This is a quick ready to use basic Indian curry paste recipe that is perfect for quick every day Indian curry recipes or any vegan curry recipes. This Indian red curry paste is the real magic wand for all busy people.
This Indian curry paste is a must-have in your refrigerator if you are a fan of Indian curry recipes and make a lot of them in your everyday cooking. This curry paste is cooked in North Indian style.
When you are in a hurry and can’t spend even 30 minutes to make your main course, here is the solution. This ready to use basic Indian curry paste would save 20 minutes straight from your total cook time.
This recipe has come from my mom’s kitchen. My mom when she enters the kitchen she loves to do things as quickly as possible and without any compromise on the taste of food. She was really really quick. And as a kid, I always wondered how!!
I know I may not match her speed till now also. But then I also learned many such tricks to reduce the cooking time. I’m sure many of us must have learned such skills from our mother.
This curry paste takes 15 – 20 minutes to make. And it can be stored in an airtight container for 12 – 15 days in the refrigerator. So plan and make this red curry paste on the weekend. Then the rest of the weekdays you may use the same and save 15 – 20 minutes in your busy days or tiring weeknight dinners.
In our Indian kitchen, curry is one of the common main course items. So I keep this basic curry paste handy in my kitchen all the time. Depending on how often you are going to use this curry paste, make your batch of our basic Indian curry paste.
Basic Curry Recipe Using This Indian Curry Paste
Using this curry paste in a regular Indian curry recipe, the basic steps are as follows:
- Heat oil in pan/ kadhai/ cooker/ instant pot.
- Add cumin seeds and let crackle.
- Add 2 – 4 tbsp of ready to use curry paste.
- Saute for a minute on low flame.
- No need to add any extra spices.
- Add vegetables (raw/ steamed/ shallow fried)/ paneer/ mushroom, etc.
- Adjust salt. (remember we have added salt in curry paste also)
- Saute for 2 minutes in medium to high flame.
- Add hot water.
- Mix well & let it simmer and get cooked.
- Add garam masala, dry mango powder (amchur, if required).
- Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.
This way it reduces the cooking time to 15 – 20 minutes and if you have par-boiled vegetables in your fridge then that is an added advantage. If you are making soya, paneer or mushroom then if can finish your cooking in hardly 5 – 8 minutes.
Few quick recipes on blog that you would love to try using this quick method and our basic curry paste
- Vegan Cauliflower Potato Curry
- Soya Potato curry
- Achari Baingan (pickle spiced aubergine)
- Bharwa Karela (Achari) (stuffed bitter gourd)
- Bhindi Do Pyaza
- Jackfruit Curry
- Restaurant Style Dum Aloo
- Lauki Kofta/ Vegan Meatballs in Spicy Red Curry
- Curried Lentils
- Curried Cauliflower Soup
You name is matar paneer, aloo matar or mushroom curry recipes, etc, etc. The list is never ending in fact 🙂
Read my Collection of 30 Indian Curry Recipes from the recipe collections section.
Variations from this basic curry paste
Well, this is not only used for Indian curries. You can use this as a base in many curried soup recipes, Thai recipes, restaurant-style curry recipes, etc.. This is a simple base for many great dishes.
- Chole/ chana masala (vegan chickpeas curry) – Add whole spices, cook till fragrant or for a minute. Add curry paste and chole masala. Give it a nice stir. Dilute with little water and simmer for a minute. Add boiled chickpeas and simmer on low flame for 5 minutes.
- For other gravies: you may add regular curry powder or even that is not required. Just add garam masala after its cooked completely.
- For biriyani add biriyani masala along with whole spices (Bay leaf + Cinnamon Stick, Star anise, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, black cardamom).
- Instant Veg Biryani: Hereafter adding oil, I do saute all the whole spices and roast. Then I add the curry paste and tomato puree. Saute and add 1/2 cup curd and 1 – 2 tsp biryani masala. Then add vegetables and little water and let it simmer for a few minutes. Add rice and water and pressure cook or use instant pot to cook.
- Indian Achari Masala (Pickle Spiced): Combine this basic curry paste + pickle spice mix.
- Jackfruit Curry/ Rajma Masala/ Dal Makhni: Add curry paste + whole spices.
This curry paste is a simple one with basic Indian spices. I normally don’t add whole spices to this paste. But you may add cloves powder, cinnamon powder, black pepper powder while cooking the curry paste. I prefer to add it fresh to get that aroma of these spices in curry. While cooking vegetables like jackfruit for jackfruit curry, I prefer adding whole spices to the curry.
Another point I would like to clarify here. I have heard you should not grind whole spices along with onion tomato paste as they are supposed to be added in the end to keep the fragrance intact. But I make a fresh paste of onion tomato and whole spices together for making jackfruit curry/ rajma masala and my dal makhani. And trust me it’s equally fragrant and delicious even if I blend the whole spices along with onion paste.
Step-by-step instructions to make basic Indian curry paste
This is a quick sauteed mix of spices that is used as a base of many curries and other recipes. You can make this curry paste with tomatoes or without tomato puree. Adding tomatoes will decrease the cell life of the paste. If made without tomatoes, you can store this for up to 2 months. Whereas with tomato paste, it will be good up to 8 – 10 days.
Step 1 – Clean and chop onion, ginger, garlic, chilies, tomatoes into medium-sized pieces.
Step 2 – Blend onion, ginger, garlic, and green chilies into coarse to a fine paste. Similarly, blend tomatoes to a fine paste or puree.
Step 3 – Heat oil/ clarified butter in a pan. Add onion, ginger garlic chilies paste. Saute on medium to low flame till it’s cooked and translucent. Add tomato paste and saute for another 3 – 5 minutes. Cover with a lid and stir occasionally.
Step 4 – Now when it starts releasing oil on the sides, add ground spices to the onion tomato paste. Add little salt as well. Now cook until all water content is reduced and the paste becomes thicker.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
What is Indian Curry Paste?
Curry paste is generally a mixture of onion, ginger, garlic, and other ground spices that are cooked in one pot and used in other curry preparations. Indian curry paste has typical flavors of ginger, garlic, ground cumin, turmeric, red chilies, coriander in it.
What is the difference between Indian red curry paste and Thai red curry paste?
Vegetarian Thai red curry paste is different in terms of spices and flavors. Thai curry has spices and ingredients like galangal (Thai ginger), Thai red chilies, kefir lime, lemongrass, and some more like that which are not used in Indian red curry paste. So the flavors of the curries are also different.
What is the difference between curry powder and curry paste?
Curry powder is a mix of ground spices that may or may not have ground whole spices. Whereas curry paste is ready to use paste that is prepared with fresh ingredients like onion, tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, garlic, and other ground spices. This is stored for future use to save cooking time. You can prepare fresh curry paste every time or use stored curry paste.
How to store this paste?
You can refrigerate the paste in an airtight bottle. Add an extra layer of oil above it for a better and longer life. However, you can freeze this as well. You can also freeze this in ice cubes or in sealable plastic bags (source). So this is freezer friendly too and helps in meal prep.
Basic Indian Curry Paste
- 5 – 7 tbsp Oil
- 5 Onion large, diced
- 2 inch Ginger diced
- 10 – 12 Garlic
- 3 – 4 Green Chillies
- 4 Dried Red Chilli (optional)
- 3 large Tomatoes (optional)
- Dice and blend onion, ginger, ginger, chillies to a fine paste.
- Heat oil in a pan. Once oil is hot add the onion paste to it. Mix well and saute.
- Saute till onion gets cooked and leaves oil on surface.
- Add coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, black pepper powder, salt.
- Stir and mix them well.
- Add 1/4 cup water and cook on low flame.
- Cook till it leaves oil from surroundings.
- Gradually it will be thicker.
- Keep on stirring periodically.
- Turn off the gas and let it cool completely.
- Then transfer to an air tight container and store in refrigerator.
Using Tomato Puree
- Blend tomatoes to puree.
- Steps will be same as point 6 above.
- Once mix of onion paste and ground spices are cooked, add tomato puree.
- Give it a nice stir.
- Cook again till the mixture becomes thick and leaves oils on sides.
- If required cover with a lid and cook on medium to high heat.
- When it's cooked and thick, turn off heat.
- Cool completely and store in airtight jar.
- You can also skip adding tomato puree to this curry paste for long life. Without tomato puree, it can be stored for 2 months. You can freeze this also.
- Curry paste with tomato puree stays fresh till 8 – 10 days. Whereas curry paste without tomato can be stored for 2 months in refrigerator.
- Use oil generously. It will help in better life of stored curry paste.
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