The Tantalizing Taste of Chicken Madras

Chicken Madras is a classic curry dish originating from Southern India. It has a distinctive blend of locally sourced spices and coconut milk that come together to create a full-flavored but not overpowering curry. This easy one-pot recipe makes the most of convenient ingredients while delivering complex flavors.

What is Chicken Madras?

As the name suggests, Chicken Madras hails from the coastal city of Chennai (formerly known as Madras) in Tamil Nadu, South India. It is part of the country’s popular chicken curry repertoire. Local spices like coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili are simmered in coconut milk to produce a golden brown, medium-hot curry.

Benefits of this Recipe

Unlike many curries, Chicken Madras offers robust flavor without being overly spicy for most palates. It contains common pantry staples making it convenient to whip up any night of the week. The protein, anti-inflammatory spices and healthy fat from coconut provide satisfying nutrition too. Best of all, this recipe comes together easily with just 30 minutes of active preparation time.


The hallmark flavors of Chicken Madras come from an alchemy of select spices, aromatics and coconut cream.

Protein: Chicken

Most recipes call for boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts. For a family of four, 1-1.5 lbs of meat works well. Bone-in pieces can also be used but will require longer simmering.


  • Coriander powder – Warm, citrusy and nutty
  • Cumin powder – Earthy and slightly bitter
  • Turmeric – Bright yellow and mildly bitter
  • Chili powder – Red pepper adds heat
  • Garam masala – Complex blend of common Indian spices
  • Ginger and garlic – Essential aromatics

Aromatics and Sauce

  • Onion – Main vegetable, adds sweetness
  • Tomatoes – Acid and moisture
  • Coconut milk – Thick and creamy sauce carrier


Now that the ingredients are gathered, it’s time to put it all together into a satisfying one-pot meal.

Marinating the Chicken

Combine 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 tsp each coriander, cumin, turmeric and 1/4 tsp chili powder. Add chicken and coat well, then marinate 20-30 minutes while prepping other items.

Cooking the Aromatics

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook chopped onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Then mix in minced garlic and tomatoes. Cook 3-5 more minutes.

Simmering with Sauce

Add the marinated chicken and any leftover marinade to the skillet. Pour in 1 can coconut milk and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is fully cooked.

Nutrition Information

Chicken and coconut milk provide lean protein and healthy fats. Meanwhile, frequent serving sizes of tamari nuts, legumes and spices make Chicken Madras nutritious and satisfying.

  • Protein: Chicken is the primary source at around 25g per 3oz serving.
  • Fiber: Coconut contains 3g of fiber per 1/3 cup.
  • Iron: Spices like coriander and cumin are rich in iron, offering 10-15% DV per serving.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Turmeric contains curcumin which reduces inflammation.
  • Blood sugar control: Protein and fiber help stabilize blood sugar levels after a meal.

Serving Suggestions

Here are some complementary dishes that make a complete meal out of Chicken Madras:

  • Over basmati rice pilaf or rice noodles – Soaks up the rich sauce.
  • With naan or paratha flatbread – For scooping up extra gravy.
  • Raita (yogurt dip) – Provides cool contrast to the heat.
  • Fresh salad – Adds crispness and vitamins.
  • Lentil sambar (soup) – Another common Indian staple.

Storage and Reheating

Leftover Chicken Madras keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days. It can also be portioned and frozen for convenient reheating later. To reheat, stir the cold curry into a saucepan over medium-low heat or microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between, until piping hot throughout.

Recipe Variations

Once familiar with the basic recipe, have fun tweaking it:

  • Vegetarian version – Use chickpeas or paneer cheese instead of chicken.
  • Other proteins – Try shrimp, lamb or tofu instead.
  • Extra vegetables – Add frozen or fresh green beans, peas or cauliflower.
  • Custom spice blends – Adjust the ratio of warm (cumin) vs hot (chili) flavors.


With just a handful of supermarket ingredients, Chicken Madras delivers robust Indian curry flavors. It offers a satisfying balance of protein, fiber and complex herbs/spices. Make a big batch to enjoy for meals throughout the week, experiment with add-ins, or freeze portions for easy dinners later. This recipe proves that nuanced taste need not take extensive preparation.

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