Indian Curry Paste Recipe: How to Make Curry Paste at Home

Indian Curry Paste
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See 10 amazing curries you can make from this curry paste

This Indian Curry Paste recipe is the base of any Indian curry. This is a master Curry Recipe that can be used to make anything from Chicken Curry to Chana Masala.

Curry Paste in a serving bowl

Saturday was fun and interesting. It was Abhishek’s birthday but he had to go to school so he left early leaving me and the little monster with enough time to plan something nice for him. I took this as a good opportunity to go meet a few friends of mine. pent a lovely afternoon with them talking about food, food blogging and the rest of the world while watching the kids play.

That was so fun, I almost forgot that there is a party at my house in the evening and a birthday cake needs to be made. There needs to be a whole post to tell you the story about that birthday and the birthday cake which probably I will do later! But while deciding his birthday menu I realized one thing. One of the most common masala mixture (spice mix) that is used in Indian curries is a curry paste and I never shared a post on it. So I thought before sharing what I cooked for his birthday I should share this basic Indian curry recipe for curry paste whose variation is present in almost all Indian curries.

Ingredients for an Indian Curry Paste

What is an Indian Curry Paste made of:

But I feel like it is my duty to tell you that every Indian household has its own recipe for any Indian dish and the same goes with a 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 the addition of cream or a dairy product to make the sauce rich and creamy.

How to Make Indian Curry Paste

Let’s take it a little slow and focus on the basics first and start with a basic Indian Curry Paste. It can be used to make almost all kinds of Indian curries. So you start with this tomato-based curry paste recipe as the base and then add layers to it based on what you want to achieve. Add a rich cream and/or nut paste for mughlai curries or curry leaves, coconut or maybe some mustard seeds to give it a more south Indian flare.

To create an authentic Indian curry paste, blend a harmonious mix of wet and dry masalas. The wet blend, crafted from pantry essentials like onions, garlic, ginger, and chilis, infuses vibrant flavors into your dishes, while the dry mix complements with aromatic depth and complexity.

Experiment with various chili peppers like Thai green chilis, jalapenos, or dried red chilis to tailor the heat level to your liking, or omit them altogether for a milder yet still richly flavorful curry base.

Dry Masalas for Indian Curry Paste

Spices used to make an Indian Curry paste:

The foundation of Indian curry paste lies in the aromatic blend of dry spices akin to garam masala powder, a medley often personalized by each cook’s unique touch. In my family’s rendition, this mix features black cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander seeds, cloves, black pepper, and bay leaves ground into a fragrant powder, melding seamlessly with the wet masala for a symphony of flavors.

After incorporating the garam masala powder into the wet mix, the addition of tomato puree or diced tomatoes serves as the final flourish, simmering until the sauce reaches a harmonious consistency, evoking the essence of traditional Indian cuisine in every bite.

Indian Curry Paste

This Indian Curry Paste recipe is the base of any Indian curry. This is a master Curry Recipe that can be used to make anything from Chicken Curry to Chana Masala.

Course Basics of Indian Cooking
Cuisine Indian
Keyword How to make
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 1.5 cups
Author Prerna Singh


Wet Paste

  • 1 cup red onion chopped
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 TBSP water extra if necessary

Garam Masala (dry spice powder)

  • 2-3 no. bay leaves depending on the size of the leaf. 3 if small, 2 if big
  • 2 tsp cloves whole
  • 2 tsp peppercorn whole
  • 3-4 no. black cardamom whole
  • 1/2 no. cinnamon stick whole
  • 1/2 TBSP cumin seeds whole

Whole Spices (for the curry paste)

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 no. black cardamom gently smashed a couple times to break the outer shell

Extra Ingredients (for the curry paste)

  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 TBSP coriander powder
  • 2 TBSP cooking oil preferably mustard oil, but can substitute with canola or olive oil.
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes pureed


Wet Paste

  1. Bring ingredients for the wet paste together in a food processor or blender/grinder.

  2. Add 3-4 tbsp of water. Add extra if needed for the blades to move smoothy. Grind into a semi coarse paste. Set aside.

Garam Masala (dry powder)

  1. Bring all the ingredients together in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Grind into a fine powder. Transfer into a jar with air tight lid. Set aside.

    We will only use half of this masala for the curry paste recipe, to follow. Store the remaining garam masala powder in an air tight container and store in a cool, dark place for later use

How to make Indian Curry Paste

  1. Heat 2 TBSP cooking oil in a thick bottom wok, or pan, over medium high heat.

  2. Add whole spices, in the order listed in the ingredient section.

  3. As the spices sizzle, give it a quick stir. Add the wet paste into the cooking pan.

  4. Stir well. Cook, on medium heat, stirring at regular intervals until all the excess water has evaporated, 5-8 minutes.

  5. Add turmeric and salt. Turn the heat to medium heat and stirring at regular intervals (every 30 secs. to a minutes), scraping the sides and bottom, cook the paste for approx. 5 minutes, until it starts to change color and darken to a light brown color.

  6. Add ghee. Mix well. Scrape the sides and bottom.

  7. Add coriander powder. Add tomato. Turn the heat to medium high. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes, until excess water from the tomato has evaporated.

  8. Add half of the prepared garam masala powder. Store the rest for later.

  9. Mix well. Cook for 1 minute, scraping the sides and bottom, bringing all the masala together.

    Your curry paste is ready to use.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  • Add vegetables to this curry paste 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).
  • 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 airtight container and freeze.

See 10 amazing curries you can make from this curry paste


  1. To make Indian curry paste at home, start by blending garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, garam masala, coriander seeds, Kashmiri chili, black pepper, salt, ghee, tomato purΓ©e, green chilies, and coriander. Adjust flavors for different curry types like Korma, Vindaloo, or Rogan Josh. Experiment with variations and enjoy the flexibility and authenticity of homemade curry pastes.

  2. This is simply easy and mouth watering to eat. Curry powder or paste definetely do make things easy for someone who is not keen to do traditional indian cooking.

  3. Hello,
    I am Lynn, a fellow blogger over @ I stumbled across your sight while in search of a recipe for authentic Indian yellow curry. I have a Indonesian red curry recipe I acquired while in Bali, which I love, love, love. But now I want to venture out a little and learn about Indian curry. But the only recipes I see are for Thai yellow curry. In adhering to good blogging etiquette, anything you share with me, I will happily credit back to your sight. I noticed that the recipe you’re featuring in this post is for a “mother” red curry. Do you have a recipe for a “mother” yellow curry; if there is such an animal. Any assistance would be much appreciated.
    Thank you so much,

    • Hello Lynn,

      Unlike thai curry paste where red, green or yellow ingredients are used to make their respective curries this is the basic Indian curry. This will be primarily yellow because of the use of turmeric. So if you want to make a “yellow Indian curry” you can use this recipe. I am not an expert in thai food so I might not be able to help you with thai yellow curry. Thanks!

    • Hello Lynn,
      There are quite a few differences between Indian and Thai “curries”. Thai uses lots of lighter flavors, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, sugar, often using coconut milk which gives it a more soupy consistency and allows for a lighter appearance, yellow green, etc. Indian curry pastes rely on slow cooking and caramelisation of the onions, as per the recipe above, which make them dark. Also Indian curries are a lot thicker often without a gravy so no prominent colour. This is why you probably won’t find a yellow Indian curry paste. Obviously after saying all that this is just a generalisation and there are very different styles based on geography across both India and Thailand.

  4. Dear Prerna, I have cooked your wonderful paste and made an unforgettable chicken curry from it. THANK YOU for the incredibly delicious firework of flavours.
    I have fired the chicken in the paste and let the chicken absorb the flavors, then I added Coconut milk and a bit of almond paste and seasoned it with a pinch of sugar and salt. My god!
    I made it in India at my Ngo in Bodhgaya and the people loved it. <3 Best wishes from the Foodvagabonds

  5. Hi just made a batch of your curry past,looks and smells great, just need to know how much do I use to make a chicken curry for 4 people please.

  6. I am just beginning to get into Indian cooking. I’ve prepared several dishes with simmer sauces available at a local market and they all have tasted great. Another product I’ve used is “Kitchens of India” paste for chicken curry, and I really like it. This is a 3.5 oz packet of paste which you mix with 1 cup of water and add a lb. of chicken and it comes out really well. Looking at the ingredients for this paste I think I could probably make my own without too much trouble, but I have no idea where to start as far as the ratio of ingredients are concerned. Do you have any thoughts on how I could go about this? Thank you.

  7. Thanks for sharing the secret recipe with us. The paste looks thick and flavorful with those lovely ingredients. It sounds wonderful. It would be helpful for everybody, who would like to cook tomato curry. As usual, the pictures look stunning.

  8. Your curry paste recipe is incredible. I tried it with chicken thighs and drumsticks as a semi dry sauce and it just took me back to my childhood where my parents became friends with a family that had just moved to England, we were invited to their home for dinner, hospitality was out of this world and for a young 10 year old boy as I was then, ( 40 years ago) I can remember all the flavours as if I was eating it all again. Thank you so much

  9. I don’t have the whole spices or a grinder, but have many of these spices in a ground version. Do you know what the conversion would be for those? (ie, as you did for the coriander?) Thanks!

    • I can’t comment on quantity of pre ground spices because they are weak and I wouldn’t use them, but I would highly recommend having fresh whole coriander seed. Coriander seriously tastes like saw dust within just a few days of grinding it. Do yourself a a favor and grind it when you cook with it! you’ll find it actually has an amazing flavor. Many other spices are passable pre ground but not coriander seeds!

  10. Thanks for this recipe! I think I will try it out tonight!

    Also had a request…would you be able to add a “Pin It” button to your blogs? I tried pinning from this post, but for some reason it could not detect the correct image. I would really like to share this recipe πŸ™‚

  11. It looks delicious, but I’m a little lost on the quantity of it that should be used when adding to a curry. I saw in your later Ramja Masala recipe that you used 3/4 cup curry paste to your kidney beans. Would that be an average amount to add to meats? I would love it if you could share a recipe using the paste so that beginners like me couldn’t get it wrong! Thanks

  12. Hi Prema, this paste is the reason we can have home cooked meals during week nights. The only difference is that I add the dry spices before the tomatoes!! Luv the post!

  13. Thanks for sharing the secret recipe with us. THe paste looks thick and flavorful with those lovely ingredients it has to be wonderful. Looking forward to hearing all about your Birthday Cake and menu:)

  14. I love Indian food so much and as a matter of fact, I just had one last night. I am so, so glad I found your blog. It is so inspiring, and will definitely visit very often from now on.

  15. Prerna, this look incredible. I’ve always wondered how it’s made. I may even try it myself. Do you know how long it lasts or the best way to store it? Thanks.

  16. I just got lost daydreaming in your beautiful blog for the past 15 minutes. Looking at the beautiful food and amazing scenery is always like taking a mini-vacation. Now I’m craving Indian food.

  17. Love your cream & blue serving dish / pot. Would you recommend it beyond it’s aesthetics, and if so where did you get it? Thanks.

  18. I hope you finally have settle in somewhat into your name place in CA. I have been reading your blog and just sounds like you had a very busy summer. I had indian food the other night and every time i do i go home and say i need to make this at home. Then i go to your blog and look for recipes and i have a few on my list to make but haven’t made anything yet – so much easier just to go 10 minutes down the road to this fabulous restaurant πŸ™‚

  19. Thank you SO much for the very helpful advice, I really appreciate it! And I am so glad I decided to ask you – because this is way better than my original plan πŸ˜€ Thank you, also, for visiting my blog!!! Can’t wait to keep reading yours and trying your recipes πŸ˜€

  20. Thanks so much guys for your encouragement as usual πŸ™‚
    Now Anna addressing your question-
    I make Paneer in bigger batches, wrap them in plastic wraps and store them inside air tight containers in my refrigerator for almost a month. So you can make it WAY ahead of time. If I am making palak paneer for bigger crowd what I do is prepare curry paste, store it. Boil, blend and store palak (spinach). Now on the day of party I take out a pot, heat a little oil (very little) throw in curry paste, boiled spinach and cream bring it to boil and then add paneer pieces. It will take you about 10 minutes to get it all ready. For naans, I knead & wrap dough in plastic wrap a day before the party. On the day of party roll out naans, spread them on a baking sheet or something, cover with damp cloth and put it in the refrigerator. Try to cook them right before serving but if that’s a hassle just cook them before the guests arrive and reheat in a microwave before serving. I cook them and store in a container with lid and a trick to make them soft like fresh is to cover naans with damp paper towel and microwave for about 30 secs. They will come out hot and super soft. Hope that helps!

  21. Incredible! What a terrific recipe and your pictures are so beautiful they jump off the screen! I’m glad you had a good time meeting with other bloggers!

  22. So helpful! Thank you for sharing πŸ˜€

    I have a few annoying questions for you! I’m having a party Saturday and would like to make some things ahead. I tried your homemade naan and palak paneer last week and loved it all and would like to make it again to serve as a dip. So, how long will the homemade paneer keep in the fridge? And how many days ahead could I do the palak paneer? And can naan be frozen or is it definitely better fresh? Thank you SO much πŸ˜€

  23. I’ve never heard of curry pastes before I started blogging and saw a version on Tanvi’s blog. Heard of curry powder but never paste. Thanks for sharing another great recipe. Look forward to the birthday cake post πŸ™‚

  24. Its nice idea to have such curry paste at hand any time.. it saves a lot of time…
    Your version of the curry paste sounds very nice.. full of flavor!!

  25. This is a lovely idea to mix the two. I used to make something similar and freeze it in cubes to be used during the week.

    Has been a while since I made it in bulk. Yours looks fiery gorgeous πŸ™‚

  26. Hmm…..we never used any curry paste and nor do my relatives in Bombay(I’m never calling it anything but), Delhi or Aligarh.
    I always told my western friends that there’s no such thing as a curry powder and would have told them the same had I known they were seeking curry paste too….but your post makes me wonder that perhaps there are Indian families out there who do use curry powders and pastes πŸ™‚

    • I agree that making and storing paste is probably a less authentic process (I am not Indian but I was always taught by my Indian friends to have pre-made masala to use in dishes as well as the fresher individual spices which go into the dish in different quantities depending on the dish), but having a simple premade pre portioned paste in freezer that lasts for several months with all the garlic and spices in it that you can just throw in the pan is so much easier, especially for someone who works a lot. I am planning to exclude the onion though because I still want to caramelize fresh onion at the beginning of the dish, then add the paste and fresh tomato puree to it. My plan is to make the paste with my own masala recipe and fresh garlic/ginger, a little tomato concentrate, a little water, and asfaetida/mustard seed/curry leaves briefly fried in hot oil, in the blender, then portion it out and freeze it. Trying to get everything into one paste so that my recipe will go like this, caramelize onions, add paste and sautee for a few seconds, add tomato puree and simmer for couple minutes, taste and adjust accordingly, add meat and cook for a while. eat.

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