Indian Curry Sauce | Onion Tomato Bhuna Masala (Instant Pot)
This Indian Curry sauce, also called Bhuna Masala, is a flavorful and versatile master sauce that forms the base for a variety of Indian curry dishes, lentils and more. A great make-ahead and easy-to-freeze sauce recipe.
Using a mini-food processor finely chop ginger, garlic by pressing the 'pulse' button 8-10 times. Add cubed onions and pulse another 6-10 times till everything is finely chopped. Remove and keep aside. Puree the tomatoes to a smooth consistency. Skip is using canned crushed tomatoes or puree.
Instant Pot Curry Sauce
Preheat the pressure cooker on Saute mode. Wait 30 seconds and add cumin seeds. When cumin seeds begin to splutter, add chopped onions, ginger and garlic. Saute 5-8 minutes (depending on quantity) until onions get light golden brown. Stir at regular intervals.
Add salt and spices and saute for 1 minute. This helps toast the spices and release their aroma.
Add tomato puree and use that to scrape off the brown bits stuck at the bottom of the pot. Add water as needed, depending on the portion size you're making.
Cancel Saute, Close the lid in position and cook for 5 minutes at high pressure using Pressure Cook or Manual, on sealing mode.
Let the pressure release naturally for 5-10 minutes (NPR 10). If in a rush, release pressure manually by following the quick release instructions. Open the lid only after the pin drops. You can use or store the masala as is, or puree it using an immersion blender.
To store, let the masala cool completely, then transfer to any air-tight container and refrigerate or freeze (see instructions below).
Follow the recipe above using a deep sauce pot on medium-high heat. After step 3, reduce heat to medium, cover the pot and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring at regular intervals. Please Note: If you double up the recipe, the saute and simmer time will increase accordingly.
Easy Prep: For convenience, I chop all aromatics and puree tomatoes using a mini food chopper. That cuts down prep time considerably and doesn't need any advances knife skills.
Instant Pot Method vs. Stovetop: I find the hand-off method of the Instant Pot much easier than using the stovetop method, especially if I'm doubling or tripling the recipe.
Storage: This masala stays good in the refrigerator for up to a week, but for best results, I would recommend using it within 5 days. Read below for freezing directions.
Freezing Instructions: Once the masala cools down, I prefer to store it in either a single-meal portion (4 servings) or individual serving. I either use 8oz. mason jars or a silicone mold which store ¼ cup portions. Just label with name and date for convenience. If using the mold, once frozen, you can pop out the cubes and store them in a freezer safe ziplock bag. It stays good in the freezer for up to a month.
How to use Bhuna Masala: If making a curry or lentils, you can either thaw the masala in the refrigerator overnight, or add the frozen cubes as-is along with your other ingredients and set it to pressure cook. For stir-fries, it is better to thaw it out first.
Recipe Updated: Recipe has been updated with easy replacement for chili powder, and updated with clearer instructions, process shots and a measurements for a larger quantity that serves 12.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates and based on a serving size of 4. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.