;
  • 3 Tbsp. each Butter and Cooking Oil;
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp. Madras Curry Powder;
  • 1 small can Coconut Milk.

Instructions

  • Sweat the Onions in the Butter and Oil over medium heat until softened, stir in the Curry Powder, and cook for a few minutes longer.
  • Add the meat and saute until browned on all surfaces.
  • Add the coconut and an equivalent amount of water and cook over a moderate simmer for about 45 minutes until the liquid has reduced considerably.
  • Turn down the heat to low and continue to reduce, allowing the sauce to thicken to your preferred degree.

Notes

Use any commercial Curry Powder you like for this recipe, or follow my recipe for a Homemade Madras Curry Powder.

1 Comment

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!