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!
Chicken Tikka Masala
Lamb Rogan Josh
Chicken Chilli Garlic
How to Make Restaurant Style Curry Sauce For Use in Many Different Curry Recipes
This simple curry sauce is a must when making curry house style curries.
- 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.
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Saturday 4th of March 2023
Why have you used "cups" as a measure? It's this not an Amrican unit of measure?
Tuesday 7th of March 2023
I tend to give the measurements in cups and ml. I do get a lot of Americans reading my my blog so I try to cater to everyone. Thanks Dan
Sunday 23rd of October 2022
Can you freeze curry base sauce after diluting?
Sunday 30th of October 2022
Yes you can. I just freeze it before diluting to save freezer space.
Sunday 16th of January 2022
Just want to make sure I have this right…if I freeze the thick base sauce into 3 cup portions when I defrost to use I add 3 cups of water to have 6 cups of base ie: enough for 2 r person curry recipes? He f a recipe calls for 3 cups of base you mean 3 cups of base plus water?
Friday 21st of January 2022
Yes, you have all of that correct. Thanks very much. Dan
Thursday 20th of February 2020
Hi Dan I watched you making the dhansak and then made your curry base. I completely messed up as mixed up as cooked turmeric with oil for the base etc etc. Actually, quite a few mistakes however it tastes good but is very thick. Do I add water before freezing the base sauce or just before adding it to a curry recipe once defrosted? I have read all the reviews and questions which has helped a lot as some of your method wasn’t crystal clear but think your recipes look great and I have also ordered your light book from Amazon and can’t wait for it to arrive. Also, my daughter is a veggie so do I cook the veg first or put them into the dhansak sauce raw?
Friday 21st of February 2020
Thank you very much. I hope you enjoy the new book. I usually freeze my base sauce before adding water. This saves freezer space, of which I have very little. When you add the base sauce to a curry, it needs to be diluted. Don't worry too much about exact measures as it just isn't that style of cooking. Add water or stock until the thick sauce is about the same consistency as full fat milk. If adding vegetable, I usually add them raw. You can par cook them but it doesn't take long to cook the veggies in the hot sauce. Hope this helps.
Monday 3rd of February 2020
Can't believe I've been so late to the party discovering this site! I love cooking 'authentic' curries but was missing the curry house hit - hurrah! For anyone else looking at the base sauce, DO watch as a minimum the end of the video as this shows how much you need to water it down - so don't just cook and blend the base sauce, then immediately add say 750ml of that to the madras (or other) recipe, it's 750ml of the watered down sauce that you're adding. My base sauce made 4x 750ml watered down batches. Thank you Dan! Have now downloaded the app.
Monday 3rd of February 2020
Great to hear Katy. Thank you very much. I'm really happy you like the recipe.