This is an easy and delicious restaurant style curry sauce!
Almost every British Indian curry house has it’s own curry sauce recipe.
These curry sauces are made in large batches and used as a base ingredient for many different curries.
The base sauce was developed over the years to make cooking curries faster and more economical. This secret sauce is also what gives curry house style curries their unique texture and flavour.
Making the base sauce
For best results at home, you will want to make a large batch of the sauce just as they do in curry houses.
There is simply no substitute for the large batch that has been slowly cooked to perfection.
So I highly recommend taking a peak at my authentic large scale curry house sauce. It freezes well too so you can make an amazing BIR (British Indian Restaurant) style curry in minutes whenever you want one.
This is a scaled down version which will work perfectly well for those of you who want to make an Indian takeaway style curry for four people.
The concept behind the secret base sauce
Think of the curry sauce as you would a vegetable stock. It is quite bland but when you add different spices to it you can make your favourite curries very fast.
Over the years I have tried many different recipes for curry sauce and most of them are quite similar. On my home page, you will find all the Indian restaurant classics that you can make with this simple sauce.
Although you do need to take an hour or so to make it, this base sauce recipe will save you hours in cooking time if you like your curry.
Rather than cooking a curry the more traditional and authentic way, frying onions, garlic, tomatoes etc. to make a base masala, the work it all done for you with this sauce.
Do I have to make a base sauce to get curry house quality curries?
Yes! This base sauce is one of the most important ingredients in curry house style curries.
That said, you could still make them using more traditional methods. They just won’t be the smooth curries you might be used to.
In this recipe for chicken Balti, I didn’t use a base sauce. In this recipe for chicken balti I did use a base sauce.
Both curry recipes are the same except one uses more authentic methods and one uses a base sauce.
Check out the difference in the finished curries below…
The chicken balti without base sauce above was still delicious. It was just different to what you would get at a Balti house restaurant.
As you can see above, the Balti using a base sauce is thicker and god was it good. This thick balti is perfect for scooping up with naans.
Base sauce curries aren’t always thick though. Try some of my other curry house style recipes with base sauce below.
International & UK Orders
Can the base sauce be frozen?
Yes. It freezes really well.
When you first blend the sauce it will be quite thick. This is the perfect time to portion it out and freeze it.
To use in your curries, however, the base sauce needs to be diluted with water or stock until it is about the same consistency as full fat milk or single cream.
So get some of this secret base sauce in the freezer. You will be able to whip up a delicious curry house style curry whenever you want it.
Here are a few curry house style recipes you can use this base curry sauce in now!
- 3 tennis ball sized cooking onions – finely sliced
- 50ml vegetable oil or ghee
- 3 cloves of garlic – smashed in their skins
- 1 inch piece of ginger – finely sliced
- 1 inch carrot - peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup shredded cabbage (optional)
- ¼ red bell pepper - diced
- 2 tomatoes - finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 pinch turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste ( I usually leave this out and simply add it to the final dish)
- Place the ginger and garlic with a drop of the water in a blender and pulverize to a smooth paste. Set aside.
- Now pour the oil/ghee into a large heavy bottomed saucepan and heat until bubbling.
- Throw in the sliced onions, bell pepper, carrot and cabbage and cook slowly over a medium heat in the oil.
- Allow the vegetables to fry - stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. You want to brown the vegetable lightly but not burn them.
- When the onions are translucent and soft, add the ginger and garlic mixture the rest of the spices except for the turmeric.
- Finally, add the tomatoes and just enough water to cover the vegetables.
- Bring to a boil and then place the lid on the pan and turn the temperature down to low.
- Simmer for about 15 minutes. As you do this, a froth will rise to the top. This is okay. No need to skim.
- After 15 minutes, remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- For a smoother sauce, popular in many Indian takeaways, simply blend for about two minutes. It is perfectly good unblended though.
- Once your sauce is to your liking, melt the ghee in a frying pan. Add the turmeric powder. It will darken as it cooks. You want to brown it for about a minute.
- 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 15 minutes. Stop simmering if the sauce becomes too thick.
- Use immediately or store in the fridge for up to four days.