Visit the kitchen of any busy curry house and you are almost certain to see a large saucepan of curry sauce/gravy simmering away on the stove. This sauce is used as a base for most of the restaurant’s curries. Each restaurant has their own special recipe but they are usually quite similar. The base sauce makes it possible for chefs to cook, plate and serve many different curries quickly and easily.
This smooth curry sauce is just one of the things that give British Indian restaurant (BIR) style curries their distinctive flavour and texture that is loved by so many. Cooking curries in a more authentic Indian style just wouldn’t be possible in most restaurants as it would be too labour intensive, overly time consuming and not cost effective.
10 large cooking onions – finely sliced
250ml of vegetable oil
9 tablespoons of garlic and ginger paste
1 carrot – peeled and chopped
¼ head of cabbage – chopped
1 red pepper – diced
1 green pepper – diced
400ml (1 large tin) of chopped tomatoes
4 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter)
1 tablespoon of garam masala powder
1 tablespoon of cumin powder
1 tablespoon of coriander powder
1 tablespoon of fenugreek powder
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1 tablespoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste (I usually leave this out and simply add it to the final dish)
Pour the oil into a large heavy bottomed saucepan and heat over medium high heat until bubbling.
Throw in the sliced onions and fry, stirring regularly for about 20 minutes until the onions are soft, lightly browned and translucent.
Add the peppers, carrot and cabbage and stir to combine.
Fry for a further five minutes and then add the ginger and garlic purees and all of the spices except for the turmeric.
Now add the tomatoes and just enough water to cover the vegetables and simmer for about half an hour.
After 30 minutes, remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Scoop the mixture in batches into a blender and blend until silky smooth. I usually do this for about three minutes per batch. If you have a hand held blender, this stage will be much easier.
Once your sauce is smooth, melt the ghee in a frying pan. Add the turmeric powder to the ghee. It will darken as it cooks. You want to brown it for about 30 seconds being careful not to burn the turmeric.
Now add the turmeric/ghee mixture to the sauce and bring to a simmer again.
Once it is bubbling away, turn down the heat and simmer for a further 20 to 30 minutes.
Use immediately or store in the fridge for up to three days or freeze in 750ml portions for up to three months.
You now have the basic Indian Restaurant curry sauce which you can now recreate any Indian dish you desire by adding to the base gravy.
Adapted from an original recipe by Dan Toombs, The Curry Guy.