lamb madras – indian hotel style

Lamb madras. Done Indian hotel style. It’s one of the big ones. Truly great. At least for me. Madras is king to jalfrezi’s queen.

So I had to get this one right. And I think I did. Bold claim. I know. But it’s good. Try it for yourself.

It’s glebekitchen style though. No pre-conceptions. Just make it the best I can. So maybe a little different than what you’re used to. Not a lot different. But different. In a good way.

Indian hotel style lamb madras in a copper bowl from above.

Madras was in South India

I know. Lamb madras isn’t a real Indian dish. Madras isn’t even a place anymore. It’s Chennai now.

Nobody makes it in India. It’s a British invention. Like chicken tikka masala. That’s OK. Cooking evolves. Crosses borders.

It’s actually better than OK. It’s progress. Without progress we’d all still be eating what our grandparents ate. I’ve seen pictures. It wasn’t pretty.

There’s a story here. Or a legend. Not sure which. Not important really. It’s fun either way. The story goes like this.

About a hundred years ago some enterprising soul had an idea. A semi-random mix of Indian spices. Called it Madras curry powder.

They put it up for sale in a shop on Leicester Square. It sparked a revolution. The UK curry revolution.

I’m putting the south Indian back into lamb madras. Why not? I like coconut oil. So a bit of that goes into this version.

And tamarind. For that hint of sour. Instead of lemon juice. Not conventional. But tasty. So I’m good with it.

And I’m serving it with parathas. A bite of this madras curry wrapped up in a bit of paratha? Heaven.

Closeup of a big spoonful of lamb madras on a paratha.

Chili pickle gives this lamb madras something special

Lagniappe. That’s a Louisiana French term. It means a little something extra. I love that word. It defines glebekitchen. What I’m always looking for.

Chili pickle is the lagniappe in this lamb madras. It’s a small thing. But a big thing.

Indian chili pickle is magic in a jar. It is very hard to go wrong adding it to any curry. And it works well here.

You can pick just about any chili pickle here. It’s a flavour boost. Not the star. This isn’t naga chili madras curry. You want that wonderful pickle flavour. But not too much of it.

Full disclosure. It can get spicy. Use naga pickle and it could get really spicy. Crazy tasty. But spicy.

If it gets out of control add more coconut milk. That should help tame the fire. A bit anyway.

Table scene with Indian hotel style lamb madras, channa masala and parathas from above

This is hotel style lamb madras

This is a different take on restaurant style cooking. It’s not what you know. There is no curry base. Not the way you think about it anyway.

This is hotel style. Based on Indian hotel curry gravy. Think Indian haute cuisine. Mother sauces. The way it used to be. The way it probably still is at the best Indian restaurants.

I’m going back to fundamentals here. Pulling out all the stops. And I’m hoping you will follow.

This is not your local takeaway lamb madras. This is madras done to the max. May seem crazy to you. But sometimes you just need to make a leap of faith. It is so worth it.

Close-up of lamb madras in a hammered copper bowl.
Indian hotel style lamb madras in a copper bowl from above.
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4.85 from 19 votes

Lamb madras – Indian hotel style

This is a delicious take on restaurant style lamb madras.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword lamb madras, lamb madras curry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 682kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


Pre-cook your lamb

  • 12 oz lamb I like shoulder best. Cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.
  • 1 tsp curry powder or mix powder if you prefer
  • 1 tsp kosher salt – you want fairly salty to season the lamb. You will be discarding the cooking liquid.
  • 1 cup chicken stock – enough to cover

The spice mix

  • 1 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix – recipe link below
  • 2 tsp madras curry powder – you can get this at your Indian grocer
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

lamb madras

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil – any neutral oil is fine. I actually like a mix of conconut oil and vegetable oil (50/50) for this curry. Up to you!
  • 1 2 inch cassia bark
  • 2 tbsp minced shallot or red onion
  • 1 tbsp garlic ginger paste – recipe link below
  • the spice mix from above
  • 1 cup Indian hotel curry gravy – diluted with 1/4 cup of water – recipe link below.
  • the pre-cooked lamb
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste – or tamarind pulp if you make it yourself. 1/3 tsp is using tamarind concentrate.
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp chili pickle – depending on which pickle you use this can make it quite hot. But the pickle really adds the final bit of wow.


Do your prep

  • Make your spice mix. Pre-cook the lamb.
  • DIlute your curry gravy with 1/4 cup of water (the same 1/4 as in the ingredient list – don't dilute it twice). You need to dilute it because the lamb is going in pre-cooked. That probably doesn't make sense to you if you haven't made a chicken hotel curry yet. Just do it. It will work out.

Pre-cook the lamb

  • Add the lamb, curry powder, salt and chicken stock to a saucepan. You want enough stock to fully cover the lamb. 1 cup is a guess. I don't know how big your sauce pan is. Try to pick one that isn't way too big.
  • Bring to a simmer. Cook until the lamb is tender. This should take somewhere around an hour for lamb shoulder. Depends on how big your lamb chunks are. Also depends on the lamb. You are making stew. It's done when it's done I'm afraid.
  • Drain. Discard the stock (it will be very salty) and set the lamb aside. You can do this the day before if you'd like.

Make the lamb madras

  • Heat the oil in a medium sized frying pan until the oil just starts to shimmer.
  • Add the cassia bark. You should see little bubbles forming around it. Cook for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the diced shallots. Cook until they just start to colour up.
  • Stir in the garlic ginger paste. Gently fry until the garlic ginger paste stops sputtering. This is the only messy step.
  • Turn your heat down to medium low and add your spice mix. This is why you added 3 tablespoons of oil. You really want to fry your spices in the oil. Skimp on the oil and you risk your spices sticking or worse, burning. If your spices burn here you are starting over. No way around this.
  • Add the Indian hotel curry gravy. Stir it really well to get the oil to combine with the curry gravy. You want everything mixed together at this point. Bring to a simmer.
  • Add the tamarind paste, the cconut milk and the lamb.
  • Cover loosely and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Taste the curry. If you can take the heat, add the chili pickle. A little goes a long way but it really makes a difference in flavour too.
  • If the sauce looks a little thick at this point add a bit of water and bring back to a gentle simmer. Cook for another two or three minutes. You want some of the lamb flavour to infuse the sauce.
  • Serve with rice or Indian flatbread. I like a tarka dal or chana masala on the side. But I always like a tarka dal or a chana masala on the side so I am hopelessly biased here.


Pre-cooking lamb is a restaurant trick to speed things up at service. 
You can make up batches of pre-cooked lamb and freeze it so it’s ready when you want to make hotel style lamb curries. Just make sure you are starting with fresh lamb if you do this. You cannot refreeze lamb (or any meat, in fact).
Make your Indian hotel curry gravy ahead of time. It takes time to make so think about doing it the day before.
I use this Indian restaurant spice mix in most of my Indian restaurant style curries.
For maximum flavour you should consider making your garlic ginger paste from scratch.
You may notice there’s no tomato paste or passata in this recipe. That’s because the tomato flavour comes from the hotel curry gravy. It’s there already.


Serving: 2servings | Calories: 682kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 194mg | Sodium: 1944mg | Potassium: 1000mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 574IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 6mg

58 thoughts on “lamb madras – indian hotel style”

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Romain,
    A query about some of the quantities in this recipe.
    1/3 tsp Tamarind Paste
    Are you sure? 1/3 of a teaspoon is a very, very small amount. I’d be hard pushed to measure 1/3 of a teaspoon of tamarind paste, much less be able to taste it!
    The same applies for 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Chilli Pickle. Most of the pieces of chilli in my chilli pickle would be larger than 1/2 of a teaspoon and it’s not physically possible to measure 1/4 of a teaspoon of chilli pickle!
    Shurely shome mishtake?
    All the best,

    • The 1/3 tsp of tamarind paste was meant to be the adjustment for concentrate – I have corrected that. The pickle measurement is correct. Indian pickle is a very strong taste and adding more would push it in the direction of achari. You can always chop your chili pickle if the pieces are too large.

  2. Hi,

    I’m just wondering why pre-cook the Lamb. Why not cook the spices with the lamb as it tenderizes? What is the difference in how it turns out?


    • This is high end restaurant style cooking so speed of service is part of it. You could do a long slow braise as well in a home kitchen using this gravy. Just watch your liquid levels throughout.

  3. 4 stars
    OK Romain, where do I start? I did chicken Madras instead of lamb, but no worries, I know my way around adapting for different meats. In this case I used chicken thighs with a tsp of the mix added after the ginger garlic and steadily worked the rest in. I opted for a little coconut cream instead of milk, no problem, the coconut is not the main flavor with a Madras. So basically I ended up with a curry to taste and decided it was truly awesome for flavor, but was missing what many know as a Madras.
    There are a few things I regard as “red lines” with Madras: 1. Star anise at stage one. 2. Worcester sauce and lemon juice or wedges towards the end. I also think a little extra tomato paste would be an advantage (take your point about the hotel base).
    I added a habanero as it was not quite hot enough for me, but that’s personal taste.
    Overall, a truly excellent curry but next time I will do my variation and see how it works out. I am not trying to replicate BIR restaurant style, as the hotel base is something else, but the Madras “trademark” must come through (in my opinion)
    Would love your comments.

    • This one isn’t really attempting to be anything like a UK takeaway style Madras. I’m a little sensitive to star anise flavour (I find it a very potent spice) so I don’t often use it in Indian cooking. I use tamarind instead of lemon juice here for the sour component but lemon juice (from a real lemon:-) would stand in nicely. I love habanero but it is a strong flavour so I would likely go with some extra hot chili powder to bring the heat. I keep the recipes medium spiced on the blog and hope people then spice to their heat preference. Worcester sauce is nice addition in a restaurant style Madras but I’ve never tried it with the hotel approach.

      I’d certainly be happy to join you at the table for your version. It sounds great.

      Your version sounds

  4. 5 stars
    Hello Romain,
    I made the Madras yesterday; what can I say? Another excellent Hotel Style curry with real depth of flavour. Well done, mate.
    I have now used up all my base gravy, but once I make a new batch in the New Year, it will be the Vindaloo. I am looking forward to it.
    Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  5. 5 stars
    Mate your food – food for the gods is sooooooo good,the lamb madras Hotel stille I have smashed it, every one loves it ,I would like to ask you something a bit different, could I do this recipe with fresh Rabbit meat, would I have to change anything, or just keep it the same, just rabbit instead of lamb or chicken, thank you so much, Wayne

  6. 5 stars
    Hi my freind I just wanted to say, how I nolonger order a takeaway because of your magic 😁 THANK you for that ,so much ,I’m doing really well so far with your amazing recipes, I love cooking sooooooomuch ,awaiting spine opperatiion at moment so plenty of time to cook ,so lucky to get my opperatiion date recently, thanks you NHS I’m very lucky, anyway sorry to go on ,my freind I love going out and shooting one of my main game is rabbit as I do pest control on local horse farms ,I never let game go to waste a like rabbit and what I’m asking his should I do rabbit like I do chicken in your supper food ,or his there a recipe for rabbit by your self, all the best buddy and thanks for this amazing food journey it’s making me smile, I love cooking so much, all the best wayne

    • Hope the operation is a success! I haven’t cook much rabbit and I’ve never tried it with Indian flavours. If you follow your usual braising technique for rabbit I imagine it would work quite well.

      Also, I’m liking the idea of tandoori if that catches your fancy.

  7. Hi Romain
    I’m planning to make the ‘Lamb madras – Indian hotel style’ but instead of pre cooking the lamb I was going to add the raw lamb to the curry at the stage ‘just before adding the coconut milk’ and then cook it until tender in a tagine. Then add the coconut milk, tamarind and pickle.
    Any thoughts on whether this would work ok

    • It would work perfectly – just watch that it doesn’t dry out as it braises. Maybe add a bit of liquid up front and pay attention as it cooks.

      I have a recipe similar to that shortly to show just exactly that on my list.

  8. 5 stars
    Romain, I think it’s better to bake the lamb shoulder or leg in one piece without using liquid, then you can save the fatty drippings and portion them out with the meat as you cut it for future meals. The fat is all flavor, that amazing lamb flavor. The madras curry and hotel base do the rest. Just had it tonight, can’t do it antly other way. With your method, you’re discarding the fat when you get rid of the liquid aslfter baking. Big mistake.

    • I do love lamb fat and fond. I am not such a big fan of leg for this type of dish and whole shoulder is very hard to come by where I am. I do take your point though. Anyone who does it the way Winston has suggested should save the fat and use some of it to bloom the spices. I do this with lamb keema and it is spectacular.

  9. 5 stars
    Hi Romain, back home after a long vacation, the first thing I did was this curry. Twenty years ago there was this indian restaurant in my home town that served these rich thick great curries. Unfortunately it was too expensive, and at the time too exotic, for the locals and closed down after a few years. But my love for Indian food was born in that restaurant and ever since I have been looking for that taste. Needless to say, I found it today! This is it. I will rarely stray from hotel style after this. Thank you so much for this great gift!

    PS. It took me awhile to look at the hotel style section, because I usually don’t associate hotel dinners with the highest quality – boy was I wrong!

  10. 5 stars
    Another excellent curry for the menu at Saboreando Comida India.

    Thanks so much for providing recipes that have different flavour profiles, makes my job so much easier and my menu so much tastier.


  11. 5 stars
    Hi Romain, made this with the hotel gravy and beef instead of the lamb. What a wonderful taste, absolutely loved the dish. Having grown up in the UK, Madras was a stable at the curry houses, but this was certainly a level above. Thanks for so many wonderful flavours, really enjoying my journey into making Indian food myself. Kind Regards, David

  12. Hey Romain, I’m about to make a Chicken Madras Hotel Style for twelve I notice when you look at the recipe for two it says dilute the curry gravy with 1/4 cup water, when I alter the recipe to 12 I notice it says 6 cups of gravy diluted with 1/4 cup of water!! Is the 1/4 cup per every two servings of curry gravy or do I add 1 1/2 cups of water to dilute 6 cups of gravy!!

    • Clearly that’s a problem with the scaling. Yes , you are absolutely correct. Scale the water. The goal is to get a restaurant sauce consistency so add until you get where you need to be.

    • Hi, so if I was to make this using chicken, would I precook the chicken as you did the lamb? Thanks

    • I wouldn’t pre-cook the chicken as you lose the flavour from the juices thrown by the chicken. The 1/4 cup of water used to dilute the gravy is to bring the sauciness of the final dish into line. You can omit it as the chicken juices will add liquid and if the end curry is still a bit thick you can simply add a couple tablespoons of water or stock to get to the desired consistency.

    • Thanks Romain, do I add the chicken between 7 and 8? ie after tamarind and coconut then leave until the chicken is cooked? Cheers

  13. Hey Romain, could I make this for up to 10 people just by increasing quantities. I know you cannot do this when cooking Restaurant style recipes..

    • Yes. That’s one of the wonderful things about this style. I haven’t yet tried really scaling it up 5x though. You might think about 2 batches?

  14. Hi Romain, sorry, this is copied from the lamb Madras recipe, notist I asked it there instead of here….

    Hi, I love your curry recipes , they go down a treat at home, I’m about to make this new curry base, just one question, do you also blend the cassia bark ? I have never used this before, having just had it delivered, it looks to be very “woody” excuse the pun lol. Thanks in advance.

    • You blend the whole spices into the hotel style curry gravy. You do not blend the actual hotel curry recipes at all. Whole spices in the curry recipes are meant to be eaten around or removed.

  15. Romain I just made your hotel style curry gravy last night. It took 2.5 hours but I’m so excited about this labour of love!

    My husband and I have been becoming more vegetarian over the last few years to lessen our impact on the planet and I’m hoping and praying you have some suggestions as to how we would adapt these hotel style curries with vegetables/eggs/paneer/meat substitutes? (I also want to be able to impress my Indian veggie family members when this pandemic allows me to finally see them.) I feel like just straight swapping meat for veggies won’t work.

    Help please!!

    • I haven’t played with vegetarian options yet for hotel style curries so no guarantees. These are untested ideas that I know work with the restaurant dishes here.

      For anything where the chicken or meat is pre-cooked – like this one – you can just replace with chickpeas directly. Paneer would probably work as well although it would be very rich. Roasted eggplant would probably work as well. As would waxy, pre-cooked (maybe fried) potatoes. Or potatoes and spinach.

      For anything that has uncooked chicken in it you will need to make up the liquid thrown by the chicken so add 3-4 tablespoons of water at the end (to get to a nice saucy consistency).

      If you want to try vegetables, I would pre-cook them first. I have zero experience with meat substitutes so I can’t really comment on that.

      Hope this helps!

  16. 5 stars
    Thank you,Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

    This is my first Hotel style curry, cooked easily and tastes WOW! This is definitely not my last, I’m going to try them all. Oh, by the way did I say Thank you…?

    • You’re welcome. You’re welcome. You’re welcome. You’re welcome. You’re welcome. You’re welcome. You’re welcome.

      I’m delighted you are enjoying it. And thank you for putting a big smile on my face.

      Oh, and by the way, did I mention you’re welcome:-)

  17. Hi Romain,

    Firstly I have been making your restaurant curries for a couple of months now and they are incredible!! I really like the way you explain and describe things, you have a great way!!

    I have a quick question: I am taking on the Ceylon chicken hotel-style this weekend. I also want to make a madras sauce to go with a tandoori mixed grill. Could I use the Hotel style Lamb madras (but leave the lamb out) and double the ingredients to make more sauce?

    Many thanks

    • Thank you for saying. That’s great to hear.

      Yes, that’s the beauty of the hotel style. It scales perfectly. Dinner sounds amazing.

  18. 5 stars
    Hi Romain
    Great Brilliant Delicious what more can I say the flavour and texture was spot on. I think the wife is in love with you. So the million dollar question is what’s next????


  19. Romain, that is one mean madras recipe there. Congratulationz, I have been searching for a madras recipe that even comes close to what I was usually served when living in England. Yours is the first and only one that passes the test!

    Tomorrow I am going to make CTM with your hotel gravy. I figure if I dilute the gravy a bit more and precede it with passata for both the flavour and colour, it should work quite well.

    This site (you) have revolutionized my curries. Ever in your debt!

    • I’m so glad to hear that! I’m working on a CTM recipe with the hotel gravy myself. We can compare notes!

  20. This looks delicious. I am going to try it this week. Pretty much every one of your recipes here have been a hit with my family.

    Do you have any tips on what part of Lamb we should use for this dish? Any thoughts on Mutton vs Lamb?

  21. The Lamb looks really tasty, if you wanted to cook for 4 or 8 people, what parts of the recipe would I increase and by how my?


    • Haven’t tried that yet. I think most of it would scale linearly except I would cut the spice mix by 25% or so and creep up on the tamarind and pickle.

      Certainly this style of cooking scales better than regular Indian restaurant cooking as the gravy already has the Maillard flavours from browning the onions.

      I have done a couple larger scale chicken curries with hotel gravy and they worked extremely well.

  22. This lamb looks so good. I am looking forward to trying it. Do you make your own pickle? If not, is there a brand of pickle you look for? It is amazing to me that such a small amount for flavor this dish.

    • I use Pran chili pickle. It’s a naga based pickle so really hot. Any Indian red chili pickle works. It’s not intended as the main flavour but rather a little something extra. If you find you’d like more pickle flavour and can take the heat then go for it!

    • Hey Romain, do you ever use dalla pickle? My local Indian grocery store has it. It’s very vingery and so hot. Can’t find naga locally.

    • I’ve never tried dalla pickle. Now I’m going to have to find some to add to my already out of control Indian pickle collection:-)

      Naga isn’t so vinegary but it is hot and has a really distinctive flavour.

    • Dalla pickle is not an Indian condiment so my guess is that shop is Nepali (My wife is Nepalese), it comes from Nepal and is completely different to Mr Naga and Pran Naga pickle, although it taste amazing.
      To make a Naga curry you need Mr Naga you can buy it on eBay if you cant find it local, I found Pran Naga was nowhere near as good as the original, to hot and not enough flavour and I eat chilli’s with everything.

      Ps: When I make my Naga with Mr Naga I use 2 tsps for a single curry the flavour is insane you will never look back.

4.85 from 19 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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