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Easy Indian Basic Curry Paste Recipe

by Sophie

Indian basic curry paste made from scratch, and oh-so-delicious. Here is the easiest curry paste recipe.

Indian Basic Curry paste

Indian Curry Paste:

  • Indian curry paste has many variations. But the base paste almost always contains onion, tomato, and ginger-garlic paste. 
  • The spices often used in this are turmeric powder, ground cumin and coriander, red chili or cayenne pepper powder and garam masala.
  • Don’t forget to season with salt, and allow the mixture to cook until thick, well-browned and semi-dry. 
  • The best way to know if the paste is done is by checking if oil oozes out of the mixture or if the mixture becomes lumpy mass and leaves the pan easily. 

How to Make Curry Paste?

Here is the curry paste recipe or the base paste recipe for all Indian curries.

How to make curry paste
  • To make the Indian curry paste, you will need these ingredients:
  • Onion paste, tomato puree(freshly made), ginger and garlic paste, and spices- turmeric, ground cumin and coriander, garam masala, and salt.
  • Heat your pan.
  • Add oil and add the onion with ginger-garlic paste once the oil gets warm but not hot.
  • Allow the onion paste to cook thoroughly and brown really well. (This may take 8-10 minutes on low heat)
  • At this point, add tomato puree and cook the mixture well.
  • Once the mixture thickens and oil leaves the pan, add all the spices and salt.
  • Mix well, and cook for another five minutes.
  • Your perfect Indian basic Curry Paste is ready.

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Tricks to The Perfect Curry Paste:

Indian Curry Paste

The trick to have the best and good quality Indian basic curry paste is by:

  • browning the onion and tomato pastes really well.
  • When you cook the onion and ginger, garlic mixture, it should brown very well before you add spices and tomatoes.
  • For oil-free, cook in low so that onions naturally brown as they cook in aquafaba or little hot water.

If this curry paste is so simple, then why I am posting a recipe article on it? The truth is many people often ignore the fact that curry paste can be made in advance and stored in refrigerator, which will in turn save a ton of time. And my curry paste can be easily stored in refrigerator for a week or more. And the best part is that you can whip up a quick curry, use the paste as a marinade or use it as a base for many gravies, soups and sauces.

Indian basic curry paste

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Love vindaloo, add all essential ingredients to this Indian basic curry paste and you are done. Or looking for a gravy base for saag paneer? Just add two to four tablespoons of this curry paste, blanched spinach paste and paneer and bring it to a boil. Your scrumptious saag paneer is ready to serve.

Indian basic curry paste

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My busy life with two children sometimes leave me crazily tired and lethargic. This Indian Basic Curry paste certainly saves my life. Just cut some veggies or even use frozen veggies, add curry paste and make patties or add a spoon of curry paste to lentils and a lentil curry soup is ready. The truth is that you can really get creative with this curry paste and make many many beautiful and yummy dishes in a jiffy.

Making curry paste, as I mentioned before, is really easy. Here is my step-by-step guide.

Indian Basic Curry Paste Recipe:

Indian curry paste

Step 1: In a food processor, add onion, garlic, ginger and green chili. Process to make a coarse paste.

Indian curry paste

Step 2:

  • In a frying pan, add oil and allow it to warm.
  • Add onion, ginger garlic and green chili mixture and cook it for few minutes.
  • Once the onion starts to lose water, add salt.
  • It allows the onion to cook even faster by losing more water.
    Indian curry paste

Step 3:

  • Brown the mixture well on low flame, and cook until the mixture starts to ooze oil, and the mixture starts to leave the pan.
  • Keep stirring occasionally by scraping the mixture from the sides of the pan.
  • At this point, the mixture becomes a thick with a pasty consistency.
  • This is the time to add spices.
    Indian curry paste
  • Add all the spices and give a good stir, so the spices incorporate well.
  • Indian curry paste
    Now you have two choices.
  • You can turn the heat off and keep this mixture as your base curry mixture or add tomatoes and cook it further.
  • Because some curry recipes don’t include tomatoes, I prefer keeping half of this basic curry paste without adding tomatoes and then cook the rest half with tomatoes.

Step 4:

  • After keeping half of this mixture, I add chopped or pureed tomatoes, and allow it to cook until the mixture dries up and has a pasty consistency.
    Indian curry paste
  • Once it reaches the desirable consistency, the curry paste is ready.
  • Allow it to cool down completely and store it in refrigerator for a week or two.
    Indian curry paste

Storing Suggestions for Indian Curry Paste:

  • Store in an airtight glass or BPA-free plastic container.
  • Use a clean spoon every time you want to use the curry paste.
  • Don’t add fresh herbs such as chopped cilantro to this paste while storing. Instead, add it to the end curry after cooking.
    Indian curry paste

Making Other Pastes with basic Indian Curry Paste:

Red curry paste: onion curry base paste+galangal+kefir lime+dried lemon grass+Thai red chili+vinegar and tamarind+brown sugar

Korma paste: Indian curry paste+coconut cream+cashew paste+ garam masala

Tikka masala: Indian basic curry paste+tomato and cashew puree

Yellow curry paste: basic curry paste+turmeric+tamarind+green chili and Thai basil+kefir lime and dried lemongrass

Chole curry paste: basic curry paste+garam masala+dried fenugreek leaves+pomegranate seed powder

Some curries and curry flavored recipes I made with this curry paste are here. Just click on this recipe image to visit each recipe post.

vegan seitan tikka masala
vegan seitan tikka masala
vegan barley salad
Curried Barley Salad
vegan barley salad with curried chickpeas

For more curry inspiration: Pineapple Curry from Lathiya’s Kitchen HERE

Nutrition Facts Homemade Curry Paste:

I use two table spoons to 1/4 cup of this Indian basic curry paste per recipe based on the requirement. Here is a serving size of two tablespoons for making curry for two.

Want to know how many ounces, spoons and grans in a cup? Here is a detailed cups to oz calculator and downloadable chart. And, a liquid conversion chart with ounce to gallon calculator.


Indian Curry paste

Easy Indian Basic Curry Paste

Indian basic curry paste, the heart and soul of any Indian curry is really easy to make. And you can store it for a week in refrigerator or freeze it for months!
4.62 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: basiccurrypaste, curry paste, currypastefromscratch, curryusingcurrypaste, easycurrypaste, indianbasiccurrypaste, indiancurry, indiancurrypaste, indiancurrypasterecipe, makecurrypaste, redcurryindian, whatiscurrypaste
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 29kcal
Author: Sophie
Cost: $6

Equipment

  • Instant pot

Ingredients

  • 3 large red onions (cut into chunks)
  • 6 larger garlic pods
  • 2 inch ginger
  • 4 green chilies
  • 2 large tomatoes (pureed)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (hot or extra-hot variety)
  • 1.5 tbsp cumin powder
  • 0.5 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (optional)
  • 2 tbsp canola oil (more if you want)

Instructions

Prep the paste

  • In a food processor, take onions, garlic, ginger and green chilies.
    Indian curry paste

Cook the paste

  • Heat a frying pan, add oil and allow it to warm.
    Indian curry paste onion puree
  • Add onion, ginger garlic and green chili mixture and cook it for few minutes.
  • Once the onion starts to lose water, add salt. It allows the onion to cook faster by losing more water.
    easy Indian curry paste
  • Brown the mixture well on low flame, and cook until the mixture starts to ooze oil and the mixture starts to leave the pan.
  • At this point, the mixture becomes semi-dry and leaves the pan easily.

Add spices

  • This is the time to add spices. Add all the spices and give a good stir, so the spices incorporate well in the mixture.
    adding spices to Indian curry paste
  • Now you have two choices. You can turn the heat off and keep this mixture as your base curry mixture or add tomatoes and cook it further.
  • Because some curry recipes don’t include tomatoes, I prefer keeping half curry paste without tomatoes and half with it.
  • After keeping half of this mixture, I add chopped or puréed tomatoes, and allow it to cook until the mixture dries up and has a pasty consistency.
    adding tomato puree to curry paste
  • Once it reaches a thick and pasty consistency, the curry paste is ready.
    ready red curry paste Indian style

Store

  • Allow it to cool down completely and store it in refrigerator for a week or two.
    Indian curry paste

Instant Pot Method

  • Set the instant pot to the saute mode. Let it heat till the "Hot" sign appears on the IP display. Add oil and let it heat.
    How to make tikka masala sauce
  • There is a little difference in this Instant pot method than the traditional curry paste making method mentioned above. Instead of adding onions first, we will add everything all at once.
  • Add onion, ginger and garlic mixure, followed by tomato puree, all spices and salt. Give a good mix and saute for about 2 minutes. (Till the mixture loses some moisture)
    Add Puree
  • Now change the cooking method to pressure cook and set the time for 3 minutes.
  • Close the lid and seal the vent.
    Pressure cooking in instant pot
  • Once the cooking time is up, wait for the NPR.
  • After the natural pressure release, stir the mixture well.
    Instant pot indian curry paste
  • Now press the saute button again and cook the mixture further till the mixture looks thick and paste-like consistency.
  • The curry paste is ready. Store it in an air-tight glass jar for two weeks or freeze it for a month.
    Curry paste ready to be stored

Notes

  • Use mild curry powder if you are using hot or extra hot chili powder.
  • I don’t add garam masala to this basic curry paste. Instead, I add it to a finished curry in the end.
  • Skip green chilies and hot chili powder if you want a mild curry paste.
  • For Thai style curry paste, use only the onion base curry paste and avoid adding cumin powder.
Some of the curry inspirations that you can try using the curry paste are:

Nutrition

Serving: 30g | Calories: 29kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Fat: 6g | Fiber: 2g | Calcium: 22mg

Want to pin this recipe? Click Pinit!!

FAQs:

What is Red Curry Paste and Yellow Curry Paste made out of?

The Red Curry paste and Yellow Curry paste are made from Thai chilies, galangal, kefir lime, Oriental sauces and fresh herbs. In contrast, Indian red curry paste has the same onion-tomato base with more Kashmiri chili powder whereas, the Indian yellow curry paste has either coconut milk or cream with turmeric and curry powder for that vibrant yellow hue.

Can I use Curry powder instead of Curry paste?

Curry powder is a spice blend(link here) whereas curry paste is the base gravy or curry sauce base. If you want to use curry powder as a base of your curry, make a paste out of ginger-garlic, tomato puree and curry powder and cook it in oil for the Indian curry.

How do you store curry paste?

Store curry paste in an air-tight container for a week or freeze it in a glass jar for a month. 

What is curry powder, curry paste and curry made of?

Curry powder is a spice mixture(find recipe here) whereas curry paste is the base  of a curry. It acts as the main flavoring agent, thickener and as the base sauce of a curry.

How do you thicken Indian Curry?

With a curry paste base sauce, you really don’t need a thickener(like yogurt, nut paste or coconut milk) to thicken the gravy. However, if you curry is super thin for some reason, add nut paste, dairy or non-dairy cream, and coconut milk to thicken the curry.

Now that you know how to make the Indian basic curry paste, you can make it any time you want. And share the name of your favorite curry in the comments. I really appreciate your feedback. Don’t forget to check my next post that will show you how to use this curry paste in making some awesome grill marinades.

Indian curry paste, homestyle curry paste #vegan #easycurry
Indian curry paste, homestyle curry paste #vegan #easycurry

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25 comments

Lathiya May 31, 2017 - 5:16 pm

Good one dear ?..it’s a life saver

Reply
Sophie May 31, 2017 - 6:07 pm

Thank you lathiya ?

Reply
Martini June 1, 2017 - 1:20 pm

5 stars
very nice…definitely eases life in kitchen… thanks for sharing.

Reply
Curry Marinade Easy Recipes Using Indian Curry Paste June 2, 2017 - 4:26 pm

[…] Easy Indian Basic Curry Paste Recipe […]

Reply
Elena June 3, 2017 - 5:35 pm

5 stars
Great idea ? of making curry in minutes in weekdays. I love the variations of making other curry pastes using this base one !

Reply
Vegan Seitan Tikka Masala: Tandoori Spiced and Healthy June 29, 2017 - 12:47 pm

[…] Easy Indian Basic Curry Paste Recipe […]

Reply
Amit April 28, 2018 - 2:12 pm

5 stars
I was looking for a curry paste to make Bombay Potatoes and this worked perfectly! Just added potatoes, some canned plum tomatoes and turmeric powder and it turned out just like what you get in an Indian restaurant 🙂

Reply
Sophie April 28, 2018 - 10:15 pm

Thank you

Reply
24 Chakra December 12, 2018 - 3:13 am

5 stars
This looks awesome!

Reply
Rita December 14, 2018 - 2:53 pm

4 stars
I make my paste whenever there’s lot of guests coming home. It makes life easy and give us time to..

Reply
Sophie December 14, 2018 - 11:00 pm

I know right! It’s such a time saver and makes curry cooking an easy breeze.

Reply
Vindaloo Curry - My Dainty Soul Curry May 19, 2019 - 6:00 pm

[…] love the idea of making curry paste in advance and store it for a week or freeze it for a month in individual portion size bags. My […]

Reply
Jessica Formicola May 29, 2019 - 10:19 am

5 stars
I’ve never used curry paste, but man does this look awesome! I can’t wait to try it!

Reply
Sophie May 29, 2019 - 10:52 am

Thank you Jessica, hope you love it!

Reply
Wanda Baker May 29, 2019 - 10:50 am

5 stars
This is so good to know, thank you! Way better than the stuff I have in a jar in the fridge I’ll bet!

Reply
Sophie May 29, 2019 - 10:52 am

Thank you Wanda. Everything homemade tastes just great!

Reply
sue | the view from great island May 29, 2019 - 11:03 am

5 stars
I’m bookmarking this post, I love that you’ve broken down all the different kinds of curry pastes…I see a lot of curry on our menu in the next few weeks 🙂

Reply
Sophie May 29, 2019 - 11:04 am

Thank you so much Sue.

Reply
Chichi May 29, 2019 - 4:28 pm

5 stars
Thanks so much for this recipe. Was just looking for an easy and basic Indian curry paste recipe.

Reply
Sophie May 29, 2019 - 7:23 pm

Thank you so much. Hope you like it!

Reply
Trista May 30, 2019 - 4:20 pm

5 stars
Love this unique, Indian curry paste recipe. I always thought the bottled red curry is the one paste available for curries. Never knew we can make our own.

Reply
Rae July 24, 2019 - 4:04 am

5 stars
Love this curry paste recipe. Currently got a great (fat free) curry base recipe so this looks like a great addition to make the best (healthy) curries.

Reply
Sophie July 24, 2019 - 6:11 am

Thank you so much Ray.

Reply
Karyl Henry August 25, 2019 - 11:41 am

5 stars
My parents are from Trinidad so I’ve been eating curry all my life. I never thought to make my own curry or curry paste before! Your steps and instructions are super easy, and I’m going to definitely have to try this myself, especially since curry isn’t that easy to find where I live

Reply
Sophie August 25, 2019 - 10:30 pm

Thank you so much!

Reply

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