Curry in a Hurry! Simple Curry Base Recipe

Do you love Indian style curries, but don’t make them at home because you think they take too much time?  Or effort?  Or skill?  Do you make curries at home, only to find that they’re nothing like the ones you order at your favorite restaurant? I’m going to let you in on a little secret…something I do, sometimes, to help save time.  Ready?  Here it goes:

It doesn’t look like much, I know.  And, most traditional Indian cooks would not make so much gravy at one time…or freeze it.  In fact, In India they don’t freeze much of anything (in my experience).  But, luckily for you…and me…I’m not a traditional Indian cook.

The idea came to me while Piyush and I were dining out one night…I wanted to know how the restaurant could offer so many different curries, and have them on the table in so little time.  So, I asked…and I was told that they use a base and then add things to it to make whatever was ordered.  Genius!

I prefer my food to be homemade, healthy, flavorful and fast.  There are some days that nothing sounds better to me than slaving over the hot stove, mixing spices and nurturing along a delicious, slow cooked curry.  Those “some days” are not most days.  Usually I’m busy or tired and I just don’t feel like cooking much.  Now that Spring is here, my days off will mostly be spent tending to my gardens and re-staining my deck.  So, I figured that if Indian restaurants can make a base gravy to make many different curries, fast, then why can’t a home-cook?

This is a really easy method, the curry is flavorful…but not spiced too heavily.  After all, you want to use this simple gravy to make anything from Chicken Tikka Masala to Vegetable Korma.  It can be used with veggies, chicken, and lamb (although I will say that if you choose to make a lamb dish…you really do have to cook it low and slow to get the best results.  I, personally, would probably not use this curry base in that instance).

From start to finish you’ll have to invest about an hour and a half to two hours—-depending how long it  takes you to cut 10 onions.  I was lucky.  No crying for this girl!  I was done slicing them all in about 10 minutes—but, there have been certain onions in my past that were really vicious and took a good 20 minutes (and many tears) to get through!

10 sliced onions…and not a single tear shed.  Victory!

This recipe will yield approximately 12 cups, you could add more water to increase the amount of gravy—just don’t water it down too much!  Using my recipe, each cup of gravy is equal to a little less than 100 calories.  Isn’t that exciting!?  Depending on what curry you decide to make, one batch of curry gravy should make anywhere from 4 to 7 curries.  Maybe even 8.  Gnarly, huh?!

As I use the gravy, I’ll post recipes for different curries—a lot of them will be my versions of popular dishes served at some of my favorite restaurants.  In fact, when I start cooking a dish, I keep my local restaurants take out menu near-by.  I can work off their descriptions and tweak the dishes so that they taste similiar.

Last night I used it to make Chicken Jalfrezi—and it was awesome!!!

The Spice Mix:

Some of my most-used spices: Green cardamom, Whole Cloves, Paprika, Mustard Seeds, Turmeric, Cumin Seeds, and Garam Masala

  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon  coriander (seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon  fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (this is not hot, it mostly just gives color)
  • 1 small 1″ piece of cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 green Cardamom pods- crushed
  • 1 large bayleaf

Mix all spices together in a bowl.  Take a smell…they should smell a little pungent, but mostly good!  The smell will change a lot once they’re added to the oil/ghee.  Set your masala mix aside.


  • 10 onions- baseball sized- sliced pretty thin
  • 1 carrot – peeled and chopped (use 2 if you want!)
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 12 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (I used Hunts brand canned tomatoes)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp. ghee
  • salt/pepper to taste (I added a little salt, but left out pepper.  I can add this to the individual curries I make)


  • Heat oil and ghee in a large pan, over medium high heat.  Once it’s nice and hot, toss in your masala mix.  Fry the spices-being careful nothing burns.  Stir around a while until everything is nice and fragrant…and no longer raw.  Add the ginger and garlic.  Stir-fry for a minute or so, just until it lets off a nice smell.  Add the onions.  Mix everything together really well so that the onions are covered with the masala.

The onions are covered with the masala mixture and are starting to reduce in size.

  • While the onions cook down, slice the red bell pepper and grate the carrot.  Once the onions have gone soft and translucent (they will also shrink quite a lot), add the bell pepper and carrot.

  • Cook the vegetables until they go soft (you could also toss in about a cup of shredded cabbage, if you want).  Once the vegetables have softened properly, add the tomatoes and water to the mixture.  Stir everything together, mixing well.

  • Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about a half hour.  Once it’s well cooked and all the flavors have had a little time to mingle, pull out your blender.  Working in batches (I had to do three batches), blend the mixture into a smooth, creamy looking gravy.

My beloved Vitamix. This thing is a curry-lovin’ girl’s best friend. It makes your dish look so velvety. (I forgot to take the photo with gravy actually in it)

The finished gravy will look something like this:

please forgive the photo, I forgot to get one once I dumped it all back in the pan!

  • Pour all the gravy back into the pan and simmer for about 15 to 20 more minutes.  You can taste the gravy—it’ll be a little bland will desperately need salt.  Fear not!  This under-seasoned gravy will go on to become many, many  great curries!
  • Once you’ve let everything cool for a while, pour it into containers to freeze/use.  You can keep it in your fridge for a few days, but any longer you should freeze it.  It’ll keep really well, I promise!

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I used the base gravy last night, and made Chicken Jalfrezi.  It was wonderful!  Flavorful.  Healthy. Fast!  …It seriously took 15 minutes (ignoring the time the chicken marinates) to make this:

…As good as any Restaurant! Piyush gave it 2 thumbs up.  (it should be a little less watery, but that’s my fault.  I added the water. doh!)

The curry base was a huge success!!!  If you love curries, but you’re too busy to make them at home…I hope you give this method a try!

Chicken Jalfrezi Recipe to come!  It’s too good not to share!


130 thoughts on “Curry in a Hurry! Simple Curry Base Recipe

  1. Pingback: Chicken Jalfrezi « My Fancy Pantry

  2. jennythenipper

    Do you use oil or ghee? I have been using coconut oil mostly, and occasionally ghee. I made ghee at home and it turned out well, but it didn’t last as long as the storebought stuff (I Probably didn’t boil off/strain all of the milk solids). Lately my preference has been for a mix of coconut oil and ghee used for flavoring at the end (as a finishing touch to lentil dishes, for example.)

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello, Jenny!

      I love ghee! It’s about 100 calories a tbsp (the store-boughten kind….I haven’t made it yet), but it is very high in saturated fat! If you’re trying to replicate your favorite curry from your local take-away, ghee will definitely be needed! You’re absolutely right about using ghee as flavoring to finish a dish. Usually I won’t even add it to the dish, but I’ll add it to the rice instead.

      I think that’s so awesome that you make your own ghee!!!

      When I cook, I use a mix of olive oil/ghee–or just olive oil. I have cooked with coconut oil, and I like that too, I just forget to replenish my stock when it’s all gone!

  3. Pingback: Chicken Tikka Masala! « My Fancy Pantry

  4. Barbra & Jack Donachy

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve had a craving for curry for awhile. I’ve been researching the spice mix. This idea of making the gravy in a large quantity and having it ready for later is perfect for our lifestyle. We make large quantities of stews and soups to use throughout the year. Keeps us away from those nasty chemicals that companies litter their food with, too! I will save your recipe for our fall cooking. Thanks again for posting this!
    Greetings from north of the Arctic Circle.

    1. Shari Post author

      I’m glad you found my blog!!! 🙂 Yes, making the curry gravy in large batches works like a charm! It tastes so fresh, no one would ever know you “cheated.” I’ll be posting more recipes that use the curry base, as well!

      What is your favorite soup to freeze?

  5. Marie

    Making ghee is very, very simple. And very much worth it. The store bought kind is most often stale and gives a bad aftertaste to the dishes. Google how to make it (really, very simple!) and you will not believe the difference! I know you can make it! You are an amazing cook! I freeze mine in an ice cube tray so I always have “fresh” ghee on hand! Doesn’t go stale!
    Thanks a bunch for the curry base recipe. Making a batch as we speak. Smells wonderful. 😀

  6. Teresa

    I am so pleased that someone is helping out novices to the curry world. I have always been alittle timid when it comes to using all of the different spices but the way you have it I even think I might be able to make gravy lol. I will let you know how it turns out.
    I have a question. I love the yellow chicken curry. You know the one we saw for years. Do you know a simple version of that. Also, I have a family who can only handle mild food. Is the gravy very spicy, if so how would I be able to cool it down?

    1. Shari Post author

      This curry base is very, very mild. Not spicy in the least. When you use it to make an actual curry, simply cut down on the amount of fresh or ground chili.

      Yogurt is a great cooling agent.

      The yellow chicken curry…hmmm…Indian? or Thai?

  7. Roy

    Can the gravy be frozen in batches for later use? I was little worried about the mixture separating and becoming watery when thawed.

    1. Shari Post author

      I was worried about that too. I have frozen curries before and had that happen, but because the base contains no yogurt and no cream…it shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, I freeze all of my gravy in 1 c. portions. To make the Chicken Tikka Masala I actually used some of the frozen gravy. It was just as perfect as the day I froze it!

      Make sure you don’t throw it in the freezer until it is properly cooled though—this will help keep excess vapor from forming.

  8. Pingback: Vegetarian (Vegan) Korma –A Sweet and Mild Indian Curry « My Fancy Pantry

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  11. Jon

    Hello, this looks great. One quick question, though: do you remove the bay leaf and/or other whole spices before blending? Thanks!

    1. Shari Post author

      I actually don’t remove the spices. I blend everything together. The result is a beautifully light-spiced gravy…perfect for making lots of curries!

  12. Pingback: (Accidently) Spicy Vegetarian Cauliflower Curry…and a Trip to the Farmer’s Market « My Fancy Pantry

  13. Peachie

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I made it yesterday and made the Korma today. YUM! Your recipes are easy and well written – thank you.

    One question – When I don’t have cardamom pods, is it okay to use ground cardamom? I’m not quite sure why pods are used and don’t always have the pods.

    1. Shari Post author

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the recipes!

      You can definitely use ground cardamom. You don’t need much though! I’d recommend adding it 1/4 tsp. at a time and taste as you go. I just googled it, and learned that 1 whole cardamom pod is equal to 1/6 tsp. ground.

  14. Calgarian

    Hi, I have found yours base curry recipe quite interesting .Could you please post some more Indian recipes in which this base curry can be used especially some ones which are using Chicken or cheese (paneer)


  15. Pingback: Bhindi Masala (Okra/Ladies Finger Dry Curry) « My Fancy Pantry

  16. Jenn

    Hi there,

    I’m really, really eager to make this!! I do have one question though. Is it ok to substitute vegetable oil with coconut oil or olive oil?

    1. Shari Post author

      I’m glad to hear that!!!

      To answer your question, yes. It’s perfectly acceptable. In fact, I often use olive oil instead of veg. oil.

  17. JoAnne

    Hi Shari, I was looking for a healthy version of mild Thai yellow curry sauce (almost like looking for the holy grail) and found your site instead. I really enjoy Indian food too, except I always run into the problem of the food being too spicy for me, but am so glad to find this mild curry recipe! I’ve avoided cooking Indian food before, thinking that it was too complicated, but you make it sound easy enough to try. You mentioned that you freeze them in 1 cup amounts, and I was wonder what you use to freeze them in? How long will it last in the freezer? Also, how much does 1 cups of sauce become when used in an entree.. i.e. how many servings? I cook for only for myself so I wouldn’t want to make too large of a serving that I couldn’t eat in a few days. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Shari Post author


      I typically freeze my base in 1, 2 or 4 cup containers I purchase from the Dollar Store. They’re very similar to take out containers you might get at a deli.

      I find they last quite awhile in the freezer, I’ve used some that was about 3 months old and it still tasted fresh and new.

      1 cup of sauce in an entree…it really depends on which curry you are making. Most of the curries on my site feed about 4-6 people, so you’d probably have to do some math and figure out exactly how much you’d need to scale the recipe down.

      If the recipe does not include cream, milk or yogurt…it can definitely be frozen, and it’ll taste wonderful for at least 3 months. If a recipe does include cream, milk or yogurt…you could always set aside portions to freeze before adding these ingredients, and then when you re-heat the food you can toss a little in then.

  18. JoAnne

    I forgot to ask.. can you substitute fresh tomatoes for canned tomatoes? And if so, how many cups worth of tomatoes would you use, and would you take out the seeds first before chopping up? Thanks!

    Also any secrets to cutting so many onions without crying? I had to make do with less onion than I wanted because my eyes were stinging so badly..

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello JoAnne!

      I’ve made it with fresh tomatoes many times, and also less onions.

      Instead of using small onions, I’ve used 3 giant ones. I also tossed in a few pounds of fresh heirloom tomatoes (seeds and peels included—it all gets blended up anyway).

      If you decide to use fresh tomatoes, my only suggestion would be to taste as you go. You may need to add a little sugar or even a little lemon juice. Just remember, the base should be fragrant and will smell like a nice curry, but the taste will be flat. This is because I never add salt to the base (you definitely could if you wanted), but instead wait until I have made my final curry before adding the salt.

      I hope this helps!


      1. JoAnne

        Thanks Shari for your reply and the tips! How do you manage to cut so many onions without tearing up.. any special techniques? I have a hard time cutting onions because my eyes wind up stinging badly. Thanks!

      2. Shari Post author


        I have the same problem, unfortunately. You should see me dance around my kitchen, rubbing my eyes, and cursing! It’s probably hilarious, but it’s definitely not fun.

        What I try to do is to just chop as fast as I can. I try to use HUGE onions instead of small ones, this way I can cut less but still end up with the same amount.

        Another thing you could do when making indian food (most of the time, anyway) is to grind your onions up in the food processor. You’ll end up with an onion paste and tons of onion juice too, but the water will evaporate when cooking…so that’s not a problem.

        I hope this helps!

      3. Sarah

        I know this is an older thread but a couple folks asked about chopping onions without crying, cursing, etc. but this trick has saved my cooking life! Annick Giroux in Hellbent for Cooking suggests placing your chopping board on the front burner of your stove and turning on the rear burner, with a pan, if you’re cooking immediately, with a tea kettle if you’re not. This creates a convection current that pulls the onion vapors away from your face (and I think breaks them down a bit?). An onion has never made me cry since! It’s absolutely brilliant. For the chemistry nerd, onions make you cry because the act of cutting produces a vapor that mixes with water (like the water in your eyes) to create an acid.

        I also have a friend who wears goggles when she cuts onions…

      4. Kade Azkyroth

        So, the substitution ratio is 3 giant onions to 10 “baseball-sized?” That’s about consistent with my calculations (a regulation baseball’s upper circumference limit of 9.25in implies about 13in^3 volume, whereas my 13in circumference sample onion is about 37in^3). Also good to know.

        I’d suggest adding the “or 3 giant ones” suggestion into the main body of the ingredient list, though.

  19. JoAnne

    Hi Shari!

    I posted twice several days ago, and although you replied to one of them, the other post says “Your comment is awaiting moderation”.. so I’m not sure if you saw it, but I’m posting the question part of my post again in hopes that you will see it.

    You mentioned that you freeze the the curry base in 1 cup amounts.. what do you use to freeze them in? How long will it last in the freezer? Does 1 cup of sauce equal 1 serving? Thanks!

  20. Quimby

    Hello. I have found several recipes similar to yours, but none tell how to use the base to make a dish. Most recipes for curry that I find assume that I am NOT using a base. So my base sits around useless. Can you tell me how to substitute my base into a recipe that doesn’t know I have a base? Thanks a lot. Q

    1. Shari Post author


      When I create a dish using my curry base, I will typically use between 1 cup to 3 cups of base per curry. How much I use depends on how many tomatoes and onions the recipe calls for. For something with poultry or a recipe that yields a lot of curry, I’ll use 3 cups. For something that uses less protein or vegetables (a shrimp curry, perhaps) I would tend to stick with the 1 cup. If you find that you use too much base, you can try to remedy that by adding a little bit of sugar (will help cut any additional acidity from the tomatoes). If your curry is meat based, you could also try adding a little stock to see if that helps.

      I hope this helps. Thank you for the question! I think I’ll do a whole post on that soon!

      1. Lori Petrie

        Thanks so much for the recipes, Shari. I’ve just discovered your website and am going to make the curry base tomorrow. I don’t have a vitamix, sadly, and am wondering if the cinnamon will completely grind. Can I use preground cinnamon instead? If so, how much do you think I should use?

      2. Shari Post author

        Lori, I hope the curry base turned out for you! I’m sorry that it took me so long to respond. If you don’t have a really strong blender, I definitely recommend using ground spices. I would just toss in about a 1/4-1/2 tsp, depending on how much you love cinnamon. You can always add more later, so taste as you add. 🙂

  21. Pingback: Restaurant Style Paneer Tikka Masala (Vegetarian) « My Fancy Pantry

  22. mark callagan

    Great recipe,been doing it years. Try blending your sauce after cooked with some ghee ,it makes it a lot smoother pal. Never fry your chicken first. Put it in raw. Reason being,when you fry it ,nothing can get in its texture. When you boil it in the curry all the water comes out and as it shrinks all the spices and sauce vacuum back in . Good tip ,try it,no need to marinate.

    1. Shari Post author

      Thanks for the tips, Mark! If I’m making the curry ahead of time, I definitely just toss the chicken in raw–that way it can soak up all the delicious spices overnight. If I’m making it for that day, I usually always marinate. You are right though…raw chicken will soak up more than pre-fried. Thanks for pointing that out!

  23. Mark Statters

    Hallo Jenny,
    thanks for posting your recipe in the net, it was helpful because I have always wondered how the Indians make such a nice sauce, it took a Girl from America to inform me. No more jars of curry sauce will come in my house.
    Thanks again,

  24. Cynthia

    Shari, New to your site and just finished making your curry base. We can’t wait to try it in a recipe. My husband was wondering why the butter chicken recipe doesn’t use your curry base? And we would love to try your version of a good saag/base recipe. We haven’t found one we like yet.

    1. Shari Post author

      Cynthia, Welcome to My Fancy Pantry! I’m glad you are trying some of the recipes! The butter chicken does not use the curry base because I had made that curry before I figured out the secret to making curries quickly. 🙂 The recipe for butter chicken on my blog is still quite fast, but I’ll definitely write one up that uses the base as well. I’ve had a lot of requests for saag paneer, so stay tuned…I’ll share my recipe soon!

      1. nutguest

        Just found your blog! Made the curry base today. Yum!! Please please post a saag paneer recipe! All the other recipes I’ve tried have not worked out. 😛 Lol! Thanks!

  25. tanu

    can you please tell the weight of the onions? its difficult to judge baseball size esp since where i stay, the onions are never similar in sizes. Thank you.

    1. Shari Post author

      Tanu, I’m not sure of the weight off the top of my head and I don’t have any onions in the house at the moment, but I will most definitely get a weight ASAP and let you know. Thanks for asking!

    1. CTKevinK

      Sorry didn’t mean to comment twice regarding my reblogging, I did not know it auto-commented when I reblogged it, So feel free to delete one of them., or both – it is, of course, up to you.


  26. StoneCut

    Your garabi is too thick, you need to thin it down so it reduces better as you cook it. This will intensify the flavours.

  27. Jen

    I made this curry base and chicken jalfrezi this weekend and it turned out yummy. My fiancé grew up in India so I’m excited to learn how to make some of his favorites. I was wondering what size of pan did you use to make the base? I used a 6 quart Dutch oven and the onions went almost to the top making it a bit difficult to stir. Thanks!

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello Jen! I’m glad you tried the curry base and enjoyed the Chicken Jalfrezi! To answer your question, I use a 10 inch Chicken Fryer. It’s about 3 inches deep, I believe. There are a lot of onions, and they do pile up in the pan making it hard to stir. I usually flip more than stir until the onions begin to cook down enough for me to easily stir the vegetables. Alternatively, you could cook everything in two separate batches…but I don’t have the patience for that. I know this isn’t a very good answer, but I hope it helps a little! Let me know if you need anything else! 🙂

  28. Sarah Brown-Devost

    I am very excited to try Chicken Jalfrezi tonight (we made our base yesterday) but one of our favorites is Chicken Tikka Masala. We do have a recipe that we like for it, but were wondering if you have a recipe from the base for it. I’m thinking just adding salt and cream? And then the chopped cilantro??
    Also, to Jen, our onions were totally filling our huge dutch oven too and we couldn’t stir them to mix in the masala. We just put the lid on for like 15 min until they had softened enough to make them more pliable then mixed in the masala and it seemed to work well.

  29. CT Mom

    Hi Shari, I came across your blog recently and knew I had to try your recipes. I made the Curry Base this morning. My whole kitchen smelled delicious. In fact, when my daughter came home from school today, the first thing she said to me was Yum because she smelled it too. I will definitely be using the base to make either the chicken tikka masala or navratna korma very soon. Can’t wait. Thanks for the recipes and helpful hints!

  30. Sherry Smithe

    I’m really enjoying your posts! Can you tell me how to korma-ize your curry base? The one I prefer is mild and sweet. I think that needs coconut, cashews right? Thank you, and I look forward to many more recipes and meals…

    1. Shari Post author

      You actually use the base to create the korma. The recipe can be found for Navratan Korma in the recipe index. If you prefer to use chicken instead of veggies, you could do that too.

  31. Nivi

    To slice onions without tears, you can chew gum when cutting/slicing onions. It really helps keep away tears. Thank you Shari for this wonderful idea.

  32. Steven J. Owens

    Great article, I’ve been making curries for a few years, really kicked it into overdrive this year after an indian grocer opened near my mom’s house :-). Still, it’s a lot of work. I’m definitely going to try your curry base recipe.

    Your commenters asked about slicing onions and crying. Google is your friend, there’s lots of info about this out there.

    As far as I understand (bear in mind there’s a lot of ill-informed ideas on the internet, and for all you know I could be yet another one of these) the crying is caused by gases/odors released by the onion, and the harshest/strongest odors come from the root part of the onion. The simple answer, then, is to not cut into the root so you don’t release the gas/odor. Two other approaches I’ve heard about are cutting the onions under water, and burning a candle next to the cutting board to neutralize the gases. The water trick seems logical to me, but too much work. I haven’t tried the candle trick.

    There are also good videos about chopping onions. Here are two, but oddly enough, neither of them address the crying problem.

    Also, neither of these videos use a trick for peeling the onion more easily, which I learned years ago, when I learned the same basic approach they illustrate.

    The difference I learned is that, instead of trying to peel the onion first and then starting to cut, you start by slicing the in half onion lengthwise from root to growing tip (see the “anatomy of an onion” diagram on this page: Note that he suggests cutting the root out and discarding it at the beginning; I guess that’d work too :-).

    Then peel the onion by placing each onion half on the cutting board with the cut face flat against the board. Cut off a quarter-inch or so of the growing tip. Now pick up the onion in your off hand and use the edge of the knife to peel up the cleanly-sheared-off edge of the outermost layer, and discard it.

    Part of this is learning a balance between how much of the onion you try to make use of; several onion layers dry out in overlapping stages, so you may have a super-dry outer layer that’s peeling off on its own, and a semi-dry but in theory still edible layer underneath, but that layer will be difficult and awkward to cut. It’s just an onion. Let go and discard that second layer 🙂

    Similarly, to avoid cutting into the root, start slicing from the growing tip end and just stop about 3/8 to 1/2″ from the other end, and discard that chunk, which contains the root. Or, if you’re going to insist on using the root, cut the root piece last and quickly, and then wash your hands and air out the kitchen.

    While we’re at it, learn basic knife care; sharpening and honing, which are two different things, and also handling and storage to avoid unnecessarily blunting the edge.

    Order a diamond whetstone – I bought one of these, originally for camping and tool sharpening, but now it lives on my magnetic knife rack in my kitchen:

    And most importantly, learn basic knife technique. I can’t even begin to explain it here (nor would I consider myself a qualified teacher) but there are tons of web pages and videos out there to learn from.

    The most important part is learning to hold the things you’re cutting properly and safely. You make sure your fingers are angled inward, toward your palm (and away from the blade). That way, your knuckles press against the flat of your big chef’s knife blade, keeping it away from your fingertips.

    After that, understand there are different cutting motions. For example, three that come to mind:

    Chopping – the most obvious and classic motion, you place the edge on what you’re cutting and press straight down. Works fine with carrots, celery, etc. If you’re trying it with meat or bone, it’s easier with big heavy cleavers, but you might find slicing easier and safer. Chopping tends to squash fragile stuff like tomatoes.

    Slicing – the blade moves more forward (or backward) than down, the forward motion makes the blade cut in more without exerting downward pressure which might, for example, squash your tomato. Also often helpful with squishier, stretchier things, like meat.

    Rocking – the reason your chef’s knife curves toward the tip is so you do a chopping motion by rocking the blade back and forth. You place the tip lightly on the board on one side of the carrot or celery or etc, then lever the rest of the blade down, like a paper cutter ( Then pull up, move slightly to the side (remember to keep your fingertips tucked in and safely away from the cutting edge!) and rock down again.

    There are lots of great websites and videos out there, use them! You’ll find that a properly maintained, properly used cooking knife is amazingly faster than you ever thought it would be!

  33. michaelawanders

    This is the BEST thing ever. I cannot WAIT to get home to the states and make this and then eat Indian food every day until I go to Spain for the fall . . . yum! Thanks for sharing!

  34. lindy

    Hi! I just stumbled across you blog today and it looks great! I was wondering (and sorry if you answered this in previous comments) do you have the 7 or 8 recipes that you used this base for listed somewhere for quick reference?

    1. Shari Post author

      Lindy, Welcome!

      I’ve been meaning to add a page just for the curry base recipes, I just haven’t had time lately. I will get that index made as soon as I can! 🙂 In the meantime, I hope you enjoy browsing the site!

  35. Laura McLaughlin

    Instead of making a large batch, how do I cut this to make for 2 people, what measurements do I go by for the dry spices?. I’m making a chicken curry but need this curry base for 4-6 servings.

    1. Shari Post author

      I’ve actually never made a single serving of the curry base before. Usually I just freeze all the extras so that I always have some when I need it. I plan on tweaking the recipe here soon (probably next week)—so I’ll see what I can do.

      Otherwise, if you’re just wanting to make one curry–if you tell me which one, I could probably tell you how to make it without the curry base. I hope this helps! Send me an email @ myfancypantry @ gmail (dot) com

  36. Juliana Metichecchia

    Hi Shari,

    I’m so excited to make all of your recipes! I just finished up your curry base and have my chicken marinating for Chiken Tikka Masala for tomorrow night :). Just wanted to comment that I live in a very small rural town in Louisiana, so many of the whole spices you call for aren’t available here, so I had to use what I could find. I figured that might be a problem for at least some of your readers so I’m posting my conversion below for whole to ground spices. I would love your thoughts on what I did. It smells wonderful so far, and I don’t think I put too much of anything in. Thanks so much for your recipes, I can’t wait until you post more using your curry base.


    I made the recipe exactly as above, but with these conversions.

    1/8 tsp ground cloves
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 tbsp ground corriander seeds
    1/8 tsp ground cardamom
    1/2 tsp ground ginger

    I also left out the fenugreek, because I couldn’t find it anywhere!

    1. Shari Post author


      Welcome to My Fancy Pantry! I’m so happy you’ve tried the curry base, I hope you enjoy the curries you make with it!

      Also, thank you very much for adding the spice conversions to your comment. I sometimes forget that not everyone can get the whole spices and instead have to use what they can find in their local supermarket.

      I know the dried fenugreek can be difficult to find sometimes, but if you ever come across it…snatch up a box. I think it’s pretty essential to get that restaurant flavor. If you don’t have it, that’s fine too though…the curry will still be delicious!

      Let me know how it all turns out! I’m in the process of tweaking the base recipe a little bit, so any suggestions are appreciated! 🙂

      All the best!!!


  37. Pingback: Homemade Curry Sauce & Cauliflower, Potato & Spinach Curry with Coconut Jasmine Rice

  38. Christopher Lopez

    omgosh I LOVE YOU FOR THIS RECIPE!! I never knew how to make curry the right way (usually I’d just dumb a whole container of store bought “curry powder” in a pot of coconut milk and think I was done, but this looks like it’ll be GREAT! QUICK QUESTION THOUGH, I don’t any dairy at all so ghee unfortunately wouldn’t be good for me, could I use something else in it’s place? Like coconut oil or something? Also, I wanna make sure I minimize the calories and fat that I consume, so I wonder if that’ll help too. What do you think, professor? 🙂

    1. Shari Post author


      Sorry for the late response! I’ve had lots of comments to go through… I would recommend substituting olive oil for the ghee. You could also lessen the amount of fat used, but keep in mind the curry may not taste as rich as a restaurant version.

      I hope that helps! 🙂

  39. cortada86

    This is a wonderful recipe! My only question is this: I don’t eat anything dairy, so the ghee [unfortunately] would be an issue for me. Although it might not make it “authentic”, is there a [healthy] substitution for ghee that I might use? I have a ton of coconut oil, I dunno if that’ll work. What do you think, professor?

    1. Shari Post author

      I would substitute olive oil for the ghee–in fact, I do it quite often. The taste may be a smidge different, but it will be relatively similar–and healthier! All the best! 🙂

  40. Gretchen Gooden

    Great authentic recipe base i was looking for- I’ve made all kinds of curries as well- the base is a great idea!
    Just an FYI- “Kalustians”, probably the greatest spice store on the planet, makes about 100 different kinds of garam masala, either in paste form or powder, if you don’t have time, and will also hand mix any spice blend for you-also “DualFlavor” on the LES is also great! Thanks much!

  41. Tessa

    I’ve been so excited about this recipe for over a week now and finally gathered up all my ingredients and made it all. (Fenugreek was the hardest spice to locate..) Tip for those with problems cutting onions: open a can of coffee nearby. I got to onion four before I noticed anything happening to my eyes, and I blinked it away and got through all ten of them! Whew!

    Just one question for Shari: is it supposed to be sweet? I was thinking as I was cooking it that it would be pretty sweet (ten onions basically getting caramelized – yeep!), and lo and behold… Spice is very light too, not overbearing, and I think it will add a great complexity to my dishes. But the sweetness kind of concerns me.

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello, Tessa!

      Sorry it took so long for a reply! Yes, the curry base will be a little on the sweet side. I’m in the process of *perfecting* the recipe–I’m thinking I’ll weigh the onions instead of just say “baseball sized.” The size of the onions and even the type of onion can really change the flavor of the base.

      One thing to note is that if I use the curry base in a recipe, I’ll never add extra onion and the curry will usually need a little extra acidity if you feel it is “lacking” something. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice will usually help to cut the sweetness and make the flavors pop.

      Let me know how your dishes turned out with the base. Any other suggestions I should consider? Thanks!

  42. Rosie

    This recipe looks great! My only problem is that my little post-college kitchen lacks a blender or food processor–Is it possible to make this without pureeing the batter? Or will I lose a lot of the flavor if the onions and such are kept whole? Thank you~

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello Rosie!

      The curry base is meant to be blended, but you could surely try it without blending. Your gravy won’t be as smooth and the taste will be a little different, but I’m sure it would still taste pretty good!

      Be sure to grind any spices before adding, though.

      If you try it out, let me know!

    2. Beth

      Rosie – get a “boat motor” (stick blender). I spent about 25 bucks on mine and have never regretted it. You can fully puree soups and sauces, or just thicken up your soups with a couple of pulses. No lifting and pouring large amounts of steaming, splashing liquid from the stove! The stick blenders take up little space and clean up so easily, too.

  43. Pingback: (Accidently) Spicy Vegetarian Cauliflower Curry - Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Can Be Vegan - FoodSniffr Blog

    1. Shari Post author

      Andrew, this is not a dumb question at all.

      I use it as a base to make curries–think of it as a time saver. In Indian cooking, the prep work can take quite some time, so by having a pre-made gravy of onions, tomatoes and spices at the ready you can create wonderful curries in almost no time. It also helps with the flavor if you’re short on time.

      I’m hoping to have an updated curry base recipe and a “how to” guide up on the blog in the (hopefully) near future!

  44. Ram

    Hi I’m making your curry base today to make a chicken dish tomorrow. Let me see how this turns out. I’ll let you know. Thanks for your recipes!!!

  45. Fabiana

    This recipe is perfect. I’m already buying ingredients to try it! My only comment is, I am single and I’ll use this recipe to cook for myself. Plus, I don’t have a lot of storage space in my fridge’s freezer. Do you think it would work if I reduced the amount of ingredients by half to get six containers of curry instead of 12?

  46. noname

    Healthy? You eat animals, there is nothing healthy in eating intoxicated animals. Look up the reality of factory farming and finally realize you are eating hormones drugs sometimes even e coli and feces… people need to open their eyes. I wonder if you would eat a dog, probably not, then why eat a pig? Pigs are proven to be as intelligent as 3-4 year old children. You’re judging life by the form it comes in, and lying about eating healthy. You’re eating dead corpses of suffering animals. Open your eyes.

    1. Shari Post author

      To each their own. I realize the risks of purchasing meat–organic or otherwise–and choose what I feel is best for my own health.

      This particular recipe (curry base) is vegan, so I find it confusing why this comment is left here?

  47. Nick O

    Shari- I see many of your recipes use fenugreek leaves, while this one uses fenugreek seeds. Should I buy both? Can I substitute ground fenugreek seeds? Thanks for the great site. I’ve found quite a few recipes I plan to try

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello Nick!

      Both fenugreek seeds and fenugreek leaves have distinct, different flavors. Personally, I like to have both in my spice collection, but if you have fennel seeds you could try substituting them. The flavor will be a little different, but it’ll still be good! 🙂

  48. Kimberly

    I can’t wait to try this, but I do have one question. Instead of making the masala blend you have, could you use one that is pre-prepared? I have a big bag of garam masala on hand that I would prefer to use up before going from scratch. If it is possible to use it, how much would I use?

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello Kimberly!

      I haven’t substituted only garam masala for all the spices in the curry base before, so I’m not sure how much to use. I wouldn’t use too much though, as garam masala can sometimes be too overpowering.

      If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

  49. Pingback: Vegetable Korma Curry

  50. Nick Z.

    You did not include any “curry powder” in your masala mix. Does these spices that you included give the taste of “curry powder” or am I missing something here?

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello Nick!

      You are correct, there is no curry powder in this recipe. Actually, you won’t find any recipes on this blog using curry powder (it’s not used commonly in authentic Indian cooking). The spices used in the recipe are, indeed, used instead of curry powder.

      You could surely try substituting it in place of all the spices listed. If you try, let me know how it turns out!

  51. Vandana

    I am south Indian woman who lives in USA. And as you say, every time when we invite any friends for lunch/dinner, I think too much about the recipes, cooking time etc., etc., Recently I went to one of our friend’s place for dinner. She took the gravy from the freezer, microwaved, and mixed some mixed vegetable kofthas. Oh man….I finished my dinner with that gravy. I loved it. It was super. I asked her about the recipe. She told me about this blog. I will follow this and will save my lot of valuable time. I must thank you for this wonderful recipe. Please do upload some vegetarian recipes whenever you do some. From now on wards, this site will be in my favorite list.
    Good Luck


    1. Shari Post author


      Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe! I find it’s super helpful when you’re busy and in a hurry…it virtually eliminates the prep-time!

      I will be uploading quite a few new vegetarian recipes soon…and hopefully will have the recipe index re-done to make it easier to find what you are looking for.

      Thank you again for the comment, and for favoriting my blog!

  52. elilis

    Would blending the ingredients first be the same? I’m trying to save time by not chopping all those onions. I have a Blendtec blender and it’s very powerful to blend the onions without chunks.

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello! You can blend first, but the flavor and even the texture may be different. I always recommend cooking the onions before blending. If you try blending first, let me know your thoughts on how it turned out.

  53. John E

    I am a TOTAL curry snob!!! Had an Indian professor in Architecture school in the 60’s and he taught me design and curry making for 4 years. I make it once every 10 days from scratch since 1967. Was VERY skeptical as store bought pastes are NOT all that good. This recipe is to DIE for. I took the 3 cup frozen bag, warmed it up, added salt added 1 pint of canned tomotoes from our garden, cubed squash, cubed potatoes, cubed chicken breast and 1/2 cup of white wine, 4 hard boiled eggs (shell off) and cooked until spuds and squash done. IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST CURRY DISHES I’VE EVER HAD INCLUDING IN THAILAND AND INDIA. Made 4 – 3 cups bags, we now have bushels of tomaotoes we just picked and we are making curry paste for 2015-16. Thank you.

  54. Matt

    Thanks for the recipe! I made it today, but only half the amount and minus the cloves as I didn’t have any. It gave us about 3-4 meals worth for our family of four. Sauce tastes great! Next is some homemade Naan and we are good to go. I will probably just fry some chicken up in some of the Masala mix, chop some more peppers up and then add to the mix. I hope to get some paneer for the following meal. Thanks again for your simple but tasty sauce recipe.

  55. gladtomat

    Hello Areli. What a great recipe pictures. I love tomato curry. I already used your given recipe to make the tomato curry. It was made so tasty and delicious. Thanks. To Know More:

  56. Simon

    Hi Shari,

    Truthfully, this curry base is more of a BIR (british indian restaurant) invention. Indian homestyle cooking and restaurant cooking are two completely different animals. But I will give this one a try and use for tikka masala.

    1. Shari Post author

      It is true! Most Indian food that is cooked at home never uses a generic base–it’s really more of a time saver. I will say, though, that homecooks do use a curry base–and for most curries it’s quite similar. Tomatoes, garlic, ginger, onions, few spices-then they blend (although blending isn’t always necessary). It’s the start of many curries.
      I’ve watched my mother-in-law make her gravy and have since changed up how I make this recipe. I hope to post the new version on my blog soon!

      Did you like this one?

  57. Rachel_Cooks

    This stuff is great! Here’s an idea if you have some left after making a recipe and don’t know what to do with it. I added about a cup of the sauce to a couple packs of ramen. It was delicious… and my kids didn’t even complain about the substitution from the oriental flavoring packet.

  58. C Samples

    I was thinking about using this for an outdoor event to feed 50 people. A mix of gf, vegan, and carnivore. If I was going to make korma, or tikka masala, could I make the base & sauce for either and freeze? I could add the veg at the last minute & keep the chicken on the side. Thanks!


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