If you want to learn how to make Indian restaurant curries at home this is the place to start.
Indian restaurant curry base or base gravy is the foundation of the whole thing.
Get this figured out and you are on your way to making better curries than you can buy.
Indian restaurants cook a whack of different curries to order. Ever wonder how they do it?
For sure they don’t have 25 curries simmering away in the kitchen.
Nobody can run a restaurant like that. They have a secret. Indian restaurant curry base.
Curry base is how Indian restaurants can cook to order
It’s cooked to order and it’s done using curry base. Curry base is at the heart of every Indian restaurant kitchen. Giant pots of it simmering away.
Once I heard about it I started asking waiters. I met kitchen staff. Talked about it with a chef or two. I was on the inside. Now you are too…
Never heard of curry base? Not surprising. For the longest time it was a closely guarded secret.
Even now, Indian restaurant curry base recipes are carefully guarded secrets.
A hint of carrot – ooohhhh. A bit of cabbage – aaahhh. A green pepper – ssshhhh. But that’s how it’s done.
It’s a bit ridiculous. In it’s simplest form it’s just a lot of boiled onions with some spices and oil. Seriously.
Cook it up and it tastes like a weak curry onion soup. Nothing to it. Not particularly tasty.
The magic is in the cooking technique
But when you layer the Indian restaurant technique on top it’s magic. Something wonderful happens to that insipid onion soup.
It caramelizes some. More importantly, the Maillard reaction kicks in. The depth of flavour is – well it’s restaurant quality.
It’s not hard. It’s just a matter of rolling up your sleeves and getting it done. Chop some onions. Add some water and some seasoning and boil. Puree. Boil some more. Done.
You can get a quick lesson on cooking Indian restaurant curry here.
You use this base in recipes like Indian restaurant madras, lamb curry, jalfrezi or chicken tikka masala.
Look around – there are lots of Indian restaurant curry recipes here.
One thing to note. Indian restaurant curries are big on oil. This recipe is about as low as you can go on the oil.
Don’t use less. It just won’t work. Indian restaurant curry is a lot of things but low calorie it is not.
If you want to cook Indian restaurant style curries this the first step. The real deal.
Watch the video (there’s real audio)
indian restaurant curry base
- 8 large onions – about 2.5 lbs peeled weight
- 6-8 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 1/2 Tbsp ginger coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp cumin powder
- 1 1/2 Tbsp coriander powder
- 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 12-15 fresh cilantro stalks with leaves – roots removed
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 12 cups boiling water
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes – one small can
- Bring the water to a boil (a kettle works well for this).
- Quarter the onions and then break them apart into petals (roughly – two or three petals per quarter)
- Combine all ingredients except tomatoes, bring to a gentle boil and simmer, loosely covered, for one hour. Use a big pot!
- Add tomatoes, stir and simmer an additional 20 minutes
- Let cool slightly. Blend to smooth consistency. Make sure you remove the centre cap from the blender lid and cover the hole with a cloth or you will be cleaning the ceiling. Alternately you can use an immersion blender.
- Wipe out the pot and return pureed curry base and simmer, loosely covered, until the oil separates out – this can take an hour or more. Stir the oil back into the base. At this point you can portion out the base into 2 cup portions and freeze if desired.
309 thoughts on “indian restaurant curry base”
I love your curry base. I plan to make a larger portion next time I make it.
I have heard and also read on other websites that Indian restaurants have 2 or 3 base curry’s. Would you know what these other ones are?
Delighted to hear that! If you want to get into differentiated, purpose built gravies check out the hotel style section. https://glebekitchen.com/hotel-style/
This looks amazing! I’m a single man and don’t have much freezer space. Could I halve this or would it not turn out the same? Thank you!
Absolutely. Scales up or down no problem. There is a quantity slider in the recipe card to make this easy.
Hi Romain, can I use the quantities given but half the water? This is to give a thicker gravy I can water down on the day purely to save freezer space?
While I have never done that I cannot think of a reason that wouldn’t work. Just make sure you have enough water to fully submerge everything in the pot.
I have made the Restaurant Chicken Madras curry a couple of times with some success!! However making a batch for 12 guests tomorrow and been preparing my base gravy and
Spice, garlic, dishes also. Unfortunately when going to mix my spice mix together I accidently mixed the coconut powder in with the spices!! How will that work when I cook the spices? Thanks for your advice 👍
I’d start again I think. I’ve never tried frying coconut powder so I’m not sure what will happen.
Hi, is it ok. To use pressure cooker to save time? 2 hours is quite painful! Also, can replace the Cilantro stems with other herb or dried Coriander?Thank you in anticipation buddy.
Yes, you can use a pressure cooker. I haven’t done it myself as almost all the time is unattended so I just do other things.
I can’t think of a reasonable substitute for fresh cilantro. Dried is like dust. If you don’t want/like cilantro I’d suggest just leaving it out altogether.
When do you add the oil??
Step three – add all the ingredients except the tomatoes…
Hi, do you “water down/dilute” this curry base before you use it or do you use it “straight”? I notice some other curry base recipes you freeze the base “straight” but then “water down/dilute” to use….eg dilute with an equal part water before using. Thanks!
This gravy is ready to go as written. No additional watering down required.
This sauce is beautifull, the curry’s from it are amazing.
Wen you say a 1.5 tablespoon of ginger chopped. Is the measurement taken before or after chopping?
Thanks in advance
Glad to hear you like it! The measurement is after coarsely chopping.
12-15 fresh cilantro stalks with leaves – roots removed
Is this clusters or individual stalks? Hoping individual stems, stops me from having to shop.
Appreciate your site!
Individual stems, not clusters.
Hi. Made this LOADS of times. Lost count! Just made up a batch yesterday and sods law my hand blender just broke 😱 It was great for this sauce and even not bad for hotel style (few little bits left, but not terrible) Was looking to get a new blender anyway so what kind do you use (make/brand etc) because it’s driving me mad looking through blender reviews! Like to be able to get a nice smooth hotel sauce. I live in uk so might not be able to get same but thought it was worth asking though. Thanks!
Sorry to hear about your hand blender. I use a Vitamix Pro 750 but that’s overkill I think. I used to have an old Waring blender I had for many, many years before it finally gave up. I do find a conventional blender to be better than a stick blender (I have one and I never use it although I do hear good things about the Bamix line (again quite expensive).
Hi Romain. I am from the U.K and get very confused over your use of quantities. Sometimes you measure liquids in “cups” you also measure dry ingredients in “cups” then other times liquids are mearsured in “Oz”, is this fluid Oz or Oz in weight? Then again Tbsp are also used for liquids? For example the curry base calls for “cups of water and Oil” but in the curry recipe it calls for 15 Oz of curry base? Can you provide a suitable conversion for liquids from cups and Oz to Millilitres, or fluid Oz please? It’s very confusing.
I have come to make the Tikka Massala and the recipe calls for 15 oz of curry base, which if its fluid Oz is equiv to 3/4 pint or just under 1/2 a Litre, which seems to make a very watery sauce.
8 fluid ounces to a cup. 237 ml to a cup. 3 teaspoons to a tablespoon. 5 ml to a teaspoon. Liquids are always by volume. Solids are by weight unless otherwise specified.
I’m slowly converting all the recipes on glebekitchen to support a unit conversion feature but that takes time. I’ve just updated this one and the chicken tikka masala recipe. Look for a US customary/Metric conversion button in the recipe card.
As far as your curry turning out watery I would guess you didn’t fry your gravy hard enough. There is considerable evaporation happening in this step. If anything I sometimes push too hard and have to thin the curry out a bit. Another possibility is that you didn’t precook your chicken? The juices from the chicken add liquid into the dish.
Hope this helps.
I’ve been making this base, and your curries, for over 2 years now. Brilliant recipes that are easy to follow and really do taste like a restaurant curry (dare I say they sometimes taste even better!) Everyone who tastes them ends up being sent here to learn the secrets of fantastic curry making. So happy I stumbled across your site all that time ago. I don’t know what I’d do without it now!
I’m happy you found it! If you are turning out dishes that are better than restaurants (and I’m sure you are if you’ve been at this two years) then I’d say you have this technique nailed.
Absolutely delicious. This and the bottle massala recipe. All of the ones I’ve made from your site so far. I thought restaurant style would be sub-standard compared to hotel style, but it’s really not. It’s just different. So glad I did this. You have me utterly hooked on Indian cooking. Legend.
Hooked on Indian. That’s music to my ears!
Just whipping up a batch of this curry base to make your bottle masala recipe tomorrow. Wow, the kitchen smells amazing! Being my first try at restaurant style, I have some questions. I’ve read your primer on restaurant style and really wanted to get a decent pan but also avoid aluminium on the cooking surface. Found a bottom clad stainless steel one, doesn’t actually state if the core is aluminium. Do you think this will work? I’m kinda terrified of everything sticking, especially the spices. I will go ahead and try it, but any pointers from you will be hugely appreciated.
If it is labeled try-ply or 5 ply it is almost certainly an aluminium core. I don’t think it is easy to find a pan that is pure stainless steel as stainless is a really bad heat conductor. I have a few videos on YouTube that go through the cooking process for restaurant style that might help. My best advice is to make sure you use enough oil and to remember if things go sideways you can a) move the pan off the heat and b) toss in some diluted tomato paste to get you back into the safe zone. Ease up on the heat when the spices go in or keep your burner on medium low until some liquid goes in the pan. Creep up on heat after you have a few curries under your belt.
And if you do burn the spices it’s not the end of the world. Just start over. You aren’t losing much. Oil, garlic ginger paste, a few spices and maybe some onions or chilies. Don’t overthink this. It really isn’t that hard. I’m betting you nail it!
I’m confused by your portioning measurements. You state ‘freeze in 2 cup portions (one curries worth) 1 cup is 237 ml.’.
2 cups is 474ml which seems a lot. Anyway, your curries (eg dopiaza) state use 15oz of base gravy to make 2 curries yet your base gravy recipe state 2 cup portions are one curries worth…
15 fluid ounces (444ml) is 1 fluid ounce short of 2 cups. There’s a fair bit of evaporation that goes on when you fry the curry base when making the final curries. Let the consistency of the final dish guide you. If it looks a little thick toss in that extra ounce and stir it in to combine.
Can you make the curry base in a pressure cooker ( one pot)to save on time.
Yes I expect you can. I’ve never experimented with it as I view making curry base kind of like making soup. It’s unattended cooking so I can do other things anyway.
Love your video’s and the funny comments you throw in. Going to try your base. Like the simplicity of it. Agree completely with leaving out the likes of cabbage, carrots, peppers etc. Once made a base in a moment of madness and included cabbage. Guess what? All I could taste when I made a curry was, err, cabbage. Needless to say the rest of that base went down the drain.
Keep up the good work.
Best wishes from England.
Glad you are enjoying glebekitchen.
Re: cabbage. I cannot agree more. Just don’t understand the allure of putting it every curry I make.
have made this before, from your recipe. Fantastic for curries at home from your website.
Your instructions are very clear and they work.
We have recently moved internationally. I am setting up my home and tonight am making a fresh batch of curry base to freeze…. I really feel like this is home again.
Smells right…. good curries to come.
That I can be somehow related to making you feel like you are home is just putting a big, beaming smile on my face:-).
Good curries to come!
I am going to try it this weekend. Made a ton of curries in my lifetime but this level of depth is exciting to experiment with.
Now, in India, we don’t use yellow onions but red onions – I am not even sure where to find them. Can I sub yellow onions with red onions?
Absolutely. Red onions will work fine. If you want to do dishes that are closer to restaurants in India you might be interested in hotel style (another approach you can find here on glebekitchen). Have fun:-)
Truly appreciate the way you made this restaurant style curry base. Everything is so nicely described that really helped me.
Delighted to have helped. Hope you make lots of dishes you like!
Should I be adding water to the base servings when I come to actually use it?
I just made this recipe using 6 servings setting. Add each serving measured at just under 300ml once I split it up. Just wondering if I need to be diluting these portions when I come to use them?
It’s possible you are getting a little extra evaporation. You should get 5-6 portions based on your halving then recipe.
It’s possible you are getting a little extra evaporation. You should get 5-6 portions based on your halving the recipe
I like this pot on the simmer
If I just want to make enough for your delicious sounding Lamb Vindaloo, how many ‘servings’ should I adjust the recipe for/to?
If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card there is a slider that adjusts quantities for you. I’d make a little extra if I were you though. This stuff is addictive and it freezes well.
Hey is there any way of making without onions as my husband is allergic to them?
Sorry – I can’t think of a way to make this work without onions…
I’ve just noticed the weight for the onions doesn’t change when you change the portion size.
Sorry – it only works on the actual ingredients. Comments (like the weight of the onions) do not.
Well I doubled the recipe and ended up with enough for 34 curries
What Have I done wrong
I used 5Lbs of onions and 5688 of water 237 X 24 =(24 cups)
strange,where have I gone wrong Romain?
Your math is right (and very precise). Let’s try starting with units. Each restaurant style curry calls for 15 fluid ounces. Are you taking 15 oz as a measurement of weight?
What is the reason for wiping out the pot and returning curry to it?
I’m not obsessive about getting everything out of the pot when I get to the puree step but I am obsessive about a smooth gravy (pureed soups in general). I always wind up with a few little bits of onion left over. Sometimes I also get stuff sticking to to the side above the water line. I really don’t like little bits of stuff in my gravy so I wipe out the pot. If you wind up free of debris then there is no need.
That’s also why I don’t use an immersion blender. I can’t get every little bit of onion in the pot so I use a traditional blender.
Hey, great to have a recipe for a common base! Thank you so much!
I’ve adjusted the process to already caramelize the onions upfront and then add the other ingredients. As caramelization takes a lot of time and precision I don’t want to have that step in my final curry phase. Is there a particular reason why you only cook the onions in this step and wait for later to caramelize them?
The restaurant base follows restaurant technique which fries this curry base to achieve the Maillard reaction to drive the cooked onion flavour. It makes it much easier to make the curry base gravy at the cost of more effort when making the final curries.
If you prefer to take the time and effort to brown the onions up front (something I am a fan of) then you should have a look in the hotel style section. That approach relies on deeply browned onions up front and bypasses the frying stage inherent to restaurant style. A bit of a confusing explanation perhaps but if you look at https://glebekitchen.com/hotel-style-indian-curry-gravy/ it should make more sense.
Hi, thank you for the previous answer, one more question, would it be ok to half the quantity of the recipe for the gravy base to make 6 cups instead of 12 cups, I just cook for my self and haven’t got the room in my freezer, regards. Bob.
Absolutely. There’s a slider that will scale everything for you. If you click on the number 12 next to servings in the recipe card it will pop up and you can set it to what you like. I don’t recommend using the slider on the actual recipes that use this gravy. While the ingredients do scale the technique starts to be a problem at more than double. And even double is a stretch if you don’t have a powerful stovetop.
Just off to Aldi to buy ingredients to try this.
I have toasted and ground my own cumin seeds to a powder – do I use less than 1.5 tbspoons in the recipe?
Nope. Will be a bit better for your efforts but the spicing is pretty light in the curry base. That fresh ground cumin is going to be incredible when you use it in the final dishes though!
Hi, could you tell me please what is the volume of one cup of water in the base gravy, also in the Pathia recipe is the 15oz of base gravy liquid volume or weight, help would be much appreciated. Bob.
All liquid measurements are by volume. One cup is 237ml. Don’t get too, too hung up on precise measurements (other than spices) though. 950ml to 4 cups and 450ml of gravy in the pathia will work fine.
Technique is what really matters here. Use enough oil. Bloom your spices. Fry your gravy.
And please have fun:-).
Superb! And now I have access to all the recipes in this section. Cannot wait!
I think you’re going to have fun!
I’m ready to make my base.
Now this might be a ridiculous question, but when you say 2 cups is one curry’s worthy, is that a single portion or for what might serve more people, so if I’m cooking for the family of 4 I would need 8 cups?
Two cups is the quantity of curry base called for in every restaurant style recipe on glebekitchen. Each recipe makes enough for two moderate portions. So you would need 4 cups for 4 people. One thing to note. It’s hard to really fry out the curry base if you double the recipe. I usually just make the same recipe twice if I’m cooking for 4. Alternately, you can try with a large skillet. With enough surface area and enough heat I find I can get that to work.
Alternately you can look at the recipes in the hotel section of the blog. Those recipes rely on a different approach, deliver posh restaurant results and scales well.
Either way – hope you have fun cooking restaurant calibre curries.
Hi thanks for all the recipes and videos you are very easy to follow and the food is great , just wanted to know how long the curry base will last once frozen?
Many thanks Ian
You are very welcome.
I never manage to keep it around for long enough to truly test but I would expect three months. Longer if you use something like a food saver (cryovac). Freezer burn is the challenge here…
Hi, a friend of mine introduced me to your site and I think it’s fantastic, I can see myself trying many of your dishes! I have this base sauce on the go at the moment, have just blitzed it and am starting step 2 – but am curious to know what the point of separating the oil is, just to stir it back in again?
The oil separating is just something that gives you a feel that it’s done cooking. Just stir it in.
Iv shot my own foot here I think….My family won’t get an Indian take away at all since I have made this, they say (and I also think) it knocks spots off our local takeaway. Thank you for an amazing recipe 👍
That is so awesome to hear! If it makes you feel better I don’t get takeaway Indian either:-)
Hi Romain. I cooked another batch of this for the freezer today. I also pre-cooked some chicken for the curry I was making and it got me to thinking. Can I use the liquid from cooking the chicken in place of some of the 12 cups of water?
Absolutely. A little chicken stock in the curry base adds a nice flavour. Just watch your salt. I don’t imagine salt will be an issue unless you have lots and lots of the broth.
And be careful that you don’t use it if you are feeding a vegetarian, of course.
I’ve been cooking your Curry Base and Pathia Curry for about 2 months now and just wanted to check in and say thanks for the recipes because it’s been a big hit with my stepson who loves restaurant curry.
I also cooked it for my parents and my Dad was particularly impressed with the flavour, but they’re on blood thinners so I won’t be doing that one every week for them!
Thank you for sharing this cooking technique with the world. I’m sure there are many many ways to do a good restaurant curry, but this was the first one I’ve given a go and I’ve really fallen in love with it, I don’t really have much reason to try anything else.
I just love Pathia. Any restaurant I go to I always order a Pathia, without fail every time. Now I know how to make it myself, and you made that happen.
You are very welcome. That’s great to hear. I’m especially happy it is a hit with both your dad and your stepson. 3 generations. In Canada I’d call that a hat trick.
Our local Indian restaurant was so bad I had to learn how to make these dishes at home. That’s how I found you. Thank goodness! Thank you for making these wonderful dishes easy to do at home. I save so much time using your recipes and methods and everything comes out mouthwatering.
Super happy to hear that you are making great dishes at home!
Thank you for this simple recipe. I´m not exellent cooker but following your recipe makes me feel like i´m real chef, So thank you and best regards from Finland
A little practice and you will be great in the kitchen I bet!
Just made my second batch of base gravy (the 1st was really good !) and realised I made a mistake with the dry spice measuring, I have put heaped spoons instead of level into the gravy. I thought it smelled quite strong while it was simmering away !
Anyway, do you think it will still be useable ? I thought perhaps reducing the amount of cumin/corriander when making the actual dish might work.
Thanks for a great site !
Sorry I missed this somehow. Apologies for taking so long to respond.
It will be fine. Sounds like you’ve added about 2 Tbsp of extra spice. A batch of curry base is enough for 8 curries. For recipes that use restaurant mix powder, just back it off by about 2/3 of a teaspoon. For recipes that use individual spices you will need to get a bit creative but I’m sure you can make it work.
This is the bomb. Turned my ‘pretty good’ Indian home cooking into ‘OMG it’s perfect’. Can’t thank you enough.
Delighted to hear that. “OMG it’s perfect” is exactly why I do what I do!
Can fresh tomatoes “blitzed” be used in the curry base instead of tinned?
Absolutely. Would add a lovely fresh flavour.
I have to cook for someone who is allergic to tomato. Do you have any suggestions as to what I can substitute in.
How necessary is the tomato in the sauce?
I am guessing it adds some sugar content, colour and a touch of acidity.
Tomato adds some flavour but not as much as you might think. It is a background flavour in something that is quite bland by design anyway. While I have never tried it I am pretty sure it will work out OK. The bigger problem will the that tomato is integral to the flavour of so many curries made with this gravy…
I made a batch of sauce without tomato. I substituted in a pound of fresh slightly under-ripe apricots and a couple of large mild red chillies.
The sauce has a sweet and sour tang – a bit like adding tamarind to a recipe.
I went on to make Lamb Dhansak (restaurant style), leaving out the tamarind. Worked a treat, though I did use tomato paste so have to find a substitute for that now.
I am doing this for a one off event feeding 25 people where a tomato-allergic host has set me the challenge. Any pointers to tom free recipe suggestion for a curry feast appreciated.
Not an easy task…
https://glebekitchen.com/chicken-biryani-indian-restaurant-style/ but use your modified base instead of tomato paste
https://glebekitchen.com/lamb-saag-indian-restaurant-style/ – probably fine without the tomato paste
I have now found the perfect replacement for tomato in the sauce. Mild sweet red pepper paste – from my local Turkish shop. The label reads “Tatli Biber Salcasi”.
It gives the deep red colour, provides sweetness and does not overpower with bell pepper flavour.
I will be trying it later in Chicken Jalfrezi.
Thank you for your recipes, swift response to comments and your inspiring enthusiasm.
Great idea! Glad to hear you sorted it out. Sounds like it would add a nice background flavour as well. I googled it and if I can find it here I will give that a go sometime…
I use Schwartz spices and follow the recipes to the letter, but the curries are not quite the same as in the restaurants or take aways?
Its it in the quality of the spices?
If you are following the recipes exactly I have no idea what to tell you I am afraid. Technique is a big part of Indian restaurant cooking (blooming spices, frying curry base etc). Have you watched some of the videos? There’s one that is dedicated to technique in this post – https://glebekitchen.com/indian-restaurant-curry-at-home/ and there’s a glebekitchen YouTube channel with a collection of videos to help.
im not sure if this question was asked but for the spices like coriader and cumin, do they need to be toasted before hand or raw into the curry base?
this is part of what confuses me.
These are ground spices. I would never recommend toasting ground spices. They go in raw.
When you’re making the final curries the spices for the curry get bloomed in oil. That’s a big part of the magic…
Made this curry base yesterday, outstanding is all I can say. Cant wait to use it in main dishes. Thanks
Can’t wait to hear how it goes. It takes some getting familiar with the technique but once you have it down it is so easy!
Have tried a few different curry bases in the past but this one is in a league of its own. So like a restaurant curry.
I had some lamb breast so put this in the slow cooker with a couple of ladles of the base and then fried the onions in spices and added that and some spinach.
My wife came in and tried a spoonful and was absolutely shocked at the depth of flavour. I’m definitely in the good books for tonight’s tea.
Thank you Romain
Delighted it was a hit and that you are in the good books!
I really loved this curry base and made it a couple of times to the point that I almost overdosed on your restaurant style Chicken Tikka Masala. How amazing that you can make such a delicious curry in just a few minutes once you’ve got the base. I also used the base for your Saag Aloo recipe and I’ve made that heaps of times before but yours had a real depth of flavour. Im so glad to have found you.
I was reading a previous comment about the amount of oil but don’t you find Romain that a certain process happens when you use a lot of oil for certain dishes and not just Indian dishes either. I’ve made things with less oil than stated even used less oil with recipes that I do all the time but it doesn’t quite turn out the same for some reason. With these oily dishes I just spoon off the excess at the end without compromising that process.
Anyway, sorry for waffling…….loved, absolutely loved this recipe and about to make up another batch.
Glebekitchen is about flavour, not your waistline:-) And fat tastes good. You can cut back on oil and save calories or you can treat yourself when it counts. I don’t eat rich food every day but when it makes a different I just go for it!
Been using this recipe for a month now and it’s the bomb … can’t believe the taste
I added 2 teaspoons chilli powder and kashmiri dried methi for step 1
Thank you so much .. my family loves me because of this site
Delighted to hear that and those sound like lovely additions!
I have been trying my entire adult life to crack the code for my local restaurant’s delicious vindaloo and thanks to you, I finally have. This base turned out beautifully. The first vindaloo missed the mark a bit because you make your recipe a bit more sweet & sour than my local restaurant’s. The second effort came extremely close and may even be better than the restaurant. I left out the tamarind paste and increased the vinegar and chili powders. I only wish I could find better lamb – perhaps a chump cut. Many thanks!
That is so awesome to hear. I’m very happy to have been part of your journey to cracking your local restaurant’s vindaloo!
Quick question.. If I heat up too much base from frozen and say have 2 ladle fulls left.. Can I let cool.. Put back in fridge and use next day.. Or is that a no no.
Ps la base e molto perfetto!
While I cannot comment on food safety because I am not a professional I can say that I do that all the time and I’m still alive:-).
What about using a pressure cooker to speed up the curry base time?
I don’t use one for it but I hear people do all the time.
I first came upon this method of restaurant style curry base 27 years ago in a British cook book. I made a few but gave up because the gravy gave off a pretty foul odour. I never worked out why. This method is pretty much identical but the taste and flavour are much improved. Sorry though, Romain, I just can’t bring myself to use that much oil in the gravy! I want to live a few more years. It doesn’t make so much of a difference and if you like oily curry, there is plenty of opportunity to add it into the final stages. I have had cookery lessons at home from the great chef Monisha Bharadwaj and she never puts this much oil in her dishes, no matter which Indian region she is cooking from. Mind you, she does rather concentrate on authentic home cooked food rather than oily, creamy, restaurant/ hotel style which, as you say is a different type of cooking altogether. I suppose what I am saying, and Romain has also said, is that there are many ways to cook a dish to your preference. Indeed, the regional variations of style and flavour across India is so huge that there is room for everyone, it seems. Keep up the good work, Romain. You have some lovely recipes and a wonderfully uncomplicated way of making them.
Glad to hear it turned out better than your previous attempts! On the subject of oil, there is a lot of oil in restaurant style cooking. That is part of the “taste”. Definitely not food for everyday. The recipes on glebekitchen tend to be zero compromise but I’m glad to hear it worked out for you with less.
Great recipes. Made this 4 or 5 times and it NEVER disappoints.
I even mentioned it to a friend of mine who owns the local Indian restaurant and he said it’s pretty much exactly the same as he does.
One thing I have always wondered is, when we simmer at the end to separate the oil from the gravy, is this covered or uncovered?
Or doesn’t it matter?
I leave it covered to cut down on evaporation.
Such a nice simple recipe. Other ones I have tried don’t put in nearly as much oil and I think that is probably what they lack. I am making this now and will try it as a base for a dopiaza.
I notice there is no carrot or bell pepper in this. I might make a batch with and without to see the difference.
I’m not a fan of carrot or bell pepper or cabbage in curry base personally. I find it colours the flavour of all the curries I make with it. But go with what you like. Always go with what you like!
Absolutely quality recipe and instructions! Thank you! I made the curry I’ve always wanted to, but not known how. It definitely is restaurant style, and you clearly know what you’re talking about!
Thanks for saying. Hope you find lots of recipes here that you enjoy!
I just love how you have given all information on your recipes I appreciate it so much, I’m just about to start the curry base but a quick question 1 and half tablespoons is what in weight please as tablespoons in my house are different sizes. Much appreciated regards Steve
Weight is a little tricky as I would have to go off and measure different spices to get accurate numbers. I can give you volume to help you dial in your spoons though. 1 tablespoon is 14ml.
Thanks made another today and got it thicker, i think i’ll make everything on this website, can’t wait!
Awesome to hear!
Amazing, i’ve cooked many curries but using this curry base is a game-changer, really delicious sauces thank you!
First curry i made wasn’t quite thick enough though maybe i need to cook the base on a higher heat when mixing it into the spices.
Awesome to hear. Do push the temp when you are cooking your curry after the first ladle of curry base.. Not only does it reduce but you get all the wonderful Maillard flavours. Maybe don’t go crazy at first but as you get more comfortable start experimenting. And welcome down the rabbit hole Alice:-).
Making this for the second time, and I have a question. A large peeled onion weighs around 2/3 to 3/4 of a pound. 8 large onions therefore weigh waaay more than 2.5 lbs. I went with the 8 large as before because it came out awesome, but a little clarification might help. TIA.
Onions vary dramatically in size. What passes for large here comes out at about 2 1/2 lbs trimmed weight. That’s why I gave the weight in the recipe. But if you are liking your results, I don’t see a reason you should change. The flavour profile will change a bit but as long as your base tastes like thin, vaguely curry flavoured and mild onion soup you should be fine. The real flavour is in the spicing and technique.
Hi, I made this yesterday to go along with your Chicken Tikka Masala recipe I’m going to make today. I’ve never really cooked Indian food properly before so you can imagine how ecstatic I am that I found your website! I just want to say the curry base came out brilliantly! The flavour is mild but even so it already tastes really good! I am very excited to make your curries and I want to try them all now ahaha! Thank you and I hope you continue your work here.
You are welcome. Hope you find lots of things you enjoy cooking here!
The largest pot I own is a 24cm Le Creuset which only holds 4.2 Liters, so I was only able to use 1.5 Liters of water. Hopefully adding water during the curry cooking process doesn’t dampen the flavors!!
It’s on the stove right now and I’m super looking forward to making the eggplant restaurant-style curry later. As a suggestion/requestion – I’ve noticed you don’t have very many vegetarian indian recipes, which I find odd as around 40% of India is vegetarian. I myself have been vegetarian for the last 22 years. I would find it super helpful if you either added to your guide 1. how to adapt other website’s vegetarian curries to using your spice/currry/garlic-ginger bases or 2. added more vegetarian curries to your website. (I know I can just sub vegetarian chicken in the chicken recipes, but you know what I mean)… Anyway, I found your blog after a daal recipe internet spiral. I still haven’t found any recipes that come close to the daal from my favorite spot though… I really enjoy your writing style and I immediatly made up a batch of your indian restaurant spice mix for a bikepacking trip I went on.
Thanks for your passion and writing about it!
I’m glad you like the writing!
You could dilute your curry base a bit before cooking (rather than try diluting the curry itself). Reason for that is you really want to fry your curry base hard to get the Maillard flavours when making the curry. That should work fine.
I am (obviously) not a vegetarian and I am not writing for an Indian audience so I don’t do as many vegetarian recipes as I probably should. India is well served by many blogs, websites and YouTube channels with everything presented in Hindi. I am writing for the rest of the world.
I am also not the voracious carnivore you might think by looking at the recipes on glebekitchen. It’s just that the people who are going for restaurant style want chicken. Or lamb. My vegetarian recipes don’t get much love at all.
That said, I do have a few tricks.
For just about any of the restaurant style (I haven’t experimented with hotel style), you can swap out the protein for paneer.
I find paneer a bit rich for my taste so I often swap out the protein for chickpeas. I quite like that. It works with just about any of the meat based curries.
Another thing I do is cook up about a cup of masoor dal with just some turmeric (salt at the end to taste). I then make any of the dishes and fold the curry sauce (no protein) into the dal. I call that anything dal. So if you feel like a saag dish – make it without the chicken and fold it into the dal. Feel like a dish with peppers and onions, make a jalfrezi without protein and fold it into the dal. And so on.
You could also use roasted eggplant or fried cauliflower or potato in lieu of the protein.
Hope that helps.
Is it possible to make this base for one meal? Instead of making a big batch.
What would I do different and how about the ingredient amounts?
If you want to just make one meal I’d suggest looking at the nearly restaurant recipes here instead.
Thank you for such a quick response. I’ll make a batch of the base and try a couple of your of restaurant recipes tonight. I’ll also have a look at your hotel style base. Love your passion for great curry.
Passion for food actually. All food…
Can you explain the Maillard reaction – if this base is just simmered, surely it wouldn’t get hot enough to get that reaction to occur – or does that magic happen later during the curry construction? Do Indian restaurants do this type of simmered base or do they brown the onions ala French onion soup to get the reaction at the base stage?
Ps. Made one if your “almost” recipes and it was the best curry I’ve ever made at home. Ever.
Glad you liked the almost restaurant curry. It’s a great time saver and it really works.
Most Indian restaurants outside of India use the curry base approach. Maillard happens above around 285F so it is happening in the pan when you fry the curry base when making your final curry.
I am also posting on a series of recipes I call hotel base which do rely on a gravy that is more aligned with really fancy Indian restaurants around the world and fairly common in restaurants in India.
Is this a base curry that will help me create recipes more in line with American Indian restaurant cooking or the style of curry served in British Indian restaurants?
That’s an interesting question. It really depends on what your local restaurants are serving. I have had many from the US tell me that they are making curries that are as good or better than what they are getting at home. This style base is consistent with what I have eaten in UK, what I get here in Canada and what I have mostly eaten in the US so the American vs British thing is not obvious to me.
If your local restaurants are serving curry similar to what you may have experienced in India (I have had that style in California in particular) then you might be better served to look at cooking what I call Indian hotel style curries – https://glebekitchen.com/hotel-style-indian-curry-gravy/
I have started posting recipes in this style – you can find them under the recipe index/indian tab at the top of the page. Not a clear answer I’m afraid but without tasting what you are eating it’s really hard to say.
Hi Romain, love your website. In cooking terms I’m a complete novice but I have cooked a few of your recipes for my family and they all loved them. I wonder if you could let us know the make and model of your cooker and the settings that you use for low, medium low, medium, medium high and high. We could then work out the equivalent settings on our own cookers. This will increase the chances of us replicating your results. Thanks, Martin
It’s an imprecise system I agree. I have a DCS 6 burner cooktop with each burner capable of outputting 20K BTU. However, I don’t use it as a reference in terms of low, medium low etc because it is a fair bit higher output than the average cooker.
What I have done is take my best guess at what the output would be on a regular cooktop (I have a vacation home with a conventional electric cooker that helps me calibrate). So low is intended to be reasonable close to low on a normal output cooker (and so on).
Thanks Romain, good to know that your recipes are designed for conventional electric cookers. It was only after I’d posted my query that I remembered from one of your videos that you used gas (thus, I thought, rendering my query pointless). Without your clarification I might have been overcooking on the basis that ‘Romain uses gas and therefore gets much better heat than my electric cooker’.
Hi Romaine,I have now produced several restaurant style dishes which turned out to be brilliant.
I want to try a fish curry next.Bit concerned about spicing as the fish has vey delicate flavour,
Any advice on this? I prefer to make my curries the day before eating as the “maturation”seems to improve the flavour.Am I to be classed as an heretic for suggesting this?
Thenks again for sharing your skills and experience.
You’re not a heretic for liking your curries more the next day. I’m not sure if they are actually better or I can taste better because my palate isn’t overloaded from cooking but I find the same thing some days.
Fish curry – really depends on the curry you choose. I tend to like fish curries with coconut milk as I find it smooths out the edges of the spices. I also like a simply spiced fish curry with some panch phoran because that’s what I grew up eating.
This turned out such a lovely silky texture, and SO tasty! It was 100% worth the effort
And now you are ready to make lots and lots of great curries!
I made a B.I.R.Sauce a while ago from recipe using 6 or so veg ingredients.Discouraged me a bit as it was horrible!
Decided to try again.I have just finished making a batch of your basic sauce and I am astonished how “right” it tastes.This is what I have been searching for for years (I am 75!) Much appreciated you are a star!
Looking forward to trying the curry recipes.Best regards & stay well.
Great to hear you finally got what you’ve been looking for. I am not a fan of adding a bunch of vegetables to my curry base either!
Making my 3rd batch of this curry base In 3 months, using a few more onions and never been back to a takeaway. All recipes being tried but the Pathia is still my best. Well worth making and freezing in portion sizes, thank you.
Great to hear it’s going well. Freezing it is definitely the way to go. Curry anytime!
Romain, discovering your site has been truly revolutionary! My wife has an unusual allergy to ginger, which has all but ruled out Indian restaurant/takeaway food for her due to the garlic-ginger paste that’s in nearly every recipe. I’m a keen home cook, so I’ve experimented with numerous home-style curry recipes, but never got close to replicating the restaurant taste. Once I’d read your articles on curry base, spice mixes etc. I decided to go for it – the results were just remarkable! Obviously my garlic paste leaves out ginger, but this doesn’t change the end result that much. My wife hadn’t tasted curry like this for years! I’ll be trying as many curry recipes as I can to perfect my method! Thanks again.
That is just fantastic to hear. I’m glad to hear your wife is getting her curry fix now and that you are getting results you are happy with!
I love this site!! I went all out, pre made all my spice mixes, then made up the Curry base and made Chicken Madras twice, Chicken Tikka Masala Twice and Chicken Jalfrezi twice (used chicken Tikka in this instead of plain chicken) so ended up with 12 portions. We ate one of each fresh and froze the rest. All were absolutely brilliant. Best curry recipes ever! Thank you so much for sharing.
Thank you so much for saying so! Great to hear that everything is working out for you. Chicken tikka jalfrezi sounds fantastic. I think that’s my dinner tomorrow night!
Making my second batch of this today. Seems I’ve made 12 curries in the past 3 weeks 🙂 .. They have all tasted wonderful. Thanks a lot for your great recipes and method/instructions.
You are very, very welcome!
Well, the mystery is solved. I couldn’t figure out why my curry base came out very gravy-like last time (still tasted amazing though and made top-notch bombay aloo), and turns out my onions must be jumbo-sized! Welcome to America. I didn’t weigh them last time, but when I weighed 8 onions today (peeled), they were 6 lbs! So I only used 4. The base looks nice and liquid this time. I also decided to add some kala namak this time in addition to regular salt and I absolutely loved how it enhanced the smell.
Yay! I’m glad you figured it out. Those are some pretty big onions indeed. 2 1/2-3 lbs is about perfect for this curry base.
I’m making the base sauce and have a small query. Is it 1 and 1/2 tbsp of cumin powder etc or one 1/2 tbsp. I’ve gone on the basis that it is 1 and 1 1/2 and I’ve just put everything on for step one. I’m really looking forward to making an actual curry with this base sauce. TIA. Anne xx
You are safe! It is 1 and 1/2 tbsp.
I’m on day 7 of your MONTREAL SMOKED MEAT recipe – I had had never explored your site ( except for the MSM recipe) – With all this pandemic time on my hands I decided to fully explore the many recipes and videos you have compiled. Great work!! In my humble opinion your simple, thoughtfull and accessible approach to cooking is refreshing — keep up the good work – PS The curry base is on the stove– PS wish I could upload pics of the brisket to your site
Thank you. I hope you find lots to enjoy here. The curry base is a gateway recipe BTW – you are about to go down the Indian restaurant cooking rabbit hole. Welcome! It’s fun.
If you post your brisket to Facebook and PM me or leave another comment here, I’ll post it on the glebekitchen Facebook page if you’d like. Happy to do that!
Hi there Romain,
Love the website, giving me plenty of inspiration with extra free time in lockdown. I wanted to ask why in this recipe you chose not to brown the onions and slightly toasting spices before adding water? I know in your recipes you brown the curry base as you go but would it not hurt to brown a little at this stage as a fail safe? Also do you have any thoughts on adding other veggies, maybe subbing a couple of onions for a rib of celery and a red bell pepper?
I like to keep my curry base really simple. There is only the faintest amount of spice in this version. The real flavour comes from cooking the individual curries. I think blooming the spices is unnecessary but probably not harmful either.
Browning the onions would take forever so I have never tried. I think it would move the overall profile of the curry base towards the sweeter end of the spectrum and I don’t think I personally would like that.
Peppers and celery I am pretty violently opposed to. I tried it once and every curry I cooked with that base tasted of peppers and celery. Never again. But everyone is different and maybe it will appeal to you.
Made this for a tikka masala on the first day of lockdown for the family and they were absolutely blown away. It was dellicious. Making a new batch of curry base now to freeze for later on. It has transformed by cooking of curry. I will use this for family parties and get-togethers in larger quantities when this is all over. Thank you so much.
That’s great to hear. Cooking Indian restaurant style isn’t that daunting once you get a few tricks down.
Note that the recipes don’t really scale linearly and the heat required to get that restaurant taste mean that it’s best to make multiple small batches when serving larger crowds.
Ok so 2 cups in batches for each curry after cooking , do you use it as it is or do you water it down before making a curry
If the consistency is somewhere between milk and light cream you are good to go. It should be somewhere around that but if it’s thicker do add a bit of water. A slightly longer cooking time (from more than 2 cups of liquid if you wind up there) isn’t a bad thing at all…
Would it be OK to let the first stage of base recipe cool before blending and then heat for the last hour to add to curry ingredients.
Yes, that’s fine. Probably safer that way as well.
What kind of onions do you use?
Plain everyday yellow cooking onions.
Hi looking forward to trying this out have been struggling for years.
Are the measurements level or heaped spoons.
I think you will be happy! I struggled for years as well once upon a time.
All measurements are level. Always.
Hi, I have made the curry base as per instructions and frozen individual potions, can’t find a curry to add this too, or am I looking in the wrong place?
Please can you point me in the right direction or tell me how I use this base.
If you go to the Indian tab in the top menu (under recipe index) any of the recipes called restaurant style (not nearly restaurant style – that’s a little different) use the curry base. There are also links in the text above to a few example recipes.
How long can you keep the curry base in the fridge?
Think of it as onion soup. You can keep it as long as you would keep that. A few days certainly. I like to freeze it in curry or double curry size portions personally. Just pull it out when I am in the mood for a restaurant style curry.
Not sure if you’ll see this on time – then again, given Lockdown. At Step 2 of the Base Stage, when you say, “simmer until the oil separates” I thought you meant to skim it but you mean to stir it into the existing pot?
Thank you from Scotland,
Yes, stir it back into the pot. Hope this got to you in time!
Had this bookmarked for an age. Due to the lockdown now have time to make it!! Mine is very bland which I would expect it to be , some taste but not a great deal , nice all the same. It is very thin , like a soup , and it’s orange , unlike the bright yellow in the picture. I wondered if it was supposed to be thin , like watery?
You are going to have fun! It should be the consistency of thin cream roughly. It sounds about right.
I’m just about to make a 2nd batch! I bottle (‘can’ for the US) the base as never have freezer space. Perfect with your Indian Spice mix as a base for many different curries. Thanks so much!
Canning. I never thought of that. Brilliant!
I used your curry base for a prawn bhuna recipe at the weekend. Amazing – went down a storm. Thanks for taking the time to create such a detailed set of recipes!
My pleasure! I’ve been meaning to get around to some prawn curries. Thanks for the reminder.
Question: I’ve recently started to dab in Indian cooking, and have found some amazing recipes (here and elsewhere), but I don’t always want to prep lots of base curry. I’ve heard that this is the “shortcut,” but how do I make 15oz of “base curry” when not wanting to use the short cut?
For example, if I wanted to make your Madras recipe without using premade curry base, is there a method for doing so?
Have you looked at the nearly restaurant style I’ve posted here? There’s a nearly restaurant madras.
Romain- just wanted to say I’ve tried other online indian recipes out there that swear they are “restaurant level” but totally fall short. Always wondered what the secret was and by some magical alignment of the universe I found your website while falling down a totally unrelated web rabbit hole. Whipped up the base and used it in your madras curry recipe and wow. Your love for food really shows and your writing style is equally bombastic. I never reach out online but I wanted to let you know that you’ve given me the key to unlocking the flavors I’m always wondering about and, in that way, made me very happy. You seem like a cool dude.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and humor with the rest of us anonymous strangers. I know I’m not the only one who appreciates it.
Thanks for taking the time to reach out like this. Really appreciated. You made my day!
The web is a really big place. I’m glad you found me.
Totally agree! Not made any curry yet (can’t wait though!) but have been reading this blog/site like a novel that I can’t put down!! Love your style of writing .Thanks-it’s brill! ?
That is just awesome to hear. I’m glad you are enjoying it so much!
This recipe has served me very well, I absolutely love this blog! All of my friends now come to my house for an indian instead of ordering a takeaway.
Thank you very much for saying so! My friends also tell me I’ve ruined Indian restaurants for them:-)
Hi. The blurb above the recipe mentions cabbage and bell pepper, but they’re not in the actual recipe? How much of each should be used? Thanks.
I think I may not have been clear. I do not like or use these types of ingredients because they tend to colour the taste of the curry. The recipe is 100 percent correct as written. I use the posted recipe every time I make curry base.
Hi Romain- “til the oil seperates out”. I know what this is and can see when it happens but what’s the significance of this particular point? The dal I’ve just made used the exact same phrase . S
That is a very good question. I’m not sure I understand the food science behind this one I am afraid. I’ve seen people say that oil and water emulsify and the oil separates out after the water has evaporated. Obviously that’s not the case here and I’m pretty sure that’s not the case when you make a curry either.
If it’s true that the water and oil have emulsified then my guess it reaches a temperature (or sits at a certain temperature long enough) that breaks the emulsion. At that point the oil separates out. That’s nothing more than an educated guess mind you. If you ever do get a definitive answer I would love to hear it.
Oh wow, this is a revelation! Tried it last weekend and it’s absolutely fabulous. It’s by far the closes curry I’ve ever made to those I’ve had at Indian restaurants. I’d given up on trying to replicate something similar until I saw this. This will be my go-to recipe for all future currys.
Thnaks very much for posting it.
Just made my second lot of this excellent curry base.
One little tip for freezing is to pop the 2 cup portions into freezer bag, lay them flat then freeze. You can then store them like thin books in the freezer.
Also to say that a few times I cheated (sorry) and used your great base, plus a portion of garlic / ginger paste (which I also freeze in ice cube trays BUT then (cause I was short of time) added a Pataks curry pot for two. Worked well but not as good as the original.
I don’t think that’s cheating. I would call that improvising. Freezer bag is a great idea. Thanks for sharing that tip!
Patak’s really isn’t the one you want if you cheat, Nazir’s is the one, I find Patak’s is quite bitter in comparison. Anyway, great site and info, I’ve worked in an Indian restarant and the advice is spot on. Adjust things to your own tastes, but most of all, enjoy it.
Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately for me Nazir’s isn’t available where I live. I will look for it online.
Thank you as well for the kind words. It’s great to hear!
I notice that your recipe does not have any bell peppers. Over the years I think every Bir base gravy I have seen has included some green or red peppers, sometimes both. Is there a reason why you do not use peppers?
I just don’t like any of the so called “secret ingredients”. I use base gravy as I would onions when I devise recipes. I don’t want the taste of peppers or carrots or cabbage sneaking in and colouring the flavour. Plus different curries start to taste the same I find when the base has too dominant a flavour.
Totally makes sense. I see so many base gravy recipes, and have also tried several, that have other ingredients such as peppers, cabbage, carrots, condensed milk, coconut block, chilis etc. And you end up with a curry that just tastes like base gravy. I will try your base version soon, along with your curry recipes.
I made a half batch of the curry base which is in a bowl waiting to be divided into individual portions.
I don’t know how much base is in the bowl and I don’t want to transfer it into a measuring jug to find out.
Can you tell me how many grams of curry base is one portion?
Have you a recipe for nann bread?
I don’t know exactly but as an approximation 15 fluid ounces is 443 ml. 1 ml of water is 1 gram so around 443 grams? Safest thing to do would be put a measuring jug on your scale. Tare it to zero and add 15 fluid ounces of base. Weigh that and you will know exactly. I don’t have any thawed curry base handy to try it myself.
I am working on a foolproof chapati recipe. Once I have that naan is next.
Great recipe! I just wanted to ask can you used dry ground ginger powder or does it have to be fresh? And if you can use it, how much? Many thanks ?
Thanks! I’ve never tried this with dried ginger. I have no idea how it would turn out. Given that so many curry recipes include garlic ginger paste I would leave it out of the base before I tried it with dried.
Is fresh ginger hard to come by where you are? I hope not because fresh made garlic ginger paste is a lot better than the stuff you buy in the jars…
No I can get it fine, it’s just because I have the dried stuff handy. Thank you so much for your reply. Also when you make the curry base, if you half the ingredients for it to make a smaller amount of curry base, should you reduce the cooking time at all or does this stay the same?
Thanks again 🙂
The cooking time stays the same. But make lots. If you like making restaurant style curries you will use it up in no time.
Hello, I hope you’re well.
I have just made this & I’m not sure if the flavour is right. It’s not unpleasant but not sure if I’ve made a mistake. Please can you clear something up for me?
Is it 1 AND a half tbsp or 1 x half tsp
Is it 1 AND a half tsp or 1 x half tsp
Many thanks 🙂
It’s 1 and 1 half tsp and 1 and 1/2 tsp. I wouldn’t worry too much about it though. The curry base is pretty bland by design. The real flavours come from the actual curry recipes it is used in. Anything labeled “restaurant style” on glebe kitchen is meant to be used with this curry base.
Note the “nearly restaurant style” recipes are stand-alone and do not use this curry base.
Good luck. I’m pretty sure you will be OK.
Thank you… do you think it would be ok to reheat it & add the missing spice before letting it cool again?
No harm I don’t think. Again, given that you are adding upwards of a Tbsp of spice per individual curry I don’t think that it’s going to make much of a difference. Just remember for next time. Maybe try making a restaurant style curry first and see what you think?
Wondering if it would work to sub the veg oil with ghee? Or maybe a half and half mixture? Any idea?
I’ve tried it with ghee. You get a more buttery base. I find it blunts the flavour of the curries but if you are after a really buttery taste (say for a butter chicken) then it could work.
oops, just added ghee instead of oil thinking I was being clever! Well let’s see how it turns out. Did you really use 2.8 litres of water in your video? I have the exact same Le Creuset pan as you and it is relying on physics to keep it in there! – very excited at the thought of finding a genuine method of copying the restaurant style.
Ghee will just make the base and subsequent curries a little more subdued. I find using ghee adds richness but mutes the flavours of the spices. The Le Creuset I use for base is the 6.3 litre size and yes, I do use 2.8 litres of water. Happy currying!
Cilantro??? Fresh Coriander in the UK! right?
Yes. Fresh coriander in the UK is cilantro here in Canada. Actually it goes by both names here to further confuse things…
Hi going to try your recipe on Tuesday can’t wait just wondering do I just throw in the cilantro or chop it up first?
Just throw it in. It all gets pureed…
Has anybody tried making curry base in a slow cooker/crock pot. It seems ideal for it
I haven’t tried that. I don’t have a slow cooker so I don’t know if the simmer would be high enough. I have done it in a pressure cooker. That’s marginally faster but not enough that I find it worth it to dig out the pressure cooker when I have a pot and a stove handy.
This stuff is liquid gold. I used it with a few of the recipes on this site, and just finished a pork shoulder in the slow cooker with it and it came out great.
That is awesome! Never thought to use it that way.
Hi all.could you please give me the know hòw to do a balti keema.i had an illness in my throat a while ago,unfortunately from then I have to have things super mild,haven’t had an indian in year’s .ive been reading all the posts,mouth watering..please help
I’m sorry to hear that. Hope you are on the mend. I’m afraid I don’t have a balti keema recipe on the blog yet. There is a keema matar recipe here. If you left the peas out it would make for a simple and not too spicy keema.
Awesome sauce! This is dope. I just need to get someone to cut the onions for me because it makes me wet(my eyes). And then how do I make the actual dish with their base? It would be helpful to know.
First step is to read the primer on how to make Indian restaurant style curries. There’s a link in the text of this post. After that all the recipes that say “Indian restaurant” style on glebekitchen use this base. There are lots to choose from and more coming all the time.
Best site I’ve found. Makes a change not to be baffled by Indian cooking methods any more. Thanks for your time and effort. Making the curry base tomorrow, looking forward to trying some of your recipes. Keep up the good work. Phil.
Thank you. So glad you found it and I hope you enjoy the recipes!
Thankyou for this romain , I have a friend who watched numerous utube vids to try to make a takeaway type curry – many attempts and messy kitchens later he was successful but your version is so simple and I love that you can make it “in bulk” I I cook like that a lot anyway so when I am short of time I can just pull one out of the freezer. I will be watching out for your other recipes, Thankyou
Thank you for saying so Wendy. It’s always great to hear that people are succeeding!
1. Following on from the advice you gave lyne above (about diluting her curry base before she used it as you thought she has evaporated it down too much) could you therefore intentionally make the base with half the water to make it twice as concentrated and then use 1 cup per curry instead of 2. Purely to reduce the volume of space it would take up in my freezer…
2. I know you said the 1 cup of oil is the minimum. What is the reason for that? Flavour, consistency,…? I am really trying to eat low fat (which is how I came to look for curry recipies from scratch rather than pre-made. Have you experimented with less oil? If so what were the results?
I have never tried making concentrated curry base. For sure if you do, you will need to dilute it back to the thin soupy consistency before you make the curry. When you are making restaurant style curry the high heat help is critical to the flavour (it’s maillard reaction I believe) and if you start with a concentrated base it will get way too thick.
Indian restaurant style curry is high fat. Period. It’s in the base. It’s in the pan when you are cooking the final curry. There’s really no getting around it.
There are quite a few homestyle curries on this blog. They are much lower fat but still not what I would call diet food. The lemon coriander chicken curry is pretty lean. So is the simple chicken curry. The lentil and chickpea curries aren’t bad either. Hope this helps.
Making this right now, and so excited to try making curries at home! Hubby & I LOVE curry, but we’re not anywhere near an Indian restaurant. It’s over an hour drive time, round trip. I have high hopes for this, looking through all the recipes there are to try.
THANK YOU so very much for posting all of this. We’re ready to cook it all, plus some! :-D. I’ll go and look..I’ve forgotten if I’ve seen it, but if you don’t have a recipe for Malai Kofta, I’d love one.
Awesome. There is a pretty good list of curries up on glebekitchen and I’m adding more all the time. I don’t have one for malai kofta yet but I will add it to the list!
Hi there love the recipe, i’m not too sure if i’ve done something wrong! I’ve ended up with 4 boxes for full of 2 cup portions.
Sam – are you saying you have ended up with a total of 8 cups of base. Sounds like too much water evaporated. Add water until you get to a soup like texture. You should have at least 8 portions. You don’t want your base too concentrated because it will make your curries too thick. If you’ve already frozen them you can dilute them when you thaw them out…
Hi, I love your curry recipes, the flavours are great.
I disagree with how many portions you say it makes though. At the end you of the recipe you say we should have 10-12 portions of base, with 2 cups per portion, so 20-24 cups. Your main volume comes from 12 cups of water, 1 tin of tomatoes and 1 cup of oil, so say 15 cups after the onions are blended in before any boiling, making it impossible to end up with 16 cups, never mind 24. The 2 hours of simmering left me with 10 cups of base.
Steven, you had me scratching my head about this a bit.
12 cups of water, 2 cups of tomatoes, a cup of oil and a huge amount go onions gets you there. the onions shrink as they cook because water is being drive out of the onion but into the pot. If you don’t have 20 cups at the end you have boiled off water. Add some back in until you get to at least 16 cups. You want your curry base to be the consistency of milk or very light cream.
Might be worth correcting the post 🙂 I fell in the same pit.
By the way, these are amazing recipes!!!
Actually I was right originally and my guess is you boiled off a bunch of water. I have actually corrected my comment instead. Thanks for bringing this one back to the top so I could sort it out.
Thank you! You explain well and I’ve tried some recipes and it works! Beautiful food and happy each time. Much appreciated 🙂
So glad it’s working for you. It’s easy once you get the basics down.
I have worked my way through every curry over the past few months and i can honestly say me and my hubby have enjoyed every single one of them ..u are brilliant!! ..x
That is very, very kind. I’ll try to get a couple more curries up soon to keep you from getting bored!
Can you tell me what volume “12 cups” is?
Sorry Mal – a cup is 8 ounces so 12 cups would be 96 ounces or about 2.8 litres.
I made this recently and we liked it so much now making bigger second batch to freeze. Used it for the base of South Indian garlic chilli chicken my husband said was almost as good as his favourite take away. Having the base made it easier to prepare curry in a short time. Great recipe thanks
Lyne, freezing it in curry size portions is a great idea. Do that and you are ready for a curry at a moments notice. That’s the beauty of this.
Hi, do you have the recipe for your south Indian garlic chilli? That’s my favourite curry but I don’t live anywhere near a curry house that makes it well. Thanks!
I am Indian and managed to replicate my mother’s food which for me is great but I wanted to take it to the next level. The curry base by itself tastes amazing which is funny, can’t wait to try a few recipes with it. I was wondering can I substitute fish/prawns for the meats? Thank you!
Jay – I think you will be happy! You can use fish or prawns but I would not pre-cook them. Just poach them in the curry. Add them when the recipe tells you to add the meat and simmer gently until done.
Great, thanks. I’m going to give it a go with salmon!
Yes, I cooked one of Romaine’s fantastic recipes last night and just added prawns at the very end and let them simmer in the sauce for about 10 mins. Came out delish and tender. His method is excellent. Really works.
Glad it’s working out for you! I need to get going on a prawn curry or two soon.
As far as I am concerned you deserve to be knighted. Please continue this holy task and be blessed.
Thank you. Very kind indeed. I’m so glad that I am able to share.
Can you please recommend a good Indian spice shop in London?
Mickey – I’m not from London but Plentiful Foods NW1 looks like a good candidate and the reviews are quite favourable.
Brilliant just what I’ve been looking for……
Glad you found it. Took me years to figure out what I was searching for. Lots of curry recipes on the blog once you get your base made.
First and foremost, thank you so much for enlightening us with this recipe!! I’m so excited to finally cook REAL Indian food at home! Those “homestyle” recipes taste nothing like what you get in a restaurant. However, when you’re boiling this curry base, is the pot covered or uncovered? Each time? I’m assuming uncovered, because you want it to concentrate, but that’s one of my little pet peeves with blog recipes, when details like this aren’t specified. Also, I’d like to put in a request for a saag curry recipe – saag’s my favorite, and I always order it at Indian restaurants, usually with lamb. 🙂 Thanks!
Thank you. I hope you try lots of recipes restaurant style. It’s fun once you figure it out. It’s uncovered but loosely covered would do as well. Concentrated isn’t so important here and it’s a simmer so you won’t reduce much in any case. I’m always careful to say covered or loosely covered when that’s what I mean. I will put a saag recipe on the list. I like it too!
I made the curry base was very good
Can I dublie the recipes or triple it.
And do u have nice recipe for chicken korma
Looking forward to her from you
Glad you liked it. You can certainly double or triple it. I’m sure they do that all the time in professional kitchens. Don’t have a korma yet but it is on my to-do list.
I love veggie Korma… delicious!!
Will you include some recipes with beans??
Green beans you mean? I did a vegetable sambar recently.
Wow this is really good I made some last night to add to some chicken that I had previously cooked and it really brought it back to life. Thank you so much for this recipe.
I’m glad you liked it. If you have a chance, check out the Indian restaurant curry at home post and try your hand at a curry or two.
Hi I was just wondering what size cup measurements of water
One cup is 237ml.
Hi could this be cooked in a pressure cooker?
Yes, absolutely. I do that sometimes. Cut the initial cooking time to about 45 minutes but then simmer the pureed base as in the directions.
You use imperial units to measure ingredients. I convert them into metrical units s7ch grams/kilograms etc. However one thing that is not clear is what cups you use…there is so much difference between cups. Can you please tell me how much milliliters is the cup you use. My big saucepan could not gather 12 cups of mine. So I am adding them as the liquid evaporates with the cooking. Please also can you clarify what you mean by 2 cups are worth 1 curry. Do you mean that 1 curry is enough for 2 portions/servings/people? This is confusing as in the pathia recipe is says it is enough for 2 servings but the amount of curry hase used is 2 cups (worth 1 curry as you describe it). Can you please clarify how much base we use for 1 serving, then I can work it out depenging on how many people I cook for?
237ml per cup.
The restaurant style curries call for 15 oz of curry base. That is enough for one recipe’s worth which is two moderate servings. The curry base recipe says 2 cups of base per serving/curry. What I mean by that is if you freeze 2 cups of curry base it is enough for one recipe’s worth of any of the restaurant style curries. There’s an extra ounce – yes – but this is not baking. A little imprecision is not the end of the world.
15oz = 1 curry recipe = two portions.
Apologies for the confusion.
So simply pyt as you use cups to measure – 1 cup per person?
Also if I am cooking for 12 people how do I put 12 cups in one pot? How much curry base at a time?
Many thanks. Can’t wait ti try it but just need these clarifications…
Great post! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! I was wondering how long can the curry base sit in the freezer before use it? And if I can cut the recipe in half, since I don’t plan to make 12 curries within a week?
You are very welcome. Thank you for reading it. I think you could halve the recipe without any problem. In a freezer, I think it would probably last for a couple months although I never seem to manage to keep it around that long.
Could the Base be used for a curry with salmon in it,I am looking at a salmon curry recipe that already has a lot of ingredients ( spices etc) ??
Without seeing the recipe it is hard to say. You can adapt any of the Indian restaurant style curries on the blog to work with fish if that helps…
I made a salmon curry! Make your curry as you want (leave salmon out) then when its almost done nestle salmon into the sauce/mix and lightly spoon sauce over salmon. I cubed mine fwiw. Let simmer until done (for me it was about 8 mins). Then carefully spoon your serving out!
I make this regularly and it takes me a month to get through the batch of twelve. I’ve not noticed any deterioration in the quality after this time. You do know that you don’t just defrost it? It has to be hot when you add it after your spice blend and tomato base as you don’t want to lose too much heat in the pan when you’re hard frying the base for the caramelisation to occur.
I L.O.V.E Indian food! I can’t wait to see more of your Indian food recipes 😀
Fantastic post. This will be going into my little recipe book. I would love to do more Indian style curries and I’m excited you have a selection for me to pick from. Do you have any suggestions on what spices to layer on top of this curry base?
Joyce – this is the first in a series of blogs on how to cook real Indian restaurant curry (well second I guess as I posted garlic ginger paste recently). In the coming weeks I will publish posts on spice mixes, techniques and some restaurant favourite curry recipes.
YAY! I can’t wait!!!! 😀
I have tried this twice I reduced the volume of water I think it was better for me more flavour
This is a really good recipe Shona
Great to hear you like it! The reason it’s so thin is you fry it when you make the actual curry. It reduces in the pan. If it’s too thick when you start your final curry will also be too thick.
Made this yesterday. Used 2.5 lb onions which were rather large. The base has a bitter overpowering onion taste and I do not know whether it is just overgrown strong onion or what. Help
I can’t think of anything other than the onions. If you simmered the onions until they were mushy they should be quite mild in flavour. The curry base should taste like a quite mild curry flavoured onion soup. Certainly it should not be bitter at all. I’m sorry I can’t be more help. I’ve never had a hint of bitter and I make this recipe often.
Add some sugar to neutralise the bitterness
Yes, a little sugar helps or even tomato sauce – other things too such as cinnamon, gara masala and even some frozen spinach and or peppers can be added.
You didn’t cook the onions for long enough. If you blend onions which are not completely cooked you will get this taste. Not much you can do to save just give it a bit longer next time and maybe smaller segments.
Make sure the onions are cooked slow enough to caramelize and get nice and soft even soggy. This makes it more sweet and less bitter. Also lower the amount of turmeric, cumin and coriander. These are bitter spices. Especially tumeric. I’d adjust these by 1/2 a teaspoon down. I find it’s always best to start at half a teaspoon personally and work my way up. You’ll know how to do it better once you notice which spice changes the flavour. It takes a lot of patience and experimentation to make curry I think. Everyone has their own. There isn’t a standard curry that tastes the same at everyone’s house. Start here and start with lower spices and experiment. You’ll find your own.
Not sure I entirely agree with this. The onions are simmered in a lot of water. There is no browning here. No caramelization. No significant Maillard reaction. And the amount of spice in this amount of curry base is extremely low. Background flavours really. This isn’t a recipe for a homestyle curry. This is a recipe for a restaurant style curry base. They are two very different things.
That said, I do agree that taking the time to simmer the onions until they are truly soft is important.
The title does say it’s a restaurant style curry base…
I understand that this is intended to be a relatively quick version of the curry base, but I’ve made it by first browning the onions and garlic for hours in a slow cooker and that has really expanded the taste. Anyway, the techniques described here have improved my cooking beyond belief, so thanks for that.
Glad to be of help. This version is in line with what you would expect to get at an Indian restaurant. What you describe is more aligned with the series of recipes labelled hotel style here on glebekitchen.
sounds good but what do you add to the base to make it different kinds if sauce?
You use it as an ingredient in any of the recipes that say “restaurant style” on glebekitchen.
Hi the curry base , can I ask is it 1 and a half of those tablespoons or I of those measurements
If it says 1 1/2 tablespoons it means 1 and 1/2 (3/2) tablespoons.
Oh no! Totally misunderstood this and thought it meant one half of a tablespoon… what to do now? Am just on stage two of this base.
You’ll be OK. It won’t be exactly right but this is really, mostly a lot of boiled onions in the end. It will just turn out a little milder than intended but it’s meant to a blank canvas on which you create the actual curries. It’s how you use it and the spices in the actual curries that will make the difference. Keep going. It will be fine!