Quick Curry Base Sauce | Make Unlimited Curries! (Updated)

Like your local Indian restaurant, you might not have all day. You need a way to make curry quickly and easily. Well, this is the answer. By making a quick curry base sauce, you'll be able to make a different Indian restaurant curry recipe every day of the week, literally. I'm going to share my very own curry base with you right now. Check it out, its a great recipe, if you don't want to read all the details go straight to my recipe card...

Quick Curry Base Sauce | Why You Need it…

Your curry base sauce is basically a blank canvas that carries the flavor of whichever curry you want to make. It is a quick and easy way to get a rich and tasty curry sauce. All you do is add your meat and spices.

Don't believe me?

With an easy curry base gravy, you'll be able to make the following restaurant style curry dishes in less than 15 minutes: -

  • Chicken Korma
  • Bhuna
  • chicken Madras
  • Vindaloo
  • Phaal
  • Saag
  • Vegetable curry
  • Lamb Dopiaza
  • Pathia
  • Chicken Tikka Masala

And loads more Indian restaurant curry sauces and curry recipes

So from then on, it's just a case of getting the right spices and meat (or vegetables) and 'plugging them in' to make a delicious homemade Indian curry! Perfect restaurant style curries coming your way!

How to Make Quick Curry Base Sauce

Here's the thing…

Each Indian chef has their own version of curry base. It's normally a closely guarded secret…

Every chef makes theirs slightly differently. So where did I learn to make it?

When I was working in the kitchen at the Indian, I kept my head down and paid careful attention to what the indian restaurants did, Simples.

Curry Spy by name, Curry Spy by nature…

I had to do a bit of guessing... The chef never told me what was in his spice mix... But I've been able to narrow down what they used in my Indian restaurant. They definitely used a combo of the following: -

  • Turmeric powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Coriander powder
  • Cumin seeds
  • Bell peppers
  • Chopped tomatoes

The results are as follows, and here is how to make a quick base gravy for an authentic Indian restaurant curry…

What Do I Need to Make a Quick Curry Base Sauce?

Ok, straight off the bat… You will need a pressure cooker if you want to cook curry base quickly. A pressure cooker allows you to get the cooking done so much quicker.

But if you don't have one it's no big deal... A normal saucepan will do the trick too

Snobs will say that this changes the taste. Well, I've tried both the pressure cooker method and the 'slow' method using a normal pan.

There's no difference in taste, just the time it takes.

What is Curry Base Made of?

I'm glad you asked… Here's what you'll need to make unlimited Indian restaurant curry...

  • 1.5kg of large white onions
  • Vegetable oil
  • red pepper
  • Green pepper
  • chillies (finely chopped) Or chilli powder (optional)
  • cabbage
  • carrot
  • ginger garlic paste, literally pounded garlic cloves and fresh ginger made into a smooth paste
  • A little tomato puree (optional)
  • simple curry spice powder ( really mild curry powder)
  • A pinch of garam masala
  • Beef stock

How many onions?!?

1.5kg at least! The gravy base is nearly 100% pure onion.

Your next job is to peel and slice the onions…

Stop crying.

I had to do it every day for 6 months to bring you this guide, and you are about to learn how to make Indian restaurant curry as a result!

Oh, it's the onions? Fair enough.

From there, you add two tablespoons of oil to the pan and put it on medium. Then add your onions.

Do you want a tip for cooking onions?

Add salt. This breaks down the walls of the onions on a cellular level and releases moisture. Get the onions frying along. The aim is to cook them until they turn a deep brown color. As soon as they are softened and translucent, add your ginger garlic paste.

While the onions are browning, you can chop and shred all the vegetables. As soon as the onions are uniformly brown, throw in your spice mix and all the remaining ingredients and key spices like coriander powder, turmeric powder and garam masala. Make sure it is well mixed, and finally, add your stock.

The next part is a waiting game. I put the lid on the pressure cooker and boil that base for all its worth. The hotter temperature and the pressure forces moisture into the mix, making it cook quicker. I find using a pressure cooker makes the flavor more intense too!

Take a deep breath…

Smells like a takeaway, right?

After about 25 minutes, your vegetables should be soft and tender. From here, all that is left to do is blitz the base curry sauce using a hand blender.

Here's where most people go wrong…

Your base sauce recipe needs to be made into a smooth paste. You'll find it is a little thicker than you were expecting… That's a good thing. You've now got concentrated curry base gravy. If you want to go ahead and freeze it, now is the time… just bang it in the freezer

And you'll have enough for about 10-12 curries. A simple chicken korma or whatever is on British Indian restaurants menu! If the recipe calls for base gravy, you've got it!

But we haven't finished yet…

The second area where people go wrong is to leave their quick curry base sauce too thick. It has to be diluted before use in a curry.

How to Dilute Curry Base Sauce

This is pretty easy to do. You are aiming for a certain consistency in your curry base.

And that is..?

You will want to dilute it until it is about the same thickness as milk. That's the consistency Indian restaurants use.

Here's the ratio... 1 cup of curry base concentrate to one cup of water.

Easy right?

I tend to freeze my concentrate for the following reasons…

  • It seems to get more intense in flavour after it is frozen.
  • It is easier to store in the freezer.

So, can you freeze curry sauce? Absolutely. I've got a dedicated guide on how freeze curry sauce here.

From there, it's just a case of deploying it in your favorite curry. As to how to do that, check out my article on how to use curry base gravy.

Alright, now that I've talked you through it, here's my easy curry base gravy recipe.

Quick Curry Base Gravy Recipe


  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil (or clarified butter)
  • 1.5kg white onions
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 white cabbage chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 3-5 mixed chillis
  • 1 teaspoon mix powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 litres of stock (I use beef, but you can also use vegetable stock)



  1. Peel and roughly chop your onions.
  2. Take a large pressure cooker, add the oil, and place the pan over medium-low heat.
  3. Add the onions and add salt. Stir occasionally to prevent the onions from burning.
  4. When the onions turn soft, keep stirring occasionally and add in the garlic and ginger paste. While the onions are slowly browning, chop the rest of your vegetables.
  5. You are looking for the onions to turn a deep brown color. The browner, the better. Once they turn brown, add your spice mix along with the chopped vegetables.
  6. Stir and fry for around 5 minutes, then add the stock.
  7. Turn up the heat and add the pressure cooker lid. Once it starts to hiss, turn the heat down to medium heat. If it looks a little thick feel free to add a splash of hot or cold water
  8. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables turn soft.
  9. Allow to cool slightly and then blend with a hand blender or food processor. Do this until it is really smooth.
  10. Allow the base to cool completely and freeze for later use. Or dilute with cold water and use right away in different curries. Absolutely delicious!


So, you might be used to cooking curries, or maybe not. Here are some things that I normally get asked…

Do I have to use a pressure cooker to make a curry sauce?

No, if you haven't got one, you can still make this curry base easily. It just might take longer. Follow the instructions above, but once you've added the stock, just boil the ingredients until they turn tender. It should take about 45 minutes. We only use a pressure cooker to save time.

Can I Use Tomato Puree in My Recipe?

If you want to use tomato puree, go right ahead. I've seen all sorts of things added including stuff like coconut milk, melon seeds and even prepared cashew melon paste! At the end of the day, once you've had a practice, you'll make the recipe your own, so if you want to try adding a cashew melon paste preparation, go for it!

What Is the Secret to a Good Curry?

When it comes to my quick curry base gravy, here are a few main things to make sure of… And it is exactly how they do it at a British Indian restaurant

  • Make sure you brown the onions
  • Make sure that your base gravy is really smooth
  • Ensure that your curry base is well diluted… it is better to go too thin than too thick!

Why Does Restaurant Curry Taste Better?

Because you haven't had to make it! No, joking aside, you'll read lots of recipes that have you making a curry from scratch, frying onions, and prepping all of your ingredients just before cooking.

The truth is that Indian restaurants make curries using the base sauce above. If you haven't used it before, you'll be able to taste the difference immediately.

Why Do Curries Taste Better Then Next Day?

When any spiced dish is left to sit for a while, the spices can infuse with the liquid in the recipe. Imagine them 'brewing' if you will. By leaving a curry sauce overnight, the flavors have time to mix, mingle and intensify. That's why it tastes better.

They've even commissioned scientific studies into it!

How Do I Make My Curry Hotter After Cooking?

Ok, now here's a piece of advice. Don't make your curry base sauce hot. The beauty of base sauce is that it is fairly 'mild'. You can add other hot elements later when you are cooking each individual curry.

If we want to make a curry hotter, we add one of the following to the recipe: -

  • Chopped fresh chilli
  • Black pepper
  • Dried chilli flakes
  • Chilli powder

If you want to know how to make a curry recipe cooler, check out my dedicated guide here


Ok, I don't say this lightly. By making and learning how to use my quick curry base sauce, you'll revolutionise how you make Indian curries and Indian food. It is how the restaurants do it, and by copying them, you'll get very similar results. What's your favorite curry? Leave me a comment and let me know. I'll include it in my latest recipes!

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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