Simplify your dinner routine with this easy-to-make Instant Pot Boiled Onion Tomato Masala For Indian Curries. This versatile, all-purpose masala/sauce forms the base to a variety of delicious North-Indian dishes ranging from curries to dals. As a bonus, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and freezer-friendly!
Between busy schedules and hectic routines, dinner time struggle is real. I can so relate to it. Amidst all the chaos, at times, the thought of making dinner is quite overwhelming and exhausting. That’s where this Instant Pot boiled onion tomato masala/sauce becomes a lifesaver.
Having this onion tomato masala/sauce ready in the refrigerator can make your life so much easier as it’s:
- the perfect foundation to many Indian curries,
- blends well with veg or non-veg curries,
- with a little effort, it’s possible to eat authentic, tasty Indian meals every day and,
- the best part: you can make a lot of recipes in less than 30 minutes.
What is a boiled Onion Tomato Masala?
Onion-tomato masala/sauce is an integral part of North Indian cooking. The traditional and authentic onion-tomato masala also referred to as Bhuna Masala is cooked with raw onions, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes until the deep red color is attained. But the one that I am sharing with you is different. So what’s the difference between the two?
The recipe for masala/sauce that I am sharing is a thick blend of boiled onion, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes. Why boil the ingredients?
Uncooked onion and garlic have a powerful odor and a strong smell that may leave one feeling uncomfortable and at times bloated after meals.
Therefore, to mitigate the taste of raw onion and garlic, I prefer to boil all the ingredients together before adding them to the dish.
This recipe is perfect for people who don’t prefer a robust onion-garlic taste in their curries.
Why should I cook boiled onion tomato masala in the Instant Pot?
Here’s my answer: it’s the convenience and shorter cooking time. Plus, I don’t have to babysit a pot on the cooktop and worry about the boil-overs. Just dump everything in the insert, set the timer and let the Instant Pot do its job. When the pot beeps, come back with an immersion blender and blend the ingredients until smooth.
How to make boiled onion tomato masala in the Instant Pot?
It’s a deliciously simple masala/sauce to make at home using the fresh produce that you most likely already have in your pantry or fridge.
- Start by adding oil to the insert. As it starts to heat up, add cardamom and bay leaf.
- Roughly slice the onions and add them to the insert.
- Add garlic and ginger to the insert too.
- Roughly chop the tomatoes and add it to the insert.
- Pour in water and seal the pot.
- Once the Instant Pot beeps, blend the cooked ingredients with an immersion blender until smooth.
- Allow the sauce/masala to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the oil starts to separate.
- I prefer to cook this masala/sauce without the spices. This way I can customize and add spices according to the recipe.
- But feel free to make this masala all the more flavorful by adding spices like coriander powder, red chili powder or cayenne, turmeric, cumin powder, and of course salt.
- Allow the spices to simmer in the sauce for another 5-8 minutes and you will end up with a very fragrant sauce ready to be used in any Indian curry.
How to use this boiled onion tomato masala in Indian curries?
This aromatic sauce is an excellent vehicle for many ingredients like paneer, vegetables, meats, dals, and seafood and by preparing it in advance, you can significantly reduce the cooking time for many Indian recipes.
Wherever the recipe calls for sauteing the onions along with ginger-garlic paste and add tomato puree, you can substitute this masala for the above ingredients. This masala will make life so much easier, no more sauteing or chopping of ingredients required. For example:
For Instant Pot Matar Paneer: Just toss 1/2 cup of masala along with yogurt and dry spices. Mix to combine. Follow the recipe from step: 8 – add peas, water, and paneer. Pressure cook as directed.
Instant Pot Boiled Onion Tomato Masala For Indian Curries
- Press the saute button on the instant pot. Once it displays hot, add oil, whole black cardamom, and bay leaf to it. Saute for 30 seconds. These whole spices add a depth of flavor to this masala. (Step by step pics above in the main post)
- Stir in the sliced onions along with ginger and garlic.
- Add the chopped tomatoes. Pour in the water and mix to combine.
- Close the lid and seal the pot. Cancel the ‘Saute‘ mode and press the ‘Manual or Pressure Cook‘ button. Cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 10 minutes. Make sure that the pressure release valve is in place, and is set to the Sealing position.
- After the Instant Pot beeps, allow the steam to release naturally (NPR). After the pin drops, carefully open the lid.
- Remove the whole spices: black cardamom, and bay leaf from the insert. With an immersion blender, blend the cooked ingredients until smooth.
- Press the saute button on the Instant Pot and simmer the pureed masala for 10-15 minutes or until the oil separates. Keep stirring occasionally. (Step by step pics above in the main post)
- Let the onion tomato masala cool completely. Transfer it to a canned jar or airtight container and refrigerate. Stays well for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
- Use the masala as directed in your recipes.