Authentic lamb Madras

    1 hour 50 min

    A classic hot and tangy south Indian dish of toasted spices in a deep rich sauce. Early restaurateurs had no way of communicating the scale of heat in a dish so an arbitrary scale was created - a korma is mild, a phall is crazy hot and so on. Now the standard restaurant dishes all fit somewhere on that gradient. However, one sauce was created by restaurateurs in the UK that was hot, fiery and tangy - and they called it madras. Now Madras (now called Chenni) is a hot, dry region in India so this was a great way to illustrate the level of heat in this dish. History lesson over! If you want to get to grips with your spices this is a lovely dish to put together as you have to create your own Madras spice blend. A beautifully fragrant recipe for when you're ready for a little more of a challenge.


    Surrey, England, UK
    9 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
    • 1 cassia stick (about 7cm long)
    • 5 whole cloves
    • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
    • 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
    • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
    • 2 tablespoons turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
    • 400 to 600g leg of lamb, trimmed and chopped
    • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
    • 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
    • 10 to 12 fresh curry leaves
    • 1 onion, finely diced
    • 1 green chilli, finely chopped (2 for more heat)
    • 1 (2cm) piece ginger, grated
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1 (400g) tin plum tomatoes
    • 2 teaspoons tamarind pulp
    • 1 teaspoons hot chilli powder
    • 1 handful fresh coriander

    Prep:20min  ›  Cook:1hr30min  ›  Ready in:1hr50min 

    1. To create your Madras powder combine black peppercorns, cassia, cloves, coriander, fenugreek, mustard, poppy, cumin and fennel seeds, and grind to a fine powder with an electric grinder (blender or pestle and mortar). Stir in the turmeric and chilli powder.
    2. Place the lamb in a large bowl and rub with 2 or 3 tablespoons of Madras curry powder and the salt until all the meat is coated. Transfer the remaining powder into a well-sealed jar for another time.
    3. Heat the oil in a large cast iron pan until hot. Add the mustard seeds once they start to pop stir in the curry leaves and then the onions. Soften the onions until they turn dark brown (about 20 minutes) before adding the green chilli and ginger along with the finely chopped garlic. Keep stirring as this has a tendency to catch on the bottom of the pan. If it does catch add a splash of water.
    4. After a few minutes, add the tomatoes, tamarind and red chilli. Bring this to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer to create a thick masala sauce. Once it is shiny and thick add the lamb to the pan. Stir to coat the meat with the sauce.
    5. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover and leave to cook very gently for 40 minutes to 1 hour until it is cooked through and no longer pink in the centre and the sauce has thickened. Serve hot garnished with fresh coriander.


    If you haven’t got the time to make this in the evening, then you can slow cook it so it’s ready when you get in.

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