This six-ingredient simple and no-fuss Onion tomato masala (Indian Curry paste) made with pantry staples is a perfect base to many Indian curries. Add some protein and veggies to the sauce and spruce up your boring dinner to restaurant-style dining. Naturally vegan, gluten-free and freezer-friendly too!
I am often asked this question, “Is Indian food complicated? Does it require a lot of work to prepare an Indian dish?” Trust me; it is a common misconception that Indian food is difficult to make. You can quickly cook great Indian food at home with some time-saving tricks. And today, I am going to unfold one of my favorite time-saving tricks.
Yes, compared to other cuisines, Indian curries does require an extra step to prepare a dish. And that extra step is the preparation of the base sauce: Onion Tomato Masala or a gravy base for Indian curries!
The best thing about this versatile and flavorful masala, aside from being a base recipe, is that it can be used in almost all the Indian recipes that call for onion, ginger, garlic, and tomato as base ingredients. Be it any dish veg or non-veg; you can adapt it to suit your preferences.
Let’s explore all types of Gravy bases used in Indian Cooking!
- Chunky: this kind of masala is prepared with finely chopped onions, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes. The result is a chunky masala that is a perfect tempering to many Indian dals and dry veggies. Chunky masala adds a perfect texture and crunch to that particular dish — E.G., Indian dals, and Matar paneer.
- Smooth: this is a mild kind of masala where onions, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes (separately) are blended in a food processor until smooth. The paste of all the ingredients is combined in a pan and cooked until the oil leaves the pan. The step by step pics below depicts this masala. I add this masala to a dish wherever I prefer a smooth, and creamy gravy. e.g., Methi Paneer, and Bharwan Dum Aloo.
- Boiled Onion Tomato Masala: This recipe is perfect for people who don’t prefer a robust onion-garlic taste in their curries. Follow this link on how to make this masala — E.G., Black-eyed peas curry (lobia curry).
Benefits of having cooked Onion Tomato Masala (Indian gravy base recipe) on hand!
This onion tomato masala also referred to as Bhuna masala (curry paste) is the mother and a perfect base to most Indian curries. Having this curry paste ready in the refrigerator can make your life so much easier as it not only saves time but speeds up the cooking process too. With a little effort, you can make a variety of Indian recipes. Some popular ones are:
- Matar paneer,
- Aloo matar,
- Chicken recipes,
- Besan ke gatte,
- Lauki ke kofte,
- Palak Paneer ….the list is endless. The best part, in way less than 30 minutes you can have a delicious, authentic, tasty Indian meals on the table.
How to make onion tomato gravy for Indian recipes?
Just like most Indian recipes, this curry base also begins with fresh and wholesome ingredients that you typically keep on hand most of the times: onion, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes. Comes together in an hour with about 45 minutes of cooking, and a few extra minutes for peeling, washing, and chopping up the ingredients.
1) Roughly chop the onions. Peel garlic pods and ginger. Transfer these ingredients to a food processor/blender. Pulse or blend until pureed.
2) Add oil to a heavy bottomed pan and once its hot add cumin seeds. Stir in the pureed onion-ginger-garlic paste.
3) Cook at a medium flame until the color changes from light purple to light brown.
4) While the onion paste is cooking, wash and roughly chop tomatoes. Add it to a blender and blend until smooth and pureed.
5) After 20-25 minutes of cooking, onions will change its color from light purple to pale brown. Stir in the pureed tomatoes and mix to combine.
6) Cook for another 15-20 minutes until all the moisture has evaporated and oil starts to separate from the masala.
7)Switch off the gas and allow it to cool. Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator. It freezes beautifully. Follow this link to learn about how to store onion tomato masala.
Make this Onion tomato masala a staple in your house and share your feedback! If you have any questions or queries related to this recipe, send me an email, and I would be happy to answer them. 🙂
Thanks for reading.💕
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How to make onion tomato masala for Indian gravies?
- 6 big Onions peeled and rinsed
- 10 cloves Garlic peeled and rinsed
- 2 inch Ginger root peeled and rinsed
- 9-10 small Tomatoes peeled and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons Cumin Seeds
- 1/4 cup Oil
- Roughly chop the onions. Peel garlic pods and ginger. Transfer these ingredients to a food processor/blender. Pulse or blend until pureed.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds. When it starts to crackle
- Add onion, ginger, and garlic paste to the pan.
- Cook at a medium flame until the color changes from light purple to light brown. Do stir 3-4 minutes so that the paste doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. While the onion paste is cooking, wash and roughly chop tomatoes. Add it to a blender and blend until smooth and pureed. After 20-25 minutes of cooking, onions will change its color from light purple to pale brown.
- Stir in the pureed tomatoes and mix to combine.
- Cook for another 15-20 minutes until all the moisture has evaporated and oil starts to separate from the masala. Keep stirring in between (probably every 5 minutes or so).
- When you see a super-thin layer of oil bubbles popping at the edge of the masala, this means it is thoroughly cooked. At this point, the color of the masala will become deep red.
- Switch off the gas and allow it to cool. Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator. It freezes beautifully.
- If a recipe calls for onion, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes then use 1/4 -1/2 cup of cooked magic masala and voila… you are all set, follow rest of your recipe and your meal will be on the table in no time.