Introduction: How to Make Indian Restaurant Curry Base - the Secret to Making Multiple Batches of Curries Quickly

About: Inventor and Emergency Doctor.

I have been intrigued by Indian Restaurant curries for many years; I adore the rich, complex sauces but, try as I might I simply couldn't recreate them at home. I figured it had something to do with onions but I couldn't work out what to do. I asked a colleague who is trained as an Indian restaurant chef and he told me the secret is curry base.

Curry base tastes like a mild curry-flavoured onion soup, is made in advance and is the basis for most of the curries in the restaurant. This is how they can have 30 curries on the menu and serve them at the drop of a hat. For each individual curry you simply fry the relevant spices, brown some onions and whatever veg you want, add the pre-cooked meat, curry base, tomato puree and simmer for a few minutes. Once you've got your curry base you can make a curry-house curry in 15 minutes.

Here is my recipe for aubergine madras using the curry base; This recipe needs to cook for an hour and a half to soften the aubergine but the curry base cuts down prep-time dramatically.

I usually use some of the base and freeze the rest in portions. It's awesome being able to get a block out of the freezer and make a restaurant-quality curry in 15 minutes. It tastes like a curry-house curry but is less oily and garlicky and you can tailor it to your own tastes.

We are having some friends over for dinner in a couple of weeks time; planning ahead,I am in the process of making a range of curries; each time I eat a couple of portions and freeze a couple so that when my friends come round we can all go out for the day then I can effortlessly serve 6 homemade curries in the evening. So far I have prawn phall, aubergine madras, pumpkin madras, tarka dhall and basa tandoori masala. Epic!

Serves 10 - 12.

Preparation time 20 minutes.

Cooking time 3 hours.


1.2 kg onions (about 6 big onions, weight after peeling).

A bulb of garlic

6 vegetable stock cubes

2 inch piece of ginger

5 teaspoons ground cumin

5 teaspoons turmeric

5 teaspoons coriander

Large handful fresh coriander

3l boiling water

Can of chopped tomatoes

250mls vegetable oil

Step 1: The Onions

Peel and chop the onions and add them to a large pan with 3l of boiling water. The pan needs to have a close-fitting lid. Bring back to the boil.

Step 2: The Spices

Add the spices. I prefer to grind my own using a dedicated coffee grinder as the flavours are fresher (my mum's top tip; she cooks loads of curries). Add the coriander, ginger, garlic and oil. Bring to the boil and put the lid on.

Step 3: Cook for an Hour

Cook in the oven for an hour at 170 degrees, I used the Aga which is great for slow cooking.

Step 4: Tomatoes

Add the tin of tomatoes, bring back to a simmer and put back in the oven for another half an hour.

Step 5: Blend and Finish Cooking

Blend in a liquidiser or using a hand-held blender until smooth, then cook for another hour and a half and you are done! I will follow up this Instructable with another on how to use your curry base.

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