This article will show you how to make a delicious base gravy for your Indian restaurant curries. It can be used as a base sauce for practically any Indian curry recipes because there is only a touch of chili powder in it. Each separate recipe – whether a Madras, or a jalfrezi, or even a mild korma – is then made and the chili heat adjusted accordingly.
This is Part 3 of the series. In Part 1, we looked at what components are needed to make a tasty Indian curry. Then in Part 2, we went on to create a spice mix powder suitable both for adding flavor to the final dish, but also to incorporate into the gravy itself.
Let’s get cooking! Here’s the curry base sauce recipe I’ve been using for the past few years with delicious results.
Indian Curry Base Ingredients
- 2 large white onions
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 inch cube of ginger
- 1 medium sized carrot
- 1 stick of celery
- quarter of a green bell pepper
- quarter of red bell pepper
- 2 tomatoes
- handful of fresh cilantro
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (or puree)
- 25 fl oz (750 ml) water
- 2.5 fl oz (75 ml) vegetable oil
- 1 tsp Madras powder (store bought)
- 1 tbsp Mix Powder
- 0.5 tsp salt
Preparing the Curry Base Gravy
The first thing to do is roughly chop all the vegetables. and put them into a large pan. As cooking goes, this one is a piece of cake – chop, pan, oil and water, simmer. Simple as that.
Note – at this point do not add the cilantro (coriander) or the spice mixes.
After simmering the gravy for 45 minutes, add the salt, coriander, the Madras curry powder and the mix powder. Continue cooking for a further 15 minutes.
After simmering at a gentle boil for 60 minutes, all the ingredients will be soft and cooked through. The flavors will have incorporated into the stock with all the spices.
Cool and Blend the Sauce
Let the mixture cool for a while. It is NOT advisable to start blending hot cooking broths and liquids while they are still very hot, because this can cause the entire mixture to explode everywhere! Let it cool down for a while.
Then you can blend to a smooth paste using a hand blender or by taking portions and liquidizing it in a food processor.
Once you have blended it, you can portion it out into separate Tupperware or other air-tight containers. It will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. I normally freeze them. For storage, I use roughly half a pint, or about 1 cup of sauce to serve two people.
So that’s the Indian base gravy ready for use in any curry you like. I’ll show you a wonderful spicy chicken Madras in the final part of the series, so we can go through how to put it all together. Then periodically I’ll share some other great Indian curries which also use the mix powder and the base gravy. Until next time!
I mentioned in the update to my Mix Powder blog post that I’ve been researching more examples of spice mixes and other BIR recipes. I wanted to try out a few curries using Misty Ricardo’s spice combo and base gravy.
So as I like to record all my kitchen experimentations, here’s the instructions in video format from Misty’s Youtube channel – plus my notes below.
Remember to let the sauce cool down a little before blending, especially if (like me) you use a food processor. Otherwise you risk sucking cool air into the mix, which will rapidly expand and explode your hot curry sauce everywhere!
Spice Cauldron’s New Spice Cauldron
Well, just for the purposes of making large batches of base gravy, I went out and bought a 5.5-litre stock pot – it’s a proper cauldron now!
I followed the instructions as described in the video above. The new pot was a good cheap one, and is a little bit on the thin side. I found in stage one I had to watch it like a hawk as the onions had a tendency to catch on the bottom of the pan.
Any burning at this stage means disaster – if you burn the onions, start again! (It’s not a great thing to happen if you have to chuck out a whole kilo of onions.)
I scaled the recipe quantities down based on 1 Kg of onions rather than 1.5 Kg.
Phase 1 – Sweating the Onions
Cook vegetables for 5 minutes. Then turn down heat, cover and cook on low for 1 hour. Watch them CAREFULLY! Stir as necessary.
Phase 2 – Spicing Up the Stock
Add the spice powders, stir, then add the tomato puree and coconut ingredient (I used coconut milk here rather than cream). Stir again and then add the water. Cover, bring to boil, and then simmer for a further hour.
Phase 3 – Cool and Blitz
A few minutes before the end of Phase 2, add the fresh coriander (cilantro). Then cool somewhat. If you have a stick blender, use it to blitz the mixture into a smooth sauce. I used my food processor with the soup attachment and did it in batches.
If any of you have a good way of scrubbing turmeric stains out of white plastic kitchen items, I’d LOVE to hear about it in the comments. There’s no shifting that stuff!
Anyway, after blending, here’s the result.
Phase 4 – Final Simmer to Deepen Flavours
Reheat the blended gravy to a gentle simmer and keep going for a final 30 minutes to really bring all those flavours together.
Then cool and portion out. This freezes really well, so it makes sense to do it in nice large batches. Just make sure it’s all cooled properly to room temperature before sticking it in the freezer.
That’s it! Misty Ricardo’s base gravy version. I now have a whole load of this sitting in my freezer. So I’ll be posting some more famous BIR curries on the site using this version. In the meantime feel free to check out his Youtube channel for a whole selection of fantastic spicy curry recipes.