If you want Indian restaurant style results but aren’t ready to dive into everything that involves, near restaurant style chicken madras is right for you. It takes way less prep and you still get the flavours and texture from your local joint.
It isn’t quite the same. That’s why it’s nearly restaurant style chicken madras. But it’s pretty close. And it’s a lot easier. Big, bold chicken madras flavour in a rich sauce. Sound like what you get in the restaurant? It is.
Onions are the foundation of most Indian curries. Homestyle, restaurant or nearly restaurant. Doesn’t matter. For homestyle you need to cook the onions slowly until brown.
That takes a lot of time to do right. Like 20 minutes. Maybe more. And you need to watch them. Pay attention. You want them brown but you can’t let them burn. Work. Tasty results. But work.
Indian restaurant style goes a different route. You boil a ton of onions and puree the result. That’s called curry base and it’s used in pretty much every restaurant dish.
Nearly restaurant style splits the difference. That’s the beauty of it. You pre-cook the onions but you use the microwave. They cook away untended while you prep the rest of the meal.
No hovering over the pot watching onions brown. No planning a day in advance to make curry base. Zap the onions in the microwave then puree to make an onion paste. Good to go. It’s really that easy.
The rest of the recipe follows lessons learned from restaurant style. Bloom the spices in oil. That’s important no matter what style you go with. Then all you have to do is fry up the onion paste and add the chicken. Simmer until the chicken is done. Eat. Smile.
This version of chicken madras will have you wondering why somebody didn’t think of this sooner. Try it. You may never look back.
You don't need to dive into full blown Indian restaurant style cooking to make an absolutely delicious chicken madras.
- 2 cups onions - coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup water
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 3 pieces per thigh.
- 2 tsp indian restaurant mix powder - see notes
- 3 tsp madras curry powder - available at any Indian grocery
- 2 tsp paprika - for colour
- 1-2 tsp mild kashmiri chili powder
- 1 tsp kasoor methi - dried fenugreek leaves
- 1 1/2 2 inch piece of cinnamon bark - also called cassia bark
- 1 tsp kosher salt - use a bit less if you are using table salt
- 2 tbsp garlic ginger paste
- 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste plus enough water to dilute it to the consistency of tomato sauce
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/6 lemon - juiced
- Place the onions in a microwave safe dish and cover loosely. Microwave at 70 percent until the onions are soft and translucent. This takes 10 minutes in my 1100 watt microwave. I can't predict how long it will take in yours...
Remove the onions from the microwave. Be careful. They will be hot. Let them cool slightly. Place the onions, 2 tbsp vegetable oil and 1 cup of warm water in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the mix powder, paprika, Kashmiri chili powder, madras curry powder, kasoor methi and salt. This is your spice mix.
Heat 4 tbsp vegetable oil in a pot over medium heat until it shimmers.
Toss in the cinnamon bark and let cook a few seconds. You will see little bubbles forming around the bark.
- Add the garlic ginger paste and cook until it stops spluttering.
- Turn the heat to medium low. Add the spice mix and stir continuously until it starts to smell really good - around 30-40 seconds. Watch it carefully. If you burn the spices at this point you have to start over.
- Add the diluted tomato paste and stir to combine. Turn the heat up to medium. Cook for 1 minute.
Add the onion paste and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes. The curry will darken a bit as it cooks. Don't worry if it seems a bit dry. The chicken will release juices as it cooks and you should be left with a nice amount of sauce.
Turn the heat down to medium low. Add the chicken and stir. Cover and simmer until the chicken is done. It's done when you measure the internal temperature and it says 170F, about 12-15 minutes. An instant read thermometer is a handy thing to have here...
If the curry is a bit thick add a bit of water or chicken stock and stir. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Let the chicken madras simmer another minute or so. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
Garnish with a bit of cilantro and diced red finger hot chili pepper if desired.
The recipe for Indian restaurant spice mix can be found here.
You can buy garlic ginger paste but it's easy to make and homemade is way better. Here's an easy recipe for garlic ginger paste. If you cook Indian fairly often it's so worth it to whip up a batch. It will keep for a few weeks in the fridge.