Like I have said before 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 which can be used to make almost all kinds of Indian curries. This is a tomato based curry paste recipe which you can also use to make Mughlai curries by adding some extra ingredients. You can add curry leaves too and a few more ingredients and make a South Indian curry with this too.
To make an Indian curry paste you need two kinds of masala or mix. One is a wet mix and the other is dry mix. Wet mix is made of fresh ingredients from your pantry which you blend together to make a paste and then later cook with the dry ingredients. The four main ingredients for the wet mix are onions, garlic, ginger and chilis. You can use thai green chili, jalapeno peppers, any other kind of hot peppers or even dried red chili peppers all you want is some heat. If you don’t want it hot you can completely omit this ingredient.
Now the dry spices used here are basically the spices used to make a garam masala powder. Again many cooks use a few extra spices and some might use a few lesser spices for their garam masala, this is how my family does it. The spices I use to make a garam masala powder are black cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander seeds, cloves, black pepper and bay leaves. Grind all the spices mentioned into a powder and mix it with the wet mix and then cook together. Then finally tomato puree or diced tomatoes are added and cooked until it looses all its water.
Now before getting to the recipe I have to tell you about my friend Joy of Joylicious and this exciting project that has been working on. She is one of the most talented food photographers/bloggers I have come across and is one heck of a girl! Joy and her friends have been working hard at developing a new cooking show geared towards singles and couples. Main goal of this show would be to encourage people to get back in the kitchen and equip them with the confidence and skills to become an efficient home chef. You can learn more about the show by clicking on this link and watching the kickstarter. Joy is trying to raise some money that would help her and her friends get the episodes to gear. So I’d love for you to click on the link, checkout what Joy wants to say and maybe help her spread the word or raise some money.
Alright and now lets come back to the Curry Paste recipe. Here’s my recipe for Indian Curry Paste, do you care to share yours?
Ingredients:- (Makes approx. 1.5 cups of curry 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
1/2 Cinnamon stick
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
3 tbsp coriander seeds (you can use 2/2.5 tbsp coriander powder if you don’t have seeds)
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp ghee (optional)
Salt to taste
1 cup diced tomato
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.
Grind together all the dry ingredients in a spice or coffee grinder. Set aside.
Heat oil in a thick bottom pan, add wet mix.
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.
Cook until the paste starts changing color and gets golden brown in color.
Add ghee. Very soon oil will start to separate.
Add diced tomato. First the tomatoes begin to melt then slowly all the liquid will evaporate. Cook until the mixture has no liquid left.
Now add dry ingredients. Mix everything well together.
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.