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Basic Curry Sauce 4, Without Onions and Garlic
Basic Curry Gravy 4, Without Onions and Garlic

Reeta Kumar

Most curry sauces in UK, almost all actually, have the base as onion, ginger garlic these days. People often forget that a large number of people in India still do not eat onions and garlic, especially garlic. Both are considered Tamsic foods and so avoided by strict Hindus. Also, out of season onions can be quite expensive in India. So even good restaurants make curry sauces with very little or no onions. Makes enough for a curry for 4 people.

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1 tbsp. cooking oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds (or use black mustard seeds or rai/Panch Pooran
1 small pinch of asafoetida
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated/chopped
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely grated or finely chopped or use 200 gm. tinned tomatoes.
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1/4 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. of coriander powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. besan or gram flour, to thicken the sauce (optional)
Water for gravy.
1/2 tsp. Garam masala
A handful of chopped coriander leaves for garnish
Optional; These whole spices can be added along with cumin seeds for extra warm flavour of garam masala.
2-3 large brown cardamoms (Badi Illaichi), cracked
1-2 inch piece of cassia, cinnamon (Dalchini)
5-6 black pepper corns
5-6 cloves
A couple of bay leaves


1.Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds (plus optional whole spices, if used) and a pinch of asafoetida powder and let the seeds splutter.
2.Add tomatoes and all the powdered spices, except ground garam masala, and salt and stir fry until oil begins to come off the edges. This doesn’t take long, so keep a close eye on it.
3.Now your masala mix is ready to add main ingredients and/or water, as the recipe dictates; some things need to be fried in the spice mix first and then water added, while others, like Koftas, require a gravy to be made first. In this case, water is added to the spice mix and boiled for a few minutes, before adding koftas. This amount of spice mix will support about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water.
4.Adjust salt and chillies to your own taste.
5.Stir in garam masala and coriander leaves at the end.


To thicken this type of sauce/gravy, add a tablespoon or two of dry fried besan or gram flour along with the tomatoes at step 2.
Ground Poppy seeds (soak seeds for a few hours and then blend) can also be added at step 2, along with tomatoes.
You can add a couple of tablespoons of thick yoghurt or double cream or sour cream to the gravy.

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