Madras Cooking method – Nirvana 4


How to cook a Madras Curry to Indian Restaurant Standard.

For the last four years I’ve had a chicken curry recipe that I consider is to Restaurant Standard, taught to me by Lena, an Indian lady.

But until recently I was not having any success with Beef or Lamb curries. Sure, all my friends thought they were great, and I cooked a lot of edible curries, but they were nowhere near my Curry Nirvana. My Curry Nirvana

Finally, after a lot of experimenting with various techniques and advice from the experts, I have a method which produces a Curry to Indian Restaurant Standards. I will continue refining and experimenting, I’m close to creating my Curry Nirvana, I know it’s not far away now.

Here are videos of making an Onion Paste, the Marinade and then Cooking a Madras style Indian Curry. The recipe instructions and my thoughts are below them.

First I make an onion paste and marinate the Beef overnight

The next day I cook the Beef Madras Indian Curry

Click the link below for a copy of the MADRAS RECIPE & INSTRUCTIONS –

RECIPE Rob’s Curry Method December 2011

Here’s the thinking that lead to my recent successful curries.

I have kept notes and comments of each curry over the last few years. A long look through theses notes revealed the things that worked for me. Recently I’ve copied British Indian Restaurant Techniques and learnt more about each component and how to cook it. I realise that copying the BIR style is an obvious way towards creating BIR dishes, but following the BIR structure which involves pre-cooking the meat and pastes and then combining them all in 10-15 minutes, one portion at a time, doesn’t suit my lifestyle.

I enjoy the 60-90 minutes of cooking a 3-4 portion curry on a Friday then relaxing with a few beers and some pappadums, dishing up maybe 3 hours later. I freeze some portions and they are easily re heated and handy for days when I’m busy. I also freeze rice in single portions.

Pre cooking the meat and throwing the marinade away seems detrimental, both in cost but more importantly in taste, because the marinade contains some of the meat flavour.

The big success last year, BEFORE discovering BIR, was a recipe that used a 400 gms can of tomatoes with 1kg of beef. It was a very tasty curry, rated very highly by a mate who is extremely fussy about curries and a good cook himself. My report on that curry is here –…ice-co-madras/

My stomach reacts with onions and I normally make sure they are well sautéed. The recipe for an Onion Paste in Mick’s Indian Recipe Book seemed like a very suitable way to caramelise the onions and also produce some flavoured oil.

(Micks #1 Curry Mix ingredients and his full Onion Paste recipe are in his Indian Cookbook, available here I highly recommend this book which also comes with a link to heaps of videos of Indian Chefs cooking IN THEIR TAKE-AWAY RESTAURANT- great value at £2.99 or $5)

I changed the amounts to suit 700 grams of beef, added 8 Chillies and removed some ingredients that were unobtainable here, Like Rajah’s All Purpose Seasoning. Instead of using 1 Tab of Onion Paste per portion which it’s designed for, I use it all and don’t cook up any more onions with the meat. In the future I may also try cooking some onions with the Beef and maybe adding extra Garlic at that stage too. When cooking the Onion Paste I use extra oil which becomes flavoured and I use that oil to brown the meat the next day.

When cooking Mince dishes, like Spaghetti Bolognaise, I know that a splash of red wine creates a lovely sauce with the meat juices. It’s also good in a marinade- so ‘Rob’s Marinade’ contains 700grams of chunky Beef/Lamb, one Tab of Curry Spice Mix, a generous amount of Lemon Juice and a glass of Red wine!! OK, not traditional, yep I know that!! Marinate overnight, then remove the meat pieces and brown them in flavoured oil from the Onion Paste, put aside. Simmer the marinade for 5 minutes which burns off the red wine smell and alcohol, then blend and pour over the meat. It turns into a perfect Gravy !! As you can see in the video.

I don’t think I have completely succeeded ‘fusing the Spices’, and I will continue to experiment until I get it. How the heck do you know when the spice fusing works? If 100% is considered the aroma from the best Indian restaurant curry, then I am achieving about 70%. The curries taste good but lake that extra aroma, and aroma influences the taste buds, as anyone who has a cold will know. This is where being in the chef’s kitchen and SMELLING what’s happening would be invaluable.

Method: My method is to cook ALL the meat in the curry and portion it afterwards. After browning the meat and converting the Marinade into a Gravy, I reheat the Onion paste, add 3 heaped Tabs of Garlic Ginger paste and while that is beginning to simmer I add the Curry Spice Mix, turn up the heat and stir vigourously until I smell the spices aroma coming through- usually about 10 seconds. I quickly add the meat and marinade to cool it all down so that the spices aren’t burnt. I then give everything a hard simmer (get everything sizzling) for 10 minutes, adding water if it is too dry.

At around 4 minutes of sizzling I add 4 cut green cardamoms. When the 10 minutes of sizzling is done I put the covered pot in the oven at 104C where it simmers for around 2 hours.

The spice mix used in the curry this time was made to Mick’s #1 recipe in his book, because I thought highly of it before and wanted to try it again. The mix was less than 12 day old, thanks to Zana of SpiceZ at Kuranda who sells spice mixes. I used 1 Tab of the spice mix in the onion Paste.

This is a work in process. If you have downloaded the recipe, check for updates and sometimes you will see a new date.

Nothing is written in stone, but I now have a method which works and suits my lifestyle.

I’ve had several ‘the Best Curry I’ve ever cooked’ experiences in the last year- currently this one is now THE BEST CURRY I’VE ever cooked replacing all before. It was to restaurant standard in taste and look and I would proudly serve this to any curry aficionado.

If you are a curry lover like me, sign up for Email or RSS updates and watch my journey.


3 Responses to “Madras Cooking method – Nirvana 4”

  1. Steve says:

    Hurry for curry!! ;))

  2. Mick says:

    Hi Rob,
    Great video and your enthusiasm is infectious,
    Good work mate,

  3. Rob says:

    Thanks Mick, you’re the real guru, thanks for all your vids and recipes at

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