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A simple masala

I like this masala as a basis for many curries.  It is pretty fast to cook up and you can add whatever vegetable, paneer, egg or meat that you want.


1 onion, chopped fine

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic minced
1/2 inch ginger minced
1 Tbsp ginger / garlic paste

2 tomatoes, chopped
OR 1 Tbsp tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water
OR 3/4 cup tomato puree
Don’t use canned tomatoes..they won’t cook down.

1 to 2 green chilis, chopped (or to taste)

1/2 tsp cumin seed (jeera)
1/2 tsp mustard seed (rai)
1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp coriander powder (dania powder)
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 red chili powder or to your taste (lal mirch)
2 cups water or to desired thickness
Salt to taste

Add: Frozen vegetables, pre-cooked vegetable, pre-cooked meat, paneer, leafy vegetable, cooked Koftas, whatever you like

To finish (can omit if you do not want sour)
Lemon Juice

Can add the following for taste or garnish:

Coriander leaves, chopped
Fresh curry leaves, fried

Oil to fry

Place 3 Tbsp oil in pan and heat. Add mustard and cumin seed, when they splutter, add onion. Stir and cook until translucent..or you can brown onion if you like that taste, just cook and stir until they are as brown as you like. Add garlic (don’t brown garlic, it gets bitter!) and minced ginger OR ginger / garlic paste and stir. Add green chile and stir. Add tomatoes and cook until slightly softened – if using paste or puree, add it now. Add turmeric, coriander powder, chili powder, garam masala and stir. If tomatoes or puree / paste are not liquidy enough, add some water so that spices do not stick and burn (about 1/2 cup). Cook, stirring constantly until oil begins to separate from the paste. Add 1-2 cups of water (depending on how thick you want it) and stir well.

At this point you can decide whether you want a smooth sauce or not. If you want smooth, remove from heat..cool slightly, blenderize and pour back into pan. If not, just leave as is.

Add whatever vegetable, paneer or meat ingredients you want at this point. Cook sauce to desired thickness or until ingredients are cooked through, add salt to taste. Finish with lemon juice or yogurt if you like. Coriander and / or curry leaves can be added for taste too.

Quantities of masala sauce can be made ahead of hand, just don’t add the veggies, cheese, meat or yogurt until you heat it. Keep refrigerated or freeze. You will have it ready for when you need it!

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