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
- chicken Madras
- Vegetable curry
- Lamb Dopiaza
- 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)
- 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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!