Mamta's Kitchen

Madras Beef Curry

Beef Curry from Madras (Chennai)

Mamta Gupta

Beef is not really a very commonly eaten meat in India as majority of it's population is Hindu and they are forbidden to eat beef, if they are religious. Cow is considered sacred, a mother to all Hindus, as it gives us milk. This dish is more popular in UK, and perhaps in some Muslim countries, than it is in India. The recipe can be used to make chicken, pork and lamb curries too, cooking times will vary. Serves 6

This recipe should now be called 'Chennai Beef Curry' now, as Madras has been renamed as Chennai, its original name.

1st picture by Alan Smith, rest by Dick Smith


  • 1 kg. good quality lean steak. Curries cooked from poor quality meat do not taste good, unless slow cooked like a casserole or pressure cooked.

  • 2-3 tbsp. cooking oil

  • 1 tsp. black mustard seeds

  • 8-10 curry leaves (not bay leaves)

  • 150 gm. or 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped finely

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated/chopped

  • 1 inch piece root ginger, peeled and grated

  • 2 tsp. coriander powder

  • 2 tsp. ground cumin powder

  • 1 level tsp. turmeric powder

  • 1 level tsp. chilli powder (more if you like it hotter)

  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt (adjust to taste)

  • 2-3 tbsp. white vinegar

  • 2 tbsp. tomato puree

  • 1 cup beef stock or water

  • A handful of chopped coriander leaves (optional)


  1. Place meat in a bowl. Add coriander, cumin, salt, turmeric, chilli powder and vinegar and mix well. Keep aside to marinate while preparing onion, ginger, garlic.

  2. Heat the oil in a pan.

  3. Add mustard seeds. As the seeds start to splutter, add curry leaves, stir quickly and add onions, garlic and ginger. Fry until onions are golden-dark brown.

  4. Add meat and spice mix and stir fry until meat is well browned.

  5. Add tomato puree and stock/water. You can transfer it to a slow cooker at this stage and leave it to cook according to your slow cooker instructions. I cook it on medium heat for 6-8 hours, until meat is tender (my cooker has three settings; slow for keeping warm, medium for prolonged cooking and >high for faster, initial cooking.

  6. For cooking in a pan, bring to boil, cover and simmer on low heat for 1 hour, or until beef is tender.

  7. For cooking in a pressure cooker, cook under full pressure for 6-7 minutes. The time required to cook depends on the quality of meat and the method you use. Cheap cut meats are best cooked slowly over a period of several hours. The better the meat, faster it cooks.

  8. When ready, the gravy should coat the meat nicely and not be too runny. If it is runny, boil it briskly for a few minutes.

  9. Turn heat off, add 2/3rd of coriander leaves and stir.

  10. Garnish with remaining coriander leaves and serve hot with Boiled Rice.


  • You can use tamarind paste, instead of vinegar and tomato puree.

  • Once cooked, you can add a tin of coconut milk, to give it a different flavour.

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