Indian Curry Paste

This is a basic tomato based curry paste recipe that is the base of almost all Indian curries.
By Prerna Singh

Every Indian household has its own recipe for any Indian dish and same goes with the curry paste. I come from the northern part of India where curry paste is mostly tomato based. In South Indian kitchens use of curry leaves, coconut, some kind of lentil or tamarind will be prominent. Mughlai cuisine is comprised of whole or ground spices and an addition of cream or a dairy product to make the sauce rich and creamy. Then what you are going to use the curry paste for also makes a difference.

If you are going to add meat to your curry, making a rice dish like biryani or tahiri or using it to make a vegetable curry. There are several variations and several ingredients that you can add or remove but I do not want to confuse you with all that. Lets take it a little slow and today talk about the basic Indian Curry Paste recipe.

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Indian Curry Paste
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This is a basic tomato based curry paste recipe that is the base of almost all Indian curries. With a slight variation here and there you can make hundreds of curries using this basic curry paste. It can be made in bulk and can be stored for weeks. No more going to the stores and buying jarred month old curry paste that cost you a fortune and don't taste half as goodd!
Recipe Type: Basics of Cooking
  • Makes approx. 1.5 cups of curry paste)
  • wet paste)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 green chilis (or any chili pepper of your choice)
  • dry spice powder)- Only half of it will be used in this recipe for curry paste. You can store the rest in an air tight container for later.
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp peppercorn
  • 3-4 black cardamom
  • ½ Cinnamon stick
  • ½ tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds (you can use 2/2.5 tbsp coriander powder if you don't have seeds)
  • other ingredients:
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp ghee (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  1. Grind together ingredients for the wet mix in a food processor or blender/grinder. Use about 3-4 tbsp of water if necessary for the blades to rotate. Set aside.
  2. Grind together all the dry ingredients in a spice or coffee grinder. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a thick bottom pan, add wet mix.
  4. Cook it on medium high heat until all the water has evaporated. Once the paste starts getting thicker reduce the heat to medium low, add salt and turmeric.
  5. Cook until the paste starts changing color and gets golden brown in color.
  6. Add ghee. Very soon oil will start to separate.
  7. Add diced tomato. First the tomatoes begin to melt then slowly all the liquid will evaporate. Cook until the mixture has no liquid left.
  8. Now add dry ingredients. Mix everything well together.
  9. Your curry paste is ready.
Now you can add vegetables if you are making a vegetable curry. Add browned, baked, stir fried or deep fried meat to make a meat curry. You can also add it to rice with a few vegetables and make a tahiri (spicy rice pilaf) This curry paste can be stored in a refrigerator for weeks. All you have to do is let the paste cool down completely and then transfer it to an air tight container and freeze.


Prerna Singh

Prerna Singh

Prerna is a food writer and photographer who contributes to sites like Menuism and WFAEeats (NPR Charlotte). With a goal of making Indian cuisine approachable, she created Indian Simmer, a blog nominated for 2011 Best Food Blogs by Saveur Magazine.

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  1. I’ve been looking at different recipes for curry past or base. I like the simplicity of your blend. I’d like to make it but I’m confused by something in the ingredient list.

    Under the Ingredients you list the following…

    dry spice powder)- Only half of it will be used in this recipe for curry paste. You can store the rest in an air tight container for later.

    I was wondering what the dry spice is and how much you use? It looks like something is missing from the list.


  2. Doug, if you look carefully at the ingredients list you will see that it has two sections, a ‘wet paste’ section and a ‘dry spice’ section. The ‘wet paste’ is made using onions, garlic, chillies and ginger blended with water to make a wet paste. The ‘dry spices’ are bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, cardoman, cinnamon stick, cumin and coriander seeds. These dry ingrediants are ground to a powder, then added dry.

    I have about 6L of homemade tomato concentrate that I am about to convert into this recipe, so that should be good for about ten curries or so. I just preserve it in recycled jam jars with those pop down lids. Keeps forever. Yum


  3. Looks smashing.
    What would you add to this paste to increase the amount of sauce in the mix and approximately how much of it?
    How many servings would that yield?

  4. I just made this and it turned out great! Thank you. I didn’t have cardamom, so I added nutmeg and an extra measure of cinnamon.

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