Homemade Indian curry base

    1 hour 30 min

    This curry base is easy to make using only Indian spices which can be bought from most supermarkets. This can be used with any meat, poultry or vegetables you want and is easily frozen to be used when you need it. Read the tips below before you begin to ensure you get the best results for your taste buds.

    Lombardia, Italy
    752 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 5 cardamom pods, split
    • 2 teaspoons each cumin seeds, whole and ground
    • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, ground
    • 75g vegetable ghee or butter ghee
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 2 tablespoons garam masala powder
    • 4 bay leaves
    • 1 tablespoon curry powder
    • 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
    • 1 piece dried cinnamon bark
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 2 medium onions, chopped finely
    • 3 teaspoons chilli powder (or to taste)
    • 1 teaspoon white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
    • 1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes
    • 3 teaspoons tomato puree
    • 200ml water

    Prep:30min  ›  Cook:1hr  ›  Ready in:1hr30min 

    1. Prepare the spices. With a pestle and mortar gently crush the cardamom pods, cumin and coriander seeds until they "pop". Do not grind the seeds, just break the shells gently.
    2. Prepare any meat, poultry or vegetables. Have your meat ready and cubed in the fridge. Chop any vegetables ready to be added to the pot. Otherwise, you can simply make the base and freeze it for another day.
    3. In a large pot melt the ghee and oil. Add all the spices except the chilli powder for now. Let the spices gently sizzle for 5 minutes.
    4. Add the garlic and onion and sweat until softened. Add half the chilli powder, the sugar and salt to taste.
    5. If you want to freeze it, let it cool and place it in a container; your curry base is ready.
    6. Otherwise at this stage, if you are adding meat or poultry only, add it now and gently stir until its thoroughly cooked through. For a vegetable curry add your vegetables in the order they take to cook, ie add sweet peppers first and then courgette.
    7. Remove the cinammon bark. See footnote.
    8. When your meat is cooked and/or your vegetables are softening you can now add the tomatoes, tomato puree and water. Stir well and continue to let it simmer gently with a lid for around 1 hour to reduce. Remember to add more water if it gets too dry.
    9. Taste your curry. Add more chilli if you want it. The longer you cook it the more mellow the spices become and the better the flavour. Season to taste with salt. Add a little more sugar if it is too bitter for your liking.
    10. Serve your curry with some fragrant basmati rice. Remember to rinse the rice thoroughly in cold water first until the water runs clear unless you particularly want a sticky rice. Add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and 1 teaspoon of turmeric to the rice pot for lovely yellow, fragrant rice.
    11. Enjoy!


    Make sure to taste the curry regularly you can add more spices if you need to. If you have time, let it simmer for several hours on a very low heat, stirring occasionally and top up with water if it gets too thick. Adding the sugar takes away the bitterness of the spices, you can add more or omit this to your taste.


    Ghee is a clarified butter which is used in traditional Indian cooking. It is now widely available either from your supermarket or from a local Indian shop. I insist that you should try to find the vegetable or butter ghee for your curry. I have tried with and without. The difference in taste is huge, it gives a very authentic and rich flavour. Of course for a dairy free alternative, you can use vegetable oil instead.


    I prefer to leave the cardamom pods and bay leaves in the curry. It adds to the flavour and can easily be removed before serving if you wish. Although you can eat the cardamom pods as they soften with cooking, the bay leaves are not pleasant to chew.

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    Reviews in English (7)


    the best ever home made curry sauce... made it before to have with vegetable biryani... and am now making it again.... absolutely delicious....  -  08 Mar 2013


    AMAZING RECIPIE! Recommend for anyone who likes Indian and wants something homemade. also works well with or without ghee. it takes a bit longer than the recipie says but that doesn't really matter. the spice matures well in a slow cooker, and the meat becomes more tender. highly recommend you try!  -  01 Sep 2012


    Well tasty and I did add all the chilli. Excellent recipe, well done.  -  23 May 2015