Bhuna Masala, also known as Indian Curry Paste, is a super simple curry base that can be made ahead and frozen, to make a variety of Indian curries on the go! It’s so easy you’ll only need some basic pantry ingredients to whip it up!
Cooking Indian curries usually involves sautéing onion, tomatoes, ginger, and garlic along with a variety of Indian spices, depending on the curry recipe. Along with prepping all the ingredients, the entire process can be a bit time-consuming.
That’s where this super quick and easy Indian curry paste can be a lifesaver! It’s exactly what you need on those busy days to have a decent curry on the table in under 15 minutes.
Why you’ll love this
- You probably already have all the ingredients you need. You’ll need only some basic pantry ingredients to make this flavorful curry paste. It’s easily available in the market nowadays, but the homemade version tastes much better with the added bonus that you know exactly what goes in it.
- It’s so versatile and pairs so well with vegetables, chicken, and dals. With add ons and adjustments, you can easily make most of the north-Indian and south-Indian curries with this perfect everyday Indian curry paste!
What goes in Bhuna Masala
Here’s what you’ll need to make Bhuna Masala or Indian Curry Paste:
Onions and tomatoes: Forms the main base of the recipe giving it the rich flavor, texture and thickness.
Garlic, ginger, and green chillies: Ginger and garlic, preferably fresh, and crushed to bring out all that juiciness. You can even substitute with homemade or store-bought ginger garlic paste. Green chillies for adding spice and flavor.
Oil, ghee and spices: Common Indian cooking staples that you can find at any local supermarket.
How to make Bhuna Masala
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Then add onion, garlic, ginger, and green chilli and sauté everything on high flame for a minute.
Cover the kadhai with a lid and cook the onion mixture for 20-25 minutes on a medium-low flame, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a beautiful golden brown and oil starts separating from the sides
Once the onion mixture is ready, add tomato puree along with the remaining spices and stir everything. Bring everything to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for 2 minutes.
Place a lid on and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow it to simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Cook till the sauce starts to reduce and oil starts to appear on top.
Uses of Bhuna Masala
You can use this Bhuna Masala or Indian curry paste as a base for several Indian curries like Rajma Masala, Chicken or Egg Curry, Matar Paneer, Aloo Gobi, Chana Masala etc, basically any curry that’ll need a rich onion tomato base. So feel free to put in whatever you want to put in it.
Use 1/2 a cup of bhuna masala with 1.5 cups of cooked chicken or prawns, or 2 cups of vegetables chopped into bite-size pieces, or 2 cups of mushrooms, or 2 cups of cooked dal or beans etc.
Add water to adjust consistency of the gravy, then add spices or any other ingredient (like cream) according to the recipe…aaand there you have your easy weeknight curry!
This recipe for bhuna masala yields around 6 cups that you can store in a super airtight container and refrigerate for 4 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
If you’re planning on freezing it, allow the mixture to cool completely. Then portion it for individual curries and store it in multiple containers, so that when you need to use them you only have to take out the required amount.
If reheating from frozen, thaw it in the fridge overnight. Or if you’re in a rush, you can place the frozen bhuna masala in a covered pot and reheat it on the stove until warm.
Bhuna Masala (Indian Curry Paste)
- 1 Wok
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp ghee (optional)
- 2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
- 500 grams red onions finely chopped
- 3-4 green chillies finely chopped
- 40 grams fresh ginger crushed
- 40 grams garlic cloves crushed
- 700 grams tomatoes roughly diced
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp chilli powder
- 2 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt
- Heat oil and ghee in a large heavy bottomed pan or kadhai over medium heat.
- Add cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter. Add onions, ginger, garlic and chillies. Slowly cook everything, stirring every now and then, for about 20-25 minutes.
- Grind the tomatoes into a puree while the onion mixture is cooking.
- Once the onions turn brown in color and oil starts to separate from the sides, add the tomato puree along with remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring frequently for 2 minutes.
- Place a lid on and lower the heat to medium low to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
- Cook till the sauce starts to reduce and oil starts to appear on top.
- Use this rich curry base to make many different Indian curries in less than 10 minutes.
- Or if you want to store it for later, wait for it to cool down. Then store it in portions in airtight containers and keep refrigerated for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- This recipe for bhuna masala yields around 6 cups that you can store in a super airtight container and refrigerate for 4 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
- If you’re planning on freezing it, allow the mixture to cool completely. Then portion it for individual curries and store it in multiple containers, so that when you need to use them you only have to take out the required amount.
- If reheating from frozen, thaw it in the fridge overnight. Or if you’re in a rush, you can place the frozen bhuna masala in a covered pot and reheat it on the stove until warm.