Madras curry is a blend of herbs and spices that originated in the South of India. This curry can accompany vegetables or meats, and it can feature a wide range of ingredients, although chili peppers are usually a fundamental ingredient. Many Indian restaurants offer various foods with this curry, ranging from chicken to lentils. Many stores sell a spice powder or paste for people who cook at home, and it is also possible for cooks to own version of this popular Indian seasoning.
The curry is named for the city of Madras, now known as Chennai. The heat of Southern India is ideal for growing chili peppers, and as a result, many Southern Indian foods are heavy on the chilies. The spicy and piquant Madras curry ended up being a big hit with British colonists in the region, and it is commonly available in Britain as a result. Classically, people think of this type of dish as being much hotter than other curries, although it can actually be quite variable in terms of heat.
In addition to chili peppers, Madras curry can also contain spices like turmeric, coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, fenugreek, allspice, black pepper, and curry leaves. The powder may also be blended with coconut milk or yogurt for a more creamy curry sauce, and ingredients like tamarind or citrus juice may be added to make it more tart and sour. In some regions, a flavorful sauce is made with the curry in a base of fried onions, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes, and the result can be both fiery and slightly oily.
People who are unaccustomed to hot food might want to go lightly on the curry while they experiment with it. They may want to advantage of classic sides for Indian curries like rice, breads such as naan, and raita, a cooling sauce made with yogurt, cucumber, mint, and other ingredients, depending on the region. Many Indian restaurants are also able to adjust the level of spiciness of their curry, for people who want a more mild version.
At home, cooks can use a purchased curry paste or powder, or they can try formulating their own. For the best result, chefs should use fresh spices and grind them as needed to conserve the flavor. One of the delightful things about Indian food is the range of side dishes and variation in individual recipes; “Madras curry” means many different things to different Indians, and as a result, cooks have a great deal of leeway with ingredients and the level of spicing that they want to use.