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Base Curry Gravy Recipe from The Curry Guy Cookbook

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This is the base curry gravy recipe from my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy’.

With this authentic curry house style sauce, you can make everything from the mildest korma up to the spiciest vindaloo in minutes. This sauce is bland just like a good chicken stock is bland.

The magic happens when you use it to prepare your favourite curries

Base gravy for curry house curries

This base gravy gets amazing results!

Curry gravy is an essential part of preparing curries at the best curry houses!

If you have followed my blog for a while, you will probably know that I have a few base curry gravy (or sauce) recipes on this site. The one that most people know, from my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy’, is this one. 

This base curry gravy works really well and I use it often. The thing is, there are so many different ways to make base curry gravy. They are all quite similar though. 

The curry gravy recipe you will find below is a down scaled version of the base curry sauce that features in ‘The Curry Guy’. It is the recipe I use most often and also teach at my curry classes.

What exactly is a base curry gravy?

The base curry gravy is essentially just an onion stock with a few other veggies and spices thrown in.

Popular curry houses prepare upwards of one hundred plus curries every night. The base sauce/gravy is used so that they can cook and plate each of their curries, from mild to spicy quickly.

If you visit the kitchen of any busy curry house or Indian takeaway, you are certain to find a big pot of base gravy cooking away on the stove to use as needed.

The base gravy is a convenient and economical way of preparing curries fast rather than having to make different base masalas for each curry.

Is this sauce used at authentic Indian restaurants?

Not usually though I have see it used at a few.

Most authentic Indian restaurants will have their chefs cook up the curries, creating each individually. This is fantastic but it’s also why more authentic restaurants can be quite a lot more expensive. Cooking that way takes more time and you see it on your bill at the end of the evening.

Why would I want to make a base curry sauce/gravy?

If you enjoy the most popular curries served at UK curry houses, you need to make this. The base sauce is what gives curry house style curries their unique flavour and texture. Without it, your chicken tikka masala might still be good but it won’t be like what you get at your favourite curry house restaurant.

The base curry gravy is the secret behind the curry house curries. With it you can cook everything from the mildest korma to the spiciest phal in minutes.

How long does the sauce keep in the fridge?

You can store the sauce, covered in your fridge for up to 4 days. It’s great to have on hand so make some now!

Can you freeze the sauce/gravy?

Yes! You can freeze the base gravy for up to 6 months. If you do this, I recommend storing it in portion sizes that are convenient for how you will be using it.

I usually store mine in 500ml portions which is enough to serve 2 to 3. It is a good idea to freeze the sauce before thinning it with water. This saves freezer space and you can always dilute it when you heat it back up. 

When ready to use your base gravy, let it defrost and then heat it up in a pan

Adding oil to pan

Start by pouring in the oil.

Adding the onions to make base curry gravy

Adding the most important ingredient, onions.

Add the remaining veggies

Top with the remaining veggies.

Adding salt

Add the salt and give it all a good stir.

simmering the gravy

Top with water, almost to the top of the pan, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

Adding spices

After 45 minutes, add the spices. The liquid will have reduce some.

Making base curry gravy

Stir in the garlic and ginger and then top up with water again. Simmer for 30 minutes.

base gravy after further 30 minutes simmer

After 30 minutes, the sauce will look like this.

Blending sauce

Blend the sauce until smooth.

base curry gravy

It needs to be really smooth with not lumps.

Finishing the base gravy by adding water

Add water to the top. You will have 3 litres of base gravy to use in your curries.

Here are a few popular curries you can make with the base sauce.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Korma
Lamb Rogan Josh
Chicken Madras
Chicken Dhansak
Lamb Vindaloo
Chicken Chilli Garlic
Chicken Patia
Lamb Bhuna

Yield: 3 liters

Curry Gravy Recipe from The Curry Guy Cookbook

Base gravy for curry house curries
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 900 (2 lbs) (about 7) Spanish onions, roughly chopped
  • 250 (1 cup) rapeseed oil*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 110g (1/4 lb) carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 60g (2 1/8 oz) cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 85g (3 oz) red pepper (bell pepper), deseeded and diced
  • 85g (3 oz) green pepper (bell pepper), deseeded and diced
  • 200g (1 cup) about 4 chopped tomatoes
  • 5 tbsp garlic and ginger paste (see page 00)
  • 1 ½ tbsp garam masala (see page 00)
  • 1 ½ tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground fenugreek (optional)
  • 1/2 tbsp ground turmeric


  1. Place the onions in a 3-litre (3 US quart) stockpot over medium heat and add the salt and oil.  Give it a good
    stir and then add the remaining vegetable and just enough water to cover.
  2. You will be simmering this for some time so do not fill the pan to the rim. The water level should be about 5cm (2 inches) from the top.
  3. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, covered for about 45 minutes.  
  4. After 45 minutes, your vegetables will be much softer and the liquid will have reduced some. Add the remaining ingredients and top up with water so that the water level is again about 5cm (2 inches) from the top. Take this as a
    guide. If you don’t need to add water at this time, you don’t need to.
  5. Continue simmering for another 30 minutes. When the oil rises to the top and your veggies good and soft, you’re ready to blend. Carefully skim the seasoned oil off the top for use in your curries or just leave it in the sauce
    if you like.
  6. Using a hand-held blender, blend for about 4 minutes until the sauce is super smooth, with no chunks and not at all grainy. This step can be done in batches in a blender. If you have a good blender, you might not need to blend
    as long to achieve that smooth consistency.
  7. At this stage, the blended sauce might be quite thick. Add water until the sauce is about the same consistency as full fat milk or single cream. Sometimes I need to pour the sauce into a larger bowl to do this.
  8. Use immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze in small portions of between 500ml (2 cups) or 750ml (3 cups) for use later. The sauce can be frozen for up to three months.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 62Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 307mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g

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Saturday 15th of June 2024

Hey - thanks for all the great recipes! Is the 1 Tbsp fenugreek supposed to be the seeds, or the leaves? TIA!


Monday 17th of June 2024

@Dan Toombs, Thanks so much I really appreciate it.

Dan Toombs

Sunday 16th of June 2024

It’s the leaves. Thanks Dan


Monday 1st of April 2024

What is the point of that large quantity of oil if you're not frying the vegetables before boiling them? And if you can skim it off at the end? How different would this be if I just boiled the vegetables with less or no oil?

Dan Toombs

Thursday 18th of April 2024

The oil just adds another dimension of flavour. You could reduce or even omit the oil but the base sauce would lose something I think. Even though you skim it off at the end, the oil has still imparted its flavour into the sauce. Thanks very much. Dan


Thursday 14th of March 2024

Does it improve the flavour if you fry the onions first please?

Dan Toombs

Monday 18th of March 2024

There is no need to do that as all the flavour will come from the individual curry ingredients. The base sauce is meant to be bland to use as a base in your various curries. Thanks Dan


Monday 9th of October 2023

I make this up, and can the sauce in pint jars so it is shelf stable. Then I just grab a jar when I am making Indian. Great recipe!

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 17th of October 2023

Sounds great, thanks for letting me know. Dan


Wednesday 27th of September 2023

Hi! Looking forward to this making the difference to my efforts, together with your recipes in general. 1 quick question:

Recipe shows 'rapeseed oil*'

What does the asterisk denote? Ghee maybe?

Apologies if I've missed it on the page.

Dan Toombs

Thursday 28th of September 2023

I think it is just a typo. you can use ghee and they used to in the old days but it’s quite expensive. You can make it with little or no oil but I am trying to make it as authentic as possible. thanks Dan

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