Curry Sauce Recipe – The Base Gravy For All Your Curry Needs

This curry sauce recipe is the basis for all British Indian Restaurant (BIR) curries. We are going to make a few batches that you can freeze for later, use right away or keep in the fridge for a few days.

It’s just like having money in the bank, or in this case like having gold in little takeaway dishes.

All of the British Indian curry recipes you will find on this blog use this base gravy – usually around 3-4 ladles of it.

Curry Base Gravy Recipe for BIR Style Curries

Why is Curry Sauce Used in Indian Restaurants and Takeaways?

When Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants moved to the United Kingdom in the last century, many naturally decided to open their own curry houses and restaurants.

This presented a problem. Curries can take a long time to prepare, and contain complex flavours and ingredients. How could they prepare food for their customers quickly?

The ingenious answer came in the form of creating large batches of base gravy, or curry sauce.

The British have had a long association with curries and also gravy. Today if you visit a curry house in the UK, you will most likely get a curry which is smooth in texture and quickly prepared.

These curries are not authentic in the sense of what Indian families would eat at home, but they have become a fusion food known as BIR or British Indian Restaurant style cooking.

In fact you could well argue that curry is the national dish in Britain. 

This style of preparing curries has become very popular all across Europe and the United States, as well many other countries in the world. 

What Does Curry Sauce Taste Like?

Base Gravy by itself tastes much like carrot and coriander soup! That’s why it needs more spices and ingredients added to it to create each one of the curries that it provides the basis for.

Think of it like a stock or soup base that we will build on for each curry.

It brings a smooth texture and vegetable flavour base to all the curries we will make from Korma to Vindaloo, Tikka to Tarka Dhal. The list goes on and on. 

Is Curry Sauce Vegan?

Yes curry sauce is both vegetarian and vegan. The ingredients are all plant-based and vegetable oil is used.

If you want to use this base gravy curry sauce for vegan recipes, may I suggest chickpeas or lentils for amazing results? A Dhal is a delight for vegans, flexitarians or even dare I say, carnivores. 

Curry Sauce Recipe – The Base Gravy For All Your Curry Needs

How Do I Make Curry Sauce From Scratch?

Please follow this step by step recipe to achieve the best results.

Ingredients For Curry Sauce Recipe

100g or 1/2 cup of chopped carrot 

1/2 Green Pepper chopped and seeds removed

1 teaspoon of Brown Sugar

200ml or 0.84 of a Cup Vegetable Oil

1 Teaspoon of Garam Masala

1.5kg or 3.3 lbs of White Onions – peeled and roughly chopped

1/2 White Cabbage Chopped

100g or 1/2 cup of Potato peeled and roughly chopped

1&1/2 teaspoon of Fine Sea Salt

100g Garlic & Ginger Paste (equal amounts of garlic and ginger blitzed in the food processor + a little water)

1 teaspoon of Turmeric

2 Litres of Water

160g or 1 Cup of Tomato Puree

80ml or 1/3 Cup of Coconut Milk

40g or 1/2 Cup of Freshly Chopped Coriander

2 Tablespoons of Mix Powder:

1 Tablespoon of Ground Cumin Seeds (Use a Coffee Grinder or Pestle & Mortar – Freshly ground tops stale spices every time)

1/4 Teaspoon Garam Masala

1 & 1/2 Tablespoons of Madras Curry Powder

1 Tablespoon of Ground Coriander Seeds (Use a Coffee Grinder or Pestle & Mortar)

1/2 Tablespoons of Paprika (Best if it isn’t Smoked)

I like to use East End Spices but you can use whatever brand you would like to infuse your base gravy.

Base Gravy Curry Sauce Recipe Method

  1. Pour the vegetable oil into a non-stick pan and heat over a medium to a high heat. A non-stick pan helps to create a lovely smoky taste in your curries, and may be worth considering investing in.
  2. Put your onions into the pan and heat them until they are translucent and transparent. Don’t let them burn or go too brown. 
  3. Add the green pepper (or bell pepper), carrot and white cabbage then stir to make sure they are combined.
  4. After 5 minutes add the fresh ginger and garlic paste as well as all of the spices. Don’t add the turmeric just yet – we will add it later.
  5. Now add the tomato puree & enough water (roughly 500ml or 2 cups) to just cover the vegetables. Now add the turmeric. Simmer for around 30 minutes.
  6. After around 30 minutes take your curry sauce off the heat and let it cool a little.
  7. When your curry sauce has cooled somewhat, put the base gravy into a blender (in batches if you need to) & blend until it is nicely smooth. You can also use a hand blender if you have one.
  8. When you are happy with the consistency of your sauce, put it back in the pan and simmer for around an hour.

It will end up with a similar texture to milk, and have a lovely golden colour.

How Long Will My Base Gravy Keep For?

You can portion it up in little takeaway dishes or freezer bags, and keep it in the freezer for months.

Best to portion it up for each curry you make – a curry for two will need around 3-4 ladles of base gravy, so put 3-4 ladles in each portion.

You can of course use your curry sauce right away, or place your base gravy in the fridge to keep for 3-4 days.

Well done, you have nailed this most crucial Base Gravy Curry Sauce Recipe! You are now ready to make almost any British Indian Restaurant recipe!

Watch our video on Curry Base gravy in the slow cooker below. It’s a slightly different version that gets similarly great results.

Related Recipes Using Curry Base Gravy

If you would like another article on Base Gravy or Curry Sauce try here:

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