Basic curry sauce

Basic curry sauce

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(15 ratings)

Prep: 10 mins Cook: 30 mins


Makes 1 litre
Make batches of this versatile curry sauce

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freeze for up to 2 months
  • Vegetarian


  • kcal-
  • fat-
  • saturates-
  • carbs-
  • sugars-
  • fibre-
  • protein-
  • salt-
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  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500g onion, finely chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • large knob root ginger peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Madras curry paste
  • 400g can chopped tomato



    A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…


  1. Heat oil in a large shallow pan. Throw in onions and cook for 10 mins, or until soft. Tip in the garlic and ginger, then cook for a further 2 mins, watching the garlic doesn’t burn. Stir in curry paste and cook for another min.

  2. Now pour in 1 litre of cold water, the tomatoes and 1 tsp salt. Give it a good stir and bring to the boil. Cook the sauce over a high heat for about 10 mins, or until the liquid has reduced by a third. Will keep for 1 week in the fridge or freeze for up to 2 months.

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Comments, questions and tips

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santiago13's picture
31st Jul, 2018
I will try this one. always wanted to make my own.
7th Oct, 2016
A jar of curry paste? I suppose you can't get more basic than that. Looking forward to the basic tomato sauce recipe: one jar of Dolmio pasta sauce:)
9th Jun, 2016
I have no idea why people think making their own curry paste takes a long time or is difficult. Its not a snobbery thing either, its just better... Seriously, give it a try and see how easy it is. When its made, all you need to do is add it to tomato and onion and you have a very basic curry sauce.
7th Feb, 2016
Really quick, easy and healthy. Great to cook in advance and throw some rice and meat at it in the week(although my partner said he'd happily eat it as it is) I put half the amount of water in as I thought it was a hell of a lot and thought I could always add more if needed, but 1/2 was perfect! On the look out for some more like this....
2nd Sep, 2014
Interesting how those who prefer to make everything from scratch are denounced as food 'snobs'. Europe is full of what we'd regard as food snobs. As a result of being more demanding, the quality of produce in shops and markets is, usually, much higher (and far better value) than ours. Seems to me we need far more 'snobs' and far fewer touchy people who leap at any opportunity to feel offended. You're the boss of your own kitchen. If you prefer your own curry paste, that's fine. If you're busy and prefer to use a ready-made jar, that's also fine. But don't try to shout down, silence or intimidate those with different opinions.
23rd Feb, 2014
I tried this out and the basic sauce is very useful for other curries
9th Dec, 2013
Great recipe but I did blend half of the mixture to make it a bit less lumpy. Much better cooked the day before to let flavours develop.
11th Dec, 2012
is it okay to use bottled veg oil or have i got to squeeze my own rape ? and i suppose tinned toms are cheating as well!!! cookery snobs...i love em.haha
25th Apr, 2012
This is the second time I have used this recipe. This time however I used 400gr.carton of passati, Added extra tabs. Curry paste (Patak's Madras) plus a good sprinkling of Chilli Powder. Still took a good 45mins. to reduce and was still a bit runny and lumpy for my taste. Popped it into Blender and the result was a lovely smooth thick sauce. Absolutely delicious and enough left to freeze for another two good portions.
17th Mar, 2012
Lovely flavour, but does benefit from being reduced far more than the recipe method states. In reference to the proto-debate here, I love cooking from scratch, but honestly, some cooks are far too purist about using curry pastes. Why the heck not use them, if they give a decent result? Not all of us have the luxury of being able to afford or source all the different spices for curry pastes, nor the time to assemble them! There's a difference between cooking for day-to-day (much rather do this than rely on take-aways) and cooking for a dinner party or for personal indulgence so, snobs, lay off the curry pastes. I bet you don't make your own sausages, chorizo, or some of the other things it would probably be well within your remit to tackle. Oh wouldn't it be nice to be able to grind your own turmeric from a piece of dried root (what? you didn't dry it yourself? Shame on you.)


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