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 the base curry gravy 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.
Here are a few popular curries you can make with the base sauce.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, covered for about 45 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.