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Low Calorie Base Curry Gravy

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This base curry gravy recipe gets excellent results!

This is now my ‘go to’ recipe for base curry gravy these days. It is lighter than the base curry gravy in my first two cookbooks as only a little oil is used. How much oil you use, however is completely down to you. 

Try this base curry gravy in any of my curry house curry recipes. I have given a good list below. You might also like to try it in my new  low calorie chicken jalfrezi or low calorie chicken Ceylon.

I don’t want you to think of this base curry gravy as the diet option though. It might be lighter but is not lacking in flavour!

Low fat base curry sauce

You can make all your favourite curry house curries with this one base curry gravy.

Why make a base curry gravy?

At curry houses up and down the UK, base curry sauces are used so that the chefs can cook and plate their curries quickly. The base curry gravy is what gives curry house style curries their famous flavours and textures. 

The base gravy is quite bland. It has to be as it is used as a base in everything from the mildest korma to the spiciest phal. It is essentially a smooth onion stock with a few other veggies and spices thrown into the mix.

So you wouldn’t eat it on its own. This base gravy is to be used to make curry house style takeaway food at home. 

Once you’ve made the base curry gravy, you can whip up your favourite Indian restaurant curries in minutes. 

Make this recipe your own…

This is a curry house style base sauce with, as mentioned above very little flavour. It does taste good but the magic happens when you used it to make the different curries

That said, if you are only going to be using the base gravy for yourself and family, there is no reason why you can’t spice it up some. 

Getting the flavour right for you.

Base sauces usually don’t have spicy or strong flavoured ingredients in them. Herbs like coriander (cilantro) for example as many people don’t like the strong flavour. If you do, go ahead and throw some in. 

No, the base curry gravy isn’t at all spicy or it couldn’t be used in mild curries. If you like spicy curries, however go ahead and throw in some chillies. Just don’t use it to make a korma for someone who doesn’t like spicy food with it. 

How long does this base sauce last in the fridge?

You can store the sauce in the fridge for about 3 days, covered tightly. 

Can you freeze base gravy?

Yes! Make it and freeze it. Your base curry gravy will be great to have on hand for that last minute curry craving!

I recommend freezing it in portions that are convenient for what you want to cook. Generally speaking, you will need about 250ml (1 cup) of base sauce per person you are serving.

Here are a few famous curries you can make with this base curry gravy:

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

Making base curry sauce

Take a look at the onions, they almost fill the pot. These will reduce while cooking.

Making base curry sauce.

Top the onions with the other veggies, garlic and ginger.

Making low calorie base curry sauce

Cover and simmer with one litre of water.

Making low calorie base curry sauce

Add the spices and a little water if needed and simmer for about five minutes.

Low calorie base curry sauce

Blend until very smooth. Freeze at this point or double the volume with water or stock to use in curries.

Low fat base curry sauce

Ready for the freezer.


Yield: 3 litres

New Low Calorie Base Sauce

New Low Calorie Base Sauce
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 1kg (about 7) brown onions
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 litre water
  • 100g carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 60g cabbage, chopped
  • 50g red pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 50g green pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 x 5cm (2”) ginger – peeled and roughly chopped
  • 200g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground fenugreek
  • 1/2 ttbsp turmeric


  1. Finely slice the onions by hand or with a food processor. Heat the oil in a large stockpot. When hot add the sliced onions and stir them well until evenly coated with the hot oil. Continue to stir for about five minutes until soft and fragrant and then add all of the remaining ingredients up to the chopped tomatoes.
  2. Add about a litre of water, cover the pot and allow to simmer over medium heat for about an hour. The vegetables will become soft in the stock and it should also reduce by about half. add the ground spices and simmer for a futher 5 minutes.
  3. Using a stick blender or countertop blender, blend until very smooth. You shouldn’t see any chunks!
  4. If you are thinking about freezing any of the stock, this is the perfect time to do so. Freezing the thick sauce like this will save freezer space. To use in your curries, you need to stir in enough water or stock until it is the same consistency as full fat milk. So very runny! This base stock will keep in the fridge for about a week and it can be frozen for up to four months.

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I hope you enjoy making and experimenting with this base sauce recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment and let me know. 


Thursday 23rd of June 2022

It says the yield is 3 litres, but I got just under 2 litres. I doubt that I missed anything. I even used more veg - 1.2 kg of onions, 150g peppers, 155g carrots, 75g cabbage.

Caroline Toombs

Monday 4th of July 2022

Thanks for your message but this is not an exact science as a lot of determining factors are involved. It is a bit of trial and error so next time you could alter the recipe a bit to ensure you have enough. Kind regards Dan


Thursday 3rd of February 2022

hi, has anyone worked out the nutritional information on this? thanks

Dan Toombs

Friday 4th of February 2022

I'm afraid I don't have that information. Thanks Dan


Thursday 27th of January 2022

These looks great even for a eat of its own! ( I admit that when I'm making vegetable puree always I put curry powder...)

Dan Toombs

Friday 28th of January 2022

Thanks very much. Dan


Tuesday 9th of February 2021

Hi Dan, I’m late to the party, but wanted to try your low fat version as I find the usual ones to contain too much oil or cream. And I must say this one is great, probably one of the better one’s I’ve made lately and even my partner thought so. I used it in your low fat chicken tikka masala, end result was fantastic, so thanks again.

Dan Toombs

Thursday 11th of February 2021

Great to hear. Thanks very much. Dan


Friday 22nd of February 2019

Hi Been using the large batch recipe for a while now and it is great. And I am going to try the healthier one however I have One question though The large batch says to use 250 ml of vegetable oil but this recipe is only 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil Is this correct? Or is it because of the type of oil?

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 26th of February 2019

Hi Joe

Thanks for getting in touch. Traditionally, the base sauce, like in my book is made with a lot of oil. The oil is often just stirred back in which is why takeaway curries are sometimes very oily. Most chefs these days skim the oil and use it as seasoned oil for their curries. This recipe is my new low fat version. Oil does make cooking easier but you don't need a lot. In fact, this recipe will get you almost identical results. One thing oil does is reduce the aroma in your kitchen while cooking. So cooking the base with less oil will make your kitchen smell of curry a bit longer. Hope this helps, Dan

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