Restaurant Style Curry Sauce Recipe | The Curry Guy (2022)

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This curry house style base curry sauce will get you the results you’re looking for!

Visit the kitchen of any busy curry house and you are almost certain to see a large saucepan of curry sauce/gravy simmering away on the stove. This sauce is used as a base for most of the restaurant’s curries.

Each restaurant has their own special recipe but they are usually quite similar. The base sauce makes it possible for chefs to cook, plate and serve many different curries quickly and easily.

This smooth base curry sauce is just one of the things that give British Indian restaurant (BIR) style curries their distinctive flavour and texture that is loved by so many.

Large batches of curry sauce are made daily at Indian restaurants around the UK.

Why use a base sauce?

The answer to this question is simple. It’s the only way you will achieve curry house style curries at home.

Cooking curries in a more authentic Indian style works but the end dish is different. Curry house style curries are famous for their smooth texture which is achieved using the base curry sauce.

How was the base curry sauce developed?

The base sauce was developed over time. Chefs at inexpensive curry houses needed a way of cooking and serving their curries fast, while not losing out on flavour.

Cooking the curries in a more authentic and traditional way just wouldn’t be possible in most restaurants as it would be too labour intensive, overly time consuming and not cost effective.

By using this convenient sauce, which is made at restaurants fresh, daily, the chefs can cook a curry in about ten minutes.

That’s why you can expect to pay a lot less at a curry house than one of the more upmarket Indian restaurants.

What exactly is the base curry sauce?

I like to describe the base curry sauce as a fancy vegetable stock. It doesn’t have a lot of flavour though it does taste good.

Add some chicken, cumin, garam masala, a large heap or two of chili powder, mango chutney and a few other ingredients and you’ve got yourself a chicken madras.

Keep the chilli powder to a minimum and add some cream, block coconut, rose water and a dusting of cardamom powder and voila… a fragrant chicken korma.

Can I see what the difference is between a curry made with base curry sauce and one made without?

The best way to compare is to make the same curry twice. Make one with the base sauce and make the other using more traditional methods.

Below I have a couple of examples for you.

Restaurant Style Curry Sauce Recipe | The Curry Guy (2)

Chicken balti made without base sauce.

The chicken Balti above was made using authentic cooking methods. You can try the recipe here.

It was delicious but a lot different to one made with a base sauce, using what are otherwise the same ingredients.

Restaurant Style Curry Sauce Recipe | The Curry Guy (3)

Chicken Balti cooked with base sauce. This is by far my favourite version.

Above is an authentic balti using a base sauce. As you can see, the colour and texture of the sauce are different. I have to say, it tastes a lot better too.

How to store the base curry sauce

Although I do have smaller recipes for base curry sauce, I always recommend making this large batch, just like they do at most curry houses.

The finished base sauce can be stored in the fridge for at least three days and it freezes very well.

(Video) How To Make Curry House Style Base Sauce - British indian Restaurant Cuisine Recipe Tutorial

When you first blend the sauce. it will be quite thick. This is the best time to portion it out and freeze it.

To use in your curries, however, the sauce needs to be diluted with water or stock until it is quite thin like full fat milk or single cream.

Unlike water or stock, the base sauce cooks down and becomes thick quite quickly when used in a curry. There are so many vegetables in it.

What size containers should I freeze the base sauce in?

That’s really up to you and how you wish to use it.

Most of the recipe in my books and on this blog that call for base curry sauce serve 4. These recipe call for anything between 500ml (2 cups) and 700ml (2 3/4 cups) of base sauce. That’s the diluted sauce!

So if you want to have enough sauce to cook a curry for four at the ready, I recommend freezing the sauce, before diluting it in portions of 350ml (1 3/4 cups).

That said, I also have a lot of recipes for curry house portions of my recipes on this site. These call for between 250ml and 300ml of base sauce and serve 1 – 2 people.

If you are just going to be cooking for yourself or one other person, you could try them here.

What sort of containers shall I use to freeze the sauce in?

I often use air-tight plastic containers. They are handy and easy.

If you are limited on freezer space, try using freezer bags.

Add the sauce in the amount you wish to a freezer bag and seal it. Then flatten it out. You can then stack them in your freezer to use as needed.

Be sure to heat the base sauce up before using.

You need to defrost and then heat the base sauce up before using in your curries.

You don’t want to add cold base sauce to your curries while cooking as it will cool the pan down too much.

Just heat it up in a pan next to where you are cooking your curry and add as required.

The amount of base sauce I used in your recipe was more/less than called for. Why is this?

At busy curry houses, the chef doesn’t use exact measures of base sauce.

If the curry is looking too dry, he will add more base sauce.

If it is looking too saucy, he will just cook it down to his preferred consistency.

Please use the suggested measures of base sauce as a guide. They are not in stone as many different things such as the heat of your pan and how many ingredients are in the pan can affect the amount of sauce you will need.

Stay tuned for all the upcoming recipes. Together with this sauce you will be able to create curries better than you’ll find at most restaurants. I guarantee it!

Here are a few curry house style recipes you can use this sauce in now!

Try my Chicken Tikka Masala recipe from my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy’
Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Korma
Chicken Madras
Chicken Dhansak
Lamb Rogan Josh
Lamb Vindaloo
Chicken Chilli Garlic
Chicken Patia
Lamb Bhuna
And here’s a popular curry that requires no base sauce…

Butter Chicken

I have now filmed two videos for you to follow. These are slightly different recipes to the one below but they are the recipes featured in my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy’ which you can order online here.

Of course you could always use my small batch version, but if you really want to achieve that authentic curry house and/or balti house flavour, you’ve got to go large.

Note: In the photographs below you will find two photos demonstrating adding ghee to this recipe. These are photos from an earlier version of this recipe.

It is done at many restaurants but I no longer add it. It is tasty though. Simply melt 250ml ghee and add about a tsp turmeric as in the photos. Pour this over the sauce and stir it in. This is of course optional but many chefs do it.

Check out this photo and copy it. Your sauce will be perfect. Only use about half of the cabbage. Any cabbage will do.

Fry your onions over low heat in the hot oil for about 30 minutes.

(Video) How To Make Curry Base Sauce - (BIR) Restaurant Style Base Gravy

Your onions should look like this when you add the next ingredients.

The spices – cumin, coriander, garam masala, fenugreek and turmeric

Toss in the rest of your vegetables and stir into the onions.

Does it matter which order you add the ingredients?

Not really. I tend to add them as you see above so that I can fry the onions first. It is after all an onion base.

Other than that, just throw everything in the pot. That’s what they do at busy curry houses.

Now stir in the tomatoes

In go the spices except for the turmeric

It’s coming along just perfectly.

Add enough boiling water to cover and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.

Time to blend.

(Video) Curry Base Sauce - Live Cooking Demo - Base Gravy Recipe For All The Curry House Curry Recipes

After about three minutes of blending, the base curry sauce should look like this.

How smooth should I blend the sauce?

That depends on what you are using to blend it.

I usually use a hand held blender which takes about three to four minutes to blend until silky smooth. That’s what you want.

I have also use a Nutri-bullet which is a lot quicker but you have to transfer all that sauce to it. That can be a bit fussy. Go for a hand held blender if you have one.

In another pan, melt your ghee and then add the turmeric.

Add the turmeric and ghee to the sauce and stir in.

International & UK Orders

Restaurant Style Curry Sauce Recipe | The Curry Guy (18)

One thing I get asked often is whether or not you have to use a base curry sauce in your curry house style curries. The answer is yes if you want your curries to be just like you get them at your favourite restaurant.

That said, if you just want a good curry and don’t have time to whip up a batch of base curry sauce, you could do it the authentic Indian way. Finely chop two to three onions and fry them in about 3 tablespoons of oil.

Fry until the onions are soft and translucent. This should take about five minutes.

Then just follow any of the curry house style recipes on my website and add water, stock or chopped tomatoes to create a sauce. You really can’t go wrong. Taste as you go and your curry, though not just like those you find at curry houses will be delicious.

So are you ready to get started?

It takes some time to make but this base curry gravy is so convenient to have on hand!

How To Make Indian Restaurant Curry Sauce

Restaurant Style Curry Sauce Recipe | The Curry Guy (20)

(Video) How To Make Light Base Curry Sauce - Curry House Style Base Gravy without all the fat

Take some time to make this base curry sauce. Once it's made and you have it on hand, you can whip up all your favourite curry house style curries in minutes! From the mildest korma to the spiciest phaal, this is the base you need to make them just like you get at Indian restaurants.

Prep Time20 minutes

Cook Time1 hour

Total Time1 hour 20 minutes


  • 10 large cooking onions – finely sliced
  • 250ml vegetable oil
  • 9 tablespoons garlic/ginger paste (equal amounts garlic and ginger blended into a paste with a little water.)
  • 1 carrot - peeled and chopped
  • ¼ head of cabbage - chopped
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper) - diced
  • 1 green capsicum (bell pepper) - diced
  • water
  • 400ml (14 US fluid ounces ) chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I usually leave this out and simply add it to the final dish)


  1. Pour the oil into a large heavy bottomed saucepan and heat over medium high heat until bubbling.
  2. Throw in the sliced onions and fry, stirring regularly for about 20 minutes until the onions are soft, lightly browned and translucent.
  3. Add the capsicums (bell peppers), carrot and cabbage and stir to combine.
  4. Fry for a further five minutes and then add the ginger and garlic purees and the all of the spices except for the turmeric.
  5. Now add the tomatoes and just enough water (about 2 cups/ 500ml) to cover the vegetables and simmer for about half an hour.
  6. After 30 minutes, remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  7. Scoop the mixture in batches into a blender and blend until silky smooth. I usually do this for about three minutes per batch. If you have a hand held blender, this stage will be much easier.
  8. Once your sauce is smooth, melt the ghee in a frying pan. Add the turmeric powder to the ghee. It will darken as it cooks. You want to brown it for about 30 seconds being careful not to burn the turmeric.
  9. Now add the turmeric/ghee mixture to the sauce and bring to a simmer again.
  10. Once it is bubbling away, turn down the heat and simmer for a further 20 to 30 minutes
  11. Use immediately or store in the fridge for up to three days or freeze in 750ml (3 cups) portions for up to three months.


This base sauce freezes really well. It is great to have on hand for that last minute curry craving.

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How do you make curry taste like a restaurant? ›

A couple of suggestions that seem to work for me:
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  2. Blend onions in a food processor until smooth(ish). ...
  3. Use lemon juice to taste. ...
  4. In addition to 2, and depending on the type of curry you are making fry chopped onions for a long time, until they are golden brown.

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Meet Hing: The Secret-Weapon Spice Of Indian Cuisine : The Salt Uncooked, the Indian spice hing may smell of sulfur and onions to some. But add a dash to your food, and magical things happen.

What is the secret to a good curry? ›

Sizzle your spice:

Kick off your curry by heating whole spices in hot oil to unleash their flavour. Choose from cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and seeds for the perfect base to your dish. Fresh spices are the best choice and will keep for longer in the freezer.

How do you make a thick curry sauce? ›

Mix cornstarch, tapioca starch, or arrowroot with cold water or a cup of liquid from the curry sauce to make a slurry. Add this at the end of the cooking process—the sauce should thicken as soon as it returns to a boil.

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Simple suggestions for restaurant good quality curries:
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  2. Fry your spices but don't burn them. ...
  3. Use good quality spices. ...
  4. Seasoning. ...
  5. Use fatty yoghurt (greek style works) in curries to make them richer. ...
  6. Patience. ...
  7. Use a neutral vegetable oil. ...
  8. Experiment.
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What ingredient gives curry its flavor? ›

Curry powder has a unique flavor due to the combination of both savory and sweet spices. Savory spices like cumin, turmeric, and bay leaf give the curry a deep, earthy flavor while sweet spices, like cinnamon and clove, add brightness and pep. The level of heat is determined by the type and amount of pepper used.

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The three sauces at Indian restaurants most commonly served are a green sauce, brown sauce and a red sauce. In order these are, mint cilantro chutney, tamarind chutney and garlic chutney. They cover the notes of a savory chutney, a sweet/sour chutney and a spicy chutney.

What is the most important ingredient in curry? ›

The most common ingredient in curry dishes is garlic. Onion, cilantro, tomatoes, vegetable oil, fresh ginger root, white sugar, coconut milk and chicken stock are also common ingredients in curry recipes. For herbs and spices, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne pepper are popular.

What are the 7 main Indian spices? ›

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  • Coriander. ...
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How do you get the most flavor out of curry? ›

Kick off your curry by heating whole spices in hot oil to unleash their flavour. Choose from cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and seeds for the perfect base to your dish. Fresh spices are the best choice and will keep for longer in the freezer.

How do you add depth to a curry? ›

Slow-cooking your curry can make all the difference. Since onions form the base of most curries, getting them right is crucial. Anjum Anand suggests cooking them slowly, until soft, then increasing the heat to colour them. 'The deeper their colour, the more flavour,' says.

What can I add to curry to make sauce? ›

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Why is my curry so watery? ›

Adding too much liquid

Always add less liquid than what's needed and check the consistency before you add more. Adding too much water or cooking stock will make your curries runny.

How long should you simmer curry? ›

Add some curry spice paste and gently cook for a few minutes. This allows the spices to release all their • wonderful flavours and aromas. Next add your meat or vegetables and cook until sealed. Finally add some water and leave to simmer for 15-30 mins depending on the recipe.

How do restaurants make curry so creamy? ›

The actual sweetness and creaminess of such curries meanwhile, usually comes from fried onions and either cashews and/or dairy products. Instead of (or in addition to) onion, ground coconut may be used. White poppy seeds and/or watermelon seeds are also used in some creamy sauces.

What makes curry taste soapy? ›

As many as one in five people says that coriander has a soapy taste. This is likely to be due to a super-sensitivity to chemicals called aldehydes, which are present in coriander and are also used to perfume soaps and detergents.

How is Indian curry so thick? ›

Add Lentils Or Legume Puree

A lot of Indian curries use a small amount of lentils – around 1 or 2 tablespoons – as these serve to thicken and bulk up the dish. What is this? As they cook, lentils swell, soften, and then breakdown, soaking up the excess liquid in sauces.

What spice enhances curry? ›

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What is the brown sauce at Indian restaurants? ›

Imli (Tamarind) Chutney: Tangy, sweet, smooth, and reddish brown, this is the kind of chutney that people either love or hate, due to the very sour yet incredibly sweet flavor sensation that comes with the territory when eating tamarind.

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Raita is a basic Indian yogurt-based condiment that's served as a palate-cleanser with spicy or heavy foods. It's super simple to make and has so many uses!

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What spices do Indian restaurants use? ›

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What spice makes Indian food spicy? ›

Much of the heat in hot Indian or Indian-style curries comes from the use of hot peppers, and the powdered chili is one of the most convenient forms. Unlike other forms of hot pepper where the heat can vary, powdered chili peppers have a consistent heat level that gets distributed evenly in the dish.

Why does my curry not taste like curry? ›

Stop Adding Water – You might think your curry looks too thick but adding water will only dilute the flavour. You might need to loosen the sauce a little but only add a splash of water at a time. Once it's in, you can't take it back out!

Does curry taste better the longer you cook it? ›

A report from BBC Science Focus says that when your curry (or for that matter, stew or spaghetti bolognaise) is sitting on the shelf in your fridge, it's getting more flavoursome by the minute even though it's no longer on the stove, because the ingredients are still marinating and breaking down like they would in a ...

Why does curry always taste better the next day? ›

Spence says that, if you leave a curry in the fridge overnight, “flavours disperse more evenly. Though a curry may have as many as 20 or 30 different spices, the idea is they should meld together so that no singular element is identifiable in the mix.”

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  • Cambodia. ...
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Kang Keaw Wan Kai (sweet green curry with chicken) is a great starting point for beginners. Red curry is usually made from dried red chiles, along with spices like coriander, cumin, and turmeric. It's very versatile and can include a wide range of proteins and vegetables.

Which curry has the most sauce? ›

Madras. A madras should be a hot and spicy curry in a thick tomato based sauce. Normally served with plenty of sauce and a meat of your choice this was for a long time the go to hot curry for British restaurants. It will have plenty of chilli powder in it and will be highly spiced.

Do you cook curry covered or uncovered? ›

All the recipe videos that I see recommend cooking your curry with a lid on after adding water to it. There's obviously gonna be more heat trapped in a covered pan, and I'm guessing moisture loss would happen at a slower rate.

Should curry simmer covered or uncovered? ›

Although the cover can shorten the cooking time, but the water can not evaporate, so that the curry as water as thin. In addition, the smell of meat will remain in the curry. So boiled curry, it is recommended to open the lid to cook.

Does curry thicken with lid on or off? ›

When to Keep the Lid Off. Cooking a soup, stew, or sauce uncovered allows water to evaporate, so if your goal is to reduce a sauce or thicken a soup, skip the lid. The longer you cook your dish, the more water that will evaporate and the thicker the liquid becomes—that means the flavors become more concentrated, too.

How do you make curry sauce richer? ›

There are so many things you can do to improve this; in no particular order:
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  4. Use lemon or lime juice. ...
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What is British style curry? ›

Curries in Britain are widely described using Indian terms, such as korma for a mild sauce with almond and coconut, Madras for a hot, slightly sour sauce, and pasanda for a mild sauce with cream and coconut milk.

How do you make Jamie Oliver curry sauce? ›

Pour in 2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes, crumble in 1 organic chicken stock cube and add 300ml of boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in 2 x 400g tins of light coconut milk and simmer for a final 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, then season to perfection. Now jazz it up however you like.

Can you over simmer a curry? ›

But even if you are not an expert, curry is quite forgiving, so if you over cook a little, your curry will still taste quite good, if not perfect!

Does coconut milk thicken curry? ›

Coconut Milk/ Cream

Coconut is a great ingredient used for thickening curries. It can be used in any form - milk, cream or grated. This method is most suited for Thai, South Indian and other Asian curries. It not only makes your curry flavorful, but also makes the curry creamier.

Will plain flour thicken a curry? ›

Use flour and cooking fat.

Two tablespoons of flour (30 mL) mixed with two tablespoons (30 mL) of a cooking fat like butter can thicken curry. Remove a cup of curry (240 mL) and mix it with your flour and cooking fat mixture. Return the curry to the main pot and mix it in to thicken your curry.

Do you add water when cooking curry? ›

The ideal way to make the curry is to have finely sliced or chopped onions that will ensure a thick and rich curry. In case you want a thinner curry, you could always add some water to the masala you prepare.

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Indian food is always hailed for its colorful curries and complex flavors. With its use of cumin, tamarind, pepper, and other powerful spicy ingredients ensuing taste combinations unlike anything found around the globe.

What to add to curry powder to make it taste better? ›

Curry powder works best when it's mixed with other flavorful spices and foods so that it's not the main flavor. Use curry powder with onions and garlic for a great flavor. Other spices often used with curry powder include ginger, coriander, cumin, and crushed red pepper flakes.

What is the best tasting curry? ›

The best curries in India that you must try at least once in your life
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  • Shukto, West Bengal. ...
  • Pork Vindaloo, Goa.
18 Nov 2021

What are the 3 sauces at Indian restaurants? ›

The three sauces at Indian restaurants most commonly served are a green sauce, brown sauce and a red sauce. In order these are, mint cilantro chutney, tamarind chutney and garlic chutney. They cover the notes of a savory chutney, a sweet/sour chutney and a spicy chutney.

Do Indian restaurants add sugar to curry? ›

There is nothing inauthentic about using sugar in an Indian dish, even a savory one. For example, Gujarati cooks often add raw sugar (jaggery) to daal and curries. Quoth Wikipedia: "It is common to add a little sugar or jaggery to some of the sabzi/shaak and daal.

What is the most authentic Indian dish? ›

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  • 2) Chaat. ...
  • 3) Dal makhani. ...
  • 4) Vada pav. ...
  • 5) Stuffed paratha. ...
  • 6) Dhokla. ...
  • 7) Barfi. ...
  • 8) Pani puri.

Why does my Indian food not taste like restaurant? ›

Restaurants make food differently than we do at home. They use way more fat (butter, ghee, cream), spices and sometimes nuts. Also, they use the tandoor, which we normally don't have at home. An electric tandoor isn't the same thing.

How can I make my curry sauce better? ›

Add garlic only for the last minute or so of frying before adding masala and wet ingredients. Don't put too much coconut milk in add a spoon at a time and taste as you go, always finish with a squeeze of lime (or some tamarind) and some fresh coriander.

Why does my curry have no flavour? ›

Stop Adding Water – You might think your curry looks too thick but adding water will only dilute the flavour. You might need to loosen the sauce a little but only add a splash of water at a time. Once it's in, you can't take it back out!

What is the most popular curry sauce? ›

If there's one dish that might be considered “universal” to all Indian restaurants, tikka masala is arguably it. The tikka element is the chicken or other meats cooked in a tandoor on a skewer, while the masala is the creamy sauce that smothers it.


1. How To Make an Authentic Chicken Balti - (BIR) British Curry House Recipe
(The Curry Guy Page - Dan Toombs Recipes and Travel)
2. How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala Restaurant Style - BIR Curry at its Best! चिकन टिक्का मसाला
(The Curry Guy Page - Dan Toombs Recipes and Travel)
3. How To Make The Best Onion Bhajis - (BIR) Curry House Style
(The Curry Guy Page - Dan Toombs Recipes and Travel)
4. Keema Curry Restaurant Style - Live Cooking Demo
(The Curry Guy Page - Dan Toombs Recipes and Travel)
5. Chicken Chilli Garlic Curry- Livestream Demo
(The Curry Guy Page - Dan Toombs Recipes and Travel)
6. Lamb Madras Curry - Livestream Demo
(The Curry Guy Page - Dan Toombs Recipes and Travel)

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