For people who care about their food

British Indian Restaurant Curry – II: Prerequisites

If you’ve read the introduction to this series of postings about how to make a British Indian restaurant curry at home, you’ll have seen that there are a couple of basic things to make before you get started on making the curry itself.

Onion Paste

  • 2 large white onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Place the raw onion and garlic into a food processor. Add enough water to come about halfway up the side of the blender and blend until very smooth.

Heat the oil in a pan on a high heat, adding the mixture. (Watch out as adding water to oil will make it spit.)

Reduce the mix until it gets drier then add the spices and continue frying until it turns into what looks a bit like bread dough. This may take some time but it’s worth persevering.



This is your onion paste which you’ll need later to make the basic curry.

Spice Mix

This is easy. Simply combine equal amounts of cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala and dried fenugreek.

OK, now that you’ve got your onion paste and your spice mix, you can set them aside for now. The next step is to make the basic curry sauce.

8 Responses to “British Indian Restaurant Curry – II: Prerequisites”

  1. Not Delia

    I’ve received some feedback from a reader. Alphonso wants to know:

    “Hi, on your curry recipe for the spice mix it includes fenugreek. Is this the leaves or the seeds? Is there anything i can substitute for the leaves if it is the leaves i need?”

    Good point, the recipe above doesn’t specify. For a spice mix I would use fenugreek powder (which can be bought as powder or made by grinding the toasted dried seeds). On the other hand, to add additional flavouring to a sauce, I’d use the dried leaves.

    As for substitutions, I’d suggest that if you can’t get the powder for the spice mix, you could replace the fenugreek flavour by adding some dried leaves to the sauce later on.

    If you can’t get fenugreek at all, then just miss it out. It’ll reduce the complexity of the dish a little but you can still make a good curry without them.

    Camellia Panjabi’s butter chicken recipe
    also calls for fenugreek leaves and I have been unable to source them recently and so just missed them out.

    BTW, the Urdu and Hindi word for fenugreek is “methi” so you might find it easier to source by using that name. The dried leaves are called kasuri methi.

  2. Not Delia

    I just managed to buy dried fenugreek seeds today in Penang. They’re called ‘halba’ here. It’s probably the kind of thing that’s more readily available than we think, it’s just that everyone seems to have a different name for it.

  3. keith

    after making the onion paste it says add the spice mix, but it does not say how mutch spice mix to add

  4. Laura

    Hello Mr & Mrs ND!

    I can’t wait to try making my BIR curry at home next week, thank you for your recipe. One quick question, when you say “Place the raw onion and garlic into a food processor. Add enough water to come about halfway up the side of the blender and blend until very smooth”… do you mean add water to come halfway to the level of the onions and garlic in the blender? Sorry if this seems obvious, I just wanted to check. Cheers!

  5. James

    Hi, thanks for this. Any idea how long this mixture will keep for refrigerated?

  6. femi

    Curry, curry, curry. I just can’t get enough.

  7. Curry Monester

    Thank you so much for this. It’s very useful and will probably save me money too.

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