Indian Curry Base
Indian curry base
We call Indian curry base “masala” which means the gravy or sauce element in the dish. It’s also the generic term for spices. This is my go to easy recipe for a versatile tomato base that you can use for chicken, prawns, lamb or chick peas! It’s made using the minimum of spices but still packs a great flavour. Anyone can make it. So read on and have a go.
2 large onions finely chopped. We used 2 tablespoons of chopped onion. Red or white doesn't matter. We always use red onions.
2 large chopped tomatoes. Do use fresh if you can. We used 3 large tablespoons of chopped fresh tomatoes. The local ones are fine.
One teaspoon of fresh finely chopped garlic. Do a batch and store in your fridge, so useful for many dishes. The ready made paste doesn't taste the same.
One teaspoon of fresh finely chopped ginger. You can use Indian or Chinese ginger. We used the Chinese ginger. Do a batch and store in your fridge, so useful for many dishes. The ready made paste doesn't taste the same.
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder.
- red chilli powder
Up to you, if you get Kashmiri red chili powder it's more for colour and some heat. So I used just under 1 teaspoon.
Just under 1 teaspoon of any salt, not rock salt though.
- oil for frying
I use grapeseed oil. Don't use olive oil. It's too heavy.
How to Make
- Saute the onions on medium heat
Heat the oil and then saute the onions till they are light brown. Keep moving them around.
- add in garlic and ginger then fry
Stir around and fry the garlic and ginger into the onions till whole mixture smells fragrant and aromatic, there should be a little change of colour but careful the ingredients don't burn!
- add in tomatoes and mix well
Keep the heat on low and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, watching the mixture doesn't dry out. It shouldn't do as the tomatoes have a lot of liquid in them.
- add in spices salt turmeric and chilli
Add the spices and stir well just after you've added the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes or so and mash up the mixture as you are cooking.
- transfer to a blender and whizz up or not your choice
If you want to, we generally do, take the mixture to a blender and whizz up with a little cold water. But it you want a thicker gravy or sauce, use the Indian curry base as it is.
NOTE really great to store in containers and freeze so you can use when you need to.
Add coconut milk with water to make a South Indian base for prawn curry. Saute some curry leaves and mustard seeds to add at the end.
Quick Shopping List
- Oil to fry – not olive oil
- Red chilli powder
CLICK the picture to see the steps
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Which spices do you add to your curries, what makes the flavour special to you ?
Chat with me about your curry making by leaving a comment below please.
Much appreciated, Monica.
I always go for turmeric and chilli!
When I make a curry I have a selection of spices before me and using the sense of smell play with different combinations which always seems to work…but when I’m complimented on the curry I couldn’t give an answer as to what I’ve put in it. Do you create in a similar way knowing instinctively what spice supports another or just like me play with different combinations and wait to see what happens
I love to use Star Anise along with cardamom in making the accompanying rice.