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Mar 21, 2010 06:33 AM

Making Indian cooking sauces

This is a request for recipes.

I am wondering if there are any good but easy-to make Indian cooking sauces that a person without a great deal of background in Indian cuisine could pull off.

There are some delicious PC-brand sauces (Korma, Tikka Masala, Madras) that I've used. They also have Thai curry bases but I would l make these using pre-made pastes and coconut milk. I'm hoping there might also be a shortcut-version for Indian?

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  1. Here's my generic easy sauce.

    Fry a couple of onions till they're soft. Then throw in a couple of cloves of finely chopped garlic. Fry for few seconds only. Then add a teaspoon each garam masala and chilli powder and a tablespoon of ground coriander. Fry these for a few seconds more. Then add a tin of tomatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes.

    It's easy to fiddle with after the first time - adding more/less/different spicings.

    I use this as it stands for an easy-peasy veggie curry - adding three tins of legumes - say chickpeas, kidney and butter beans. They just need heating through in the sauce.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      Will try this. Sounds simple.
      You don't use coconut milk? Or Cashew butter?

      1. re: neighborguy

        No, I rarely use coconut milk as I'm not really keen on the creamier type of sauce. And I've never heard of cashew butter - certainly doesnt feature in any of my sub-continent cookbooks.

        1. re: Harters

          Cashew butter may not feature in your books, but ground up cashews, almonds, (white) poppy seeds etc. feature in many dishes like Korma. But if you don't like the creamier dishes, then you would not want to use this.

          What's your goal: to buy a mix and use that to make a premade gravy/sauce? There are comparatively few of these in the market (e.g. MTR Sambar mix, and Rasam mix - different from the sambar / rasam spice powders) that you just add hot water and/or cooked dal to.
          But there's a mind boggling array of new products in the Indian store shelf, you may be able to find what you like. Have you looked recently?

          1. re: Rasam

            For sure there are lots of almost-ready jar product...but if I can make it myself relatively easily and inexpensively using real ingredients that is the way to go.

            Tonite I threw together a curry sauce using an onion-garlic-ginger base to which I added spices and tomato -- it wasn't bad. But I can see how I will play with the spicing and technique (frying onion purre, then adding spice instead of spice first, then onion) for a variation on the result.

            1. re: neighborguy

              I've had luck with the base "cook-ahead sauces" in Mridula Baljekar's "Real Fast Indian Food". She has three: madras curry sauce, butter sauce, and northern curry (kadhai) sauce. (Further into the book, I've made her "Koftas in Hot Lentil Sauce" a number of times and it's a definite winner.)

      2. re: Harters

        tHIS sounds great. I will definitely try this. Will adding cream to this sauceturn it into something reesembling tikka masala? That's my favorite.

        1. re: lilmomma

          Add ginger along with garlic to Harters' original idea, and add cumin with the coriander, and some turmeric, for a generic "curry" sauce. There are many variations of that basic theme, but the trinity of onions, ginger, and garlic, most often go together.

          For CTM you need tomatoes, butter, cream, and perhaps more of the warm spices depending on the constitution of the original garam masala. Some CTM recipes use kasoori methi too (dried fenugreek leaves).

          1. re: Rasam

            What do you mean by "warm spices"?

            1. re: lilmomma

              "warn "spices generally refer to to cinnamon, clove, black pepper, cardamon - major ingredients of northern garam masala blends (a spice mix usually sprinkled on at the end of cooking, vs. the whole form of these spices that would be fried and cooked into the sauce.

              1. re: jen kalb

                What she said :)

                the Mughlai garam masala mixes typically have only these ingredients.

                The more Punjabi garam masala mixes also add in cumin and coriander, so you may want to ease up on adding extra of those, depending on which spices you want to balance out or bump up.

                Garam masala literally means warm spices.

      3. The original comment has been removed