Indian Curry Sauce | Onion Tomato Masala – Instant Pot & Stove

January 5, 2018 (Updated: September 16, 2019) By Aneesha |

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This Indian curry sauce is a rich, aromatic and versatile Punjabi-style master curry recipe that forms the base for a variety of delicious north-Indian dishes, curries and lentils. Make this onion-tomato masala in bulk in your pressure cooker or stove and freeze it for later use. This curry sauce is a lifesaver for weeknight curry cravings.

Master Curry Sauce - Punjabi Gravy by Spice Cravings. This Punjabi Gravy is a rich, aromatic and versatile master curry sauce that is the base for a variety of Indian curry dishes. This recipe starts with onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes, simmered with warm Indian spices like garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and of course, salt, turmeric and cayenne. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #curry #Indian

Easy Meal Prep Recipe

As with most Indian food recipes, this one also starts off with fresh produce.  All it is, is onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes, simmered with warm Indian spices like garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and of course, salt, turmeric and cayenne, which is the inseparable trio in Indian cuisine!

Versatile Indian Curry Recipe

You can make a variety of Indian recipes with this master curry recipe. Some popular examples are Chana Masala, Kidney Beans curry (Rajma), Paneer Mutter (Cottage cheese and peas), Everyday Chicken Curry, and believe it or not, even Butter Chicken!

Wait… What?  Yup!  All you have to do is add chicken and heavy cream or Greek yogurt to this curry, add a pinch of sugar or honey, and cook everything till the chicken is tender.  Garnish with cilantro, and you have a super-easy butter chicken.

Master Curry Sauce - Punjabi Gravy by Spice Cravings. This Punjabi Gravy is a rich, aromatic and versatile master curry sauce that is the base for a variety of Indian curry dishes. This recipe starts with onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes, simmered with warm Indian spices like garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and of course, salt, turmeric and cayenne. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty

How to Make Curry Sauce: Make-Ahead and Freeze

This Indian curry recipe is a great make-ahead and freeze item.  I always make a big batch of this sauce, cool it, and pour it in single-use mason jars, pop it in the freezer and pull it out on crazy weeknights.  I add either lentils or canned chickpeas or Paneer & Frozen peas or even boneless chicken thighs, and we have a delicious dinner ready in minutes.

Here’s how I use this Indian Curry Recipe

This instant pot recipe makes around 7oz.-8oz. of curry sauce.  I multiply this curry recipe based on my meal planning, store it and freeze it in 8oz. mason jars.  As and when I need it, I thaw a jar (or two), in the refrigerator overnight, or, remove the lid and defrost it in the microwave, using any low power setting.  Here’s how I use it:

Paneer Mutter (Cottage cheese and peas)

Master Curry Sauce, Punjabi Gravy by Spice Cravings. This Punjabi Gravy is a rich, aromatic and versatile master curry sauce that is the base for a variety of Indian curry dishes. This recipe starts with onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes, simmered with warm Indian spices like garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and of course, salt, turmeric and cayenne. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #indian #Curry
  • Add curry sauce, 1/4 cup water, 10 oz. paneer cut into cubes, and 1/2 cup frozen peas to the Instant Pot and stir well.
  • Close lid. Sealing Position.  Cook for zero minutes on Manual/Pressure Cook.  Manually release the pressure by turning the knob to Venting position.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro.


Chana Masala

Master Curry Sauce, Punjabi Gravy by Spice Cravings. This Punjabi Gravy is a rich, aromatic and versatile master curry sauce that is the base for a variety of Indian curry dishes. This recipe starts with onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes, simmered with warm Indian spices like garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and of course, salt, turmeric and cayenne. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #indian #Curry
  • Add curry sauce, rinsed and drained can of chickpeas (or pre-soaked), 1.5-2 cups water and 1 teaspoon garam masala to the Instant pot.
  • Close lid.  Sealing Position.  Cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 4 minutes.  Wait 5 minutes and release the pressure (NPR 5). If using pre-soaked, increase pressure cooking time to 35 mins Bean Mode. NPR.
  • Squeeze in some fresh lime juice and garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.

Rajma Masala (Kidney Beans Curry)

Instant Pot Rajma Masala- Red Beans curry
  • Add curry sauce, rinsed and drained can of kidney beans (or pre-soaked), 1.5-2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon garam masala to the Instant pot.
  • Close lid.  Sealing Position.  Cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 4 minutes.  Wait 5 minutes and release the pressure (NPR 5).  If using pre-soaked, increase pressure cooking time to 25 mins Bean Mode. NPR.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.

Authentic Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken- Authentic & Easy Murgh Makhani
  • Using an immersion blender, puree the curry sauce till it’s smooth.  Skip this step if you like a chunky sauce.  Add curry sauce, boneless skinless chicken pieces (about 1.5 inches), 1/2 cups water and 1 teaspoon garam masala to the Instant pot.
  • Close lid.  Sealing Position.  Cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 4 minutes.  Wait 10 minutes and release the pressure (NPR 10).  Add 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.

Toor Dal Tadka (Split Pigeon Peas)

Toor Dal tadka, Split Pigeon pea soup, lentil soup, Instant Pot Soup by Spice Cravings. Toor Dal, also known as Arhar Dal or split yellow pigeon peas, is the most popular lentil all over India. Made with mustard seeds, onions and curry leaves. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #indian
  • Soak 1 cup dal for 30 minutes in warm water. Rinse and drain.  Add curry sauce and 1 cup water,  to the Instant Pot and stir well.
  • Close lid. Sealing Position.  Cook for 5 minutes on Manual/Pressure Cook.  NPR 5mins and release pressure.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime before serving (Optional).
  • Time Variation for other Lentils: Red Lentils: 5 mins; Green Lentils: 8mins

Great for Party Planning

Whenever I am hosting a dinner party with an Indian food menu, I always make this curry recipe a few days in advance.  That makes cooking time so manageable and less exhausting for me, so I can enjoy my own party too:-)

Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot

I find it very easy to make this in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot (IP).  To learn more about the instant pot, check out my Instant Pot FAQ and Accessories blog.

Prior to owning an IP, I used to make it in my stove-top pressure cooker, Hawkins.  I used to wait for 2 whistles, reduce the heat to medium, and cook it another 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the cooker depressurize.  That’s it!

Stovetop Recipe for Indian Curry Sauce

You can also make this easy curry sauce in a saucepan on the stovetop.

Take any deep sauce pot, that’ll prevent the tomato sauce from splashing all over your stove-top, or your hand. :-).  Follow the recipe, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes on medium heat, stirring in between (probably every 5 minutes or so).  If you double up the recipe, the cooking time will increase by a few minutes.

Some Cool Tips for Indian Curry Sauce

You know the Indian Curry Recipe is done, when you can see a super-thin layer of oil coating the sauce/gravy.  In other words, when the gravy starts oozing oil, it is done.

Freezer Storage Tip: When I’m making a ‘bigger’ batch of this curry sauce, to optimize freezer storage, I pour the curry in 1-inch Ice Cube Silicone Trays.  Once its frozen, I pop the cubes out and store them in a gallon-size Ziploc Freezer Bag. This way, I take out only what I need. For example, if I’m cooking a very small quantity, say only for myself, I take out only 2 cubes of gravy.

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Master Curry Sauce - Punjabi Gravy by Spice Cravings. This Punjabi Gravy is a rich, aromatic and versatile master curry sauce that is the base for a variety of Indian curry dishes. This recipe starts with onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes, simmered with warm Indian spices like garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and of course, salt, turmeric and cayenne. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty

Easy Indian Curry Recipe

This Punjabi Gravy is a rich, aromatic and versatile master Indian curry sauce that is the base for a variety of Indian curry dishes. 
4.55 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 44kcal
Author: Spice Cravings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Prep: Finely chop ginger, garlic, onions. I typically use a mini-food processor for this. I start pulsing ginger garlic, about 10 times, then add cubed onions and pulse another 6-10 times till everything is finely chopped. By adding the ginger-garlic first, I get a finer chop on those than the onions. Remove the mix. Add tomato cubes and puree them to a smooth consistency. If using canned diced tomatoes, you can add as-is, or puree, depending on your texture preference. I prefer this sauce to be smooth, so prefer pureeing.
  • Heat oil in Instant Pot on Saute mode. Wait 30 seconds and add cumin seeds. When cumin seeds begin to splutter, add chopped onions, ginger and garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes till golden brown.
  • Add pureed or crushed tomatoes and use it to deglaze the pot. Scrape the brown bits at the bottom using a wooden spoon. Those brown bits contribute to the flavor, plus, if they remain stuck to the bottom of the pan, they’ll eventually burn. Add spices and water and stir well. Turn off the Saute mode. Close lid. Vent to Sealing mode. Cook for 5 minutes on Manual/Pressure Cook. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes (NPR 10). Open lid and you’re done!

Stovetop Recipe

  • Take any deep sauce pot, that’ll prevent the tomato sauce from splashing all over your stove-top, or your hand.  Follow the recipe above, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes on medium heat, stirring in between (probably every 5 minutes or so).  If you double up the recipe, the cooking time will increase by a few minutes.

Video

Notes

If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
 
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 44kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 392mg | Potassium: 107mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 405IU | Vitamin C: 5.3mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 0.7mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: master sauce
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!

HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Shanthi
    September 16, 2019 at 10:05 am

    5 stars
    Brilliant! This recipe has become part of my weekly meal-prep. So easy! Thank you!

    • Reply
      Aneesha
      September 16, 2019 at 10:12 am

      Hi Shanthi, That’s great! I am so glad to hear that. I make a batch of this every Sunday, it’s a lifesaver for me 🙂

  • Reply
    alonnasmith
    January 5, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Wow! What a tour de force of a recipe. I can’t wait to try it and thanks for all the ideas!

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      January 5, 2019 at 11:19 am

      Hi There! That’s such a sweet comment- thank you so much! Glad you liked this recipe- I would love to hear how you like it when you try it! Thanks again!

  • Reply
    Janice
    December 29, 2018 at 10:30 am

    What a brilliant master sauce. I made it in my Instant Pot and was so impressed with the balance of flavour and subtle heat which builds but never overpowers. This will be my go to curry sauce from now on! Thank you.

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      December 29, 2018 at 11:05 am

      Hi Janice! Thank you so much for your sweet words. I am super glad you liked this recipe. This sauce is my ‘lifesaver’ on weeknights 🙂

  • Reply
    Anne Whiting
    January 16, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Can this recipe be doubled or tripled in a 6-quart Instant Pot?

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      January 16, 2018 at 9:59 am

      Hi Anne, Yes, very easily. I make 4-5 times this recipe in my 6 QT whenever I am entertaining or making enough to freeze.

      • Reply
        Anne Whiting
        January 16, 2018 at 10:02 am

        Great! I love the idea of making this once and enjoying it many times. Thank you!

        • Reply
          aneeshasg
          January 16, 2018 at 10:34 am

          Yup, me too! Mine stays good in the freezer for up to a month. I am sure it stays good for longer, I’ve always ended up using mine in that time frame. Makes last-minute entertaining a breeze too. Hope you enjoy it!

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