Friday, 29 May 2009

Basic Curry Sauce

Basic Curry Sauce

This is the basis for any type of Bangladeshi-style 'curry'. It'll make around 300ml of Sauce which is enough for 2 main course curries or a main course and some side dishes. If you have some sauce left over it will keep in good condition in the freezer for a few weeks (try storing it in ice-cube-sized portions). Even small amounts are useful for making a quick one-portion curry.


  1. 1 medium onion - finely chopped
  2. 4 cloves garlic - peeled and sliced
  3. 3cm piece root ginger - peeled and thinly sliced (about the same volume as the garlic)
  4. optional) 2 mild fleshy green chillies - de-seeded and veined then chopped
  5. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
  7. 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  8. 0.5 teaspoon medium chili powder (or to tase for hotter sauces)
  9. 80-100ml plain passata or 1 tablespoon concentrated tomato purée mixed with 4 tablespoons water
  10. 50-75ml ghee (clarified butter)
  11. 1 medium onion - finely chopped
  12. Dried Fenugreek leaves (Kasoori Mehti).


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan then add the chopped onion and stir for a few minutes with the heat on high.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli (if using). Stir for 30 seconds then put the heat down to very low.
  3. Cook for 15 minutes stirring from time to time making sure nothing browns or burns.
  4. Add the turmeric, cumin and coriander and cook, still very gently, for a further 5 minutes. Take care not to burn the spices or the sauce will taste bitter - sprinkle on a few drops of water if you're worried.
  5. Take off the heat and cool a little. Put 50ml cold water in a blender, add the contents of the pan and whizz until very smooth. Add the passata and stir.
  6. Put the puréed mixture back into the pan and cook for 20 - 30 minutes (the longer the better) over very low heat stirring occasionally. You can add a little hot water if it starts to catch on the pan but the idea is to gently fry the sauce which will darken in colour to an orangy brown. The final texture should be something like good tomato ketchup. You'll need a splash guard.
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