How to Use Curry Base Gravy | 6 Easy Steps

Hey, glad you could join me! Did you follow your nose? There are few smells nicer than when someone is cooking up a huge batch of BIR curry base sauce! But once you’ve made it, what do you do with it? Knowing how to use curry base gravy is a key technique in making homemade takeaway curry. In this article, I’m going to look at some general techniques so that you’ll be able to create all of your favourite dishes.

How to Use Curry Base Gravy | The Quick Answer

Curry base gravy is the sauce that carries all of those delicious spices and flavours. It isn’t particularly strong in taste; it’s kind of like a vague curry tasting onion soup.

To use curry base gravy, all you have to do is dilute it until it is the same consistency as milk, get it nice and hot, and then add a cupful or two to your frying pan after you’ve added meat and curry spices. It boils down, thickens and mingles with all the flavours to turn into a delicious curry!

To learn more about base gravy and get some more specific tips, read on…

What is Curry Base Gravy Made From?

Ah, I’m glad you asked!

Lots of onions

Curry base gravy is made from onions… Lot’s of onions. These are fried until they are soft and golden. Then you fry other vegetables such as peppers, carrots, cabbage… The choice is yours.

 We add a few subtle spices such as cumin, garam masala and turmeric, and then add stock before boiling the entire mixture until the ingredients go soft and tender.

We then blend the entire thing until it turns into a thick soup. Some people dilute it before freezing. Some don’t. I firmly believe that it works better when kept concentrated right up to the point where you cook with it.

If you were to taste curry base gravy, you’d probably think it tasted a little bland, like a sort of really mild curry.

But here’s the thing.

That’s exactly what we want. A curry base gravy is like a blank canvas on which you will create your own masterpiece. If it tasted too strong, every curry would taste the same!

How Do You Use Curry Base Gravy?

Ok, so here’s a step-by-step guide to using curry base gravy. This technique applies to most curry recipes. The only thing that changes are the spices you use for each different flavour of curry…

1) Dilute your Base Gravy…

This is the biggest mistake beginners make, not diluting the curry base enough. Base gravy starts off kind of thick. We want to water it down until it is about the same consistency as milk.

Here’s a top tip.

It’s better to have your base gravy too thin than too thick. To get it close to the right consistency, you’ll need to match the amount of curry base with water. So, for each cup you are using, add one cup of water (at least).

2) Bring your Base Gravy to a Simmer

Take a small saucepan and add your diluted gravy. Place it on medium heat, and give it the occasional stir. You don’t want it to boil. That will cause it to reduce and thicken.

Remember we said thick base gravy is bad!

Look for a gentle simmer with small bubbles. When you’ve got it to this stage, you are ready to cook.

a pan simmering the base gravy

Why cook with hot base gravy?

Simple. If you were to add cold base gravy, you would be cooling your curry pan down, temporarily stopping the cooking process. From my time watching the Indian chefs in the kitchen, those pans stayed red hot, from the start of the curry until it was served!

3) Cooking your Curry Using Base Gravy

I’m not going to give a specific recipe here. But let’s say we were using chicken and a simple spice powder mix

(p.s. if you want some curry recipes using this technique, there are loads just here…)

You’d get your frying pan hot, add oil and brown your chicken. From there, you would throw in whatever spices you were using and give the chicken a good toss to get it all coated. When you dry cook spices, they darken and roast slightly, giving your curry even more depth of flavour.

It is at the point you’d add your preheated curry base gravy…

No! Not all at once!...

4) Add Your Base Gravy One Cup at a Time

If you want to know what is the secret to a good curry, this is it…

Right here…

You add the hot curry base a cup at a time, letting it simmer down and thicken in the pan before adding the next.

You’ll find that with high heat and the base gravy already being hot, it tends to reduce quite quickly and forms a kind of thick curry paste. As soon as this happens, add another cup!

5) Scrape in the Edges

Here’s another great tip when using BIR base sauce. You’ll notice around the edges of your pan, there is a dry crust of spice and sauce.

Listen up…

Scrape that back into the pan! This is full of roasted and super intense spices. Work your way around the pan. It is one of the little tricks I picked up in the kitchen. It will transform your curry!

6) Don’t Go Too Thick!

While I would suggest cooking your curry down to the right consistency, I’ve tried a few different experiments…

Here’s what I say…

Cook your base gravy down until it is nearly the right consistency.


As curry sauce cools, it thickens slightly. There’s been plenty of times that I’ve served my curry only to find that by the time I’ve sat down to eat it, the sauce has mysteriously disappeared! So, serve your curry just on the ‘saucy’ side.

Want to see a video of the above in action...

How Long Does Base Gravy Last?

Well, this all depends on how you store it.

If you are putting it covered, in the fridge, a maximum of 2 days. After that you are probably chancing it

If I’m completely honest, I find that a day or two in the refrigerator does wonders for the flavour. It actually tastes better if left for a while to marinate and for the flavours to ‘steep’.

Can you Freeze Curry Base Gravy?

Yes, you can!

To be upfront, most of the time, when I’m making a curry, you’ll find at least one hob on the pan with a large base gravy ‘ice cube’ bobbing along, waiting to melt!

When you leave a base gravy overnight, it tastes better… Well, when you freeze curry sauce, it has the same effect.

If you are looking for tips, I’ve got a dedicated article on how to freeze curry sauce right here.

Final Thoughts

Making homemade takeaway curry really isn’t difficult, and knowing how to use curry base gravy is a huge step on the road to becoming an authentic Indian chef! Whipping up a batch is a little time consuming, but you’ll have enough base sauce to make plenty of curries, saving you time in the long run! Anyway, guys, thanks for reading. If you’ve got any questions, leave a comment below. I’m always happy to share.

Enjoy Making Curry Yourself?

Hey folks, thanks for reading this article. I hope you found it useful, and that you learned something new allowing you to make your curry extra special. Here are a few things that can really elevate your curry game to the next level. 

These are affiliate links, so if you use them I receive a small commission, but this won't cost you any extra. In all honesty, I use very similar items myself, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to my friends.

A Complete Curry Kit: - Literally, everything you'll need to make curry all in one place. Cookware, storage, utensils, even the spices! This is my dedicated guide to getting you up and running all for the price of few takeaways.

Curry pans: - You need one, and one only. A frying pan exactly like this is really easy to use, and is exactly the type that authentic Indian chefs use to make the type of curry that you'll have in your local takeaway. You can see my full reviews of several pans right here...

Spice Storage: - Being organised is half the battle in making great curry. Spices can be notoriously hard to keep tidy. That's why I tend to use a spice rack like this. You can arrange your spices by size, heat, or any way you choose. I've got a detailed review of several Indian spice racks in this guide.

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