This Bhuna Masala or Everyday Indian Curry Paste is prepared using tomatoes, onions and lots of Indian spices! It is the base for most north and south Indian curries and is perfect for when you want to ace that curry in a hurry!
It's the mother of all curry bases and exactly what you need when you want curry in a hurry. Bhuna masala is the perfect everyday Indian curry paste and I for one can't do without it! It's a lifesaver for so many reasons:
- Perfect base for most Indian curries
- Can be used for north Indian as well as south Indian dishes with some add-ons and minor tweaking
- Stays good in the refrigerator for up to a week
- Freezes really well
These days it's pretty easy to buy it off the shelf. But preservatives. And when it's so easy to make your own and store, why buy when you can DIY. You see I'm all about the rhyming today.
It's a concentrated paste with the goodness of ginger, garlic, green chilies, onions, tomatoes and wonderful Indian spices. Most curries in India start with bhuna masala.
I realised that I ended up making this every time I was making Indian curries. And I smartened up. Figured that I could make a larger batch and just leave it in the fridge for a week's worth of curries/ dals or freeze it for later. Perfect time saving trick.
Tell me you are as busy as I am? With no time to shower even. Okay that's just me. But busy or not, this is arsenal. For the best curries ever.
How many cups does this recipe make?
This recipe makes 8 cups of bhuna masala. While it may seem like a small amount, it is actually sufficient for sixteen mealtimes for a family of four. How cool is that?
How to store Bhuna Masala?
Here's how I store this - I have small glass containers which can store ½ cup of Bhuna Masala each. That's exactly what I need when I'm making dinner for four. Plus I can just put the lid on and dump these in the freezer for later. So win win.
It stays good for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator but when frozen, it can last at least two months. You can even directly add frozen bhuna masala straight into the pan. It makes things so much easier when they are portioned and ready to go!
How to use Bhuna Masala?
My rule of thumb is ½ cup of bhuna masala makes the perfect gravy for four people. It has the right amount of masala flavour in it, regardless of the protein, veggies or dal I add to the gravy. Once you make it for yourself, you can figure out what’s good for you, in terms of spices, flavour, texture and consistency.
I suggest you test one portion of curry that would suit your or your family’s needs. You can rely on that as a rule of thumb for every time you use this!
- When making a chicken or prawn curry, you can use ½ cup of bhuna masala to go with 100 grams of chicken or prawn
- If you're making a mushroom curry (like our Mushroom Masala), 2 ½ cups of mushroom can be used with ½ cup of bhuna masala directly in the recipe. Start with the tempering step, add more spices and then you can skip the addition of onion, tomato as shown in the recipe. Instead add the bhuna masala and continue from the kasuri methi step. As simple as that!
- If you're making a mixed vegetable curry like a vegetable kadai masala then 1 ½ cup of mixed vegetables (carrot, beans, potato etc) can be used with ½ cup of bhuna masala
- For something like a Matar Paneer use 250 grams of paneer and ¾ cup of green peas along with ½ cup of bhuna masala. You can straight up follow the recipe directly from the hung curd step!
- For a gravy with rajma or chana, use 1 cup of cooked chana along with ½ cup + 2 tablespoons of bhuna masala. Add cream in the end for a creamier result!
- Add a little more ginger and garlic each while preparing the curry. The fresh ginger and garlic give it an extra kick. Keep in mind, our masala already has a strong flavour of ginger and garlic, this little extra is for hardcore fans like me.
- A tempering of 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds in the beginning is also a good addition
- For South Indian curries, a tempering of mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves is ideal. Prepare this tempering before adding the masala.
- Add additional green chillies or crushed black peppercorns while sautéing the bhuna masala for a spicy curry. Alternatively, you can also add red chilli powder.
- Adding ½ teaspoon of garam masala in the end while preparing a curry will make it more aromatic and flavourful.
- Similarly, adding a pinch of hing in the beginning will give it that extra kick of umami
- Add coconut milk with your veggies or protein for a creamy korma like flavour. You can even add cream or hung curd for a smooth texture.
This recipes makes approximately 8 cups, and you can easily halve or double this recipe.
Watch how to make Bhuna Masala Recipe Video
Bhuna Masala or Everyday Indian Curry Paste
- 3 tablespoons Oil
- 1 tablespoon Ghee optional
- 1 tablespoon Jeera or Cumin Seeds
- 750 grams Red Onions peeled and cut into four parts
- 50 grams Garlic peeled cloves
- 50 grams Ginger peeled and roughly chopped
- 4-5 Green Chillies or Serrano Peppers adjust to taste
- 1 kg Tomatoes cut into four parts
- 1 tablespoon Chilli Powder
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 2 tablespoons Coriander Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- To prep the veggies, add onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies to a food processor or mixer grinder, and chop till it resembles a coarse chop. Remove this mixture in a bowl, and add tomatoes and grind them to puree.
- In a large pan or kadhai, heat oil and ghee and add cumin seeds. Once the seeds start spluttering add onions mixture.
- Cook stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes till the onion mixture turns brownish in colour and oil separates from the sides (as shown in the video above).
- Add tomato puree, salt and all the remaining spices and cook on high heat while stirring continuously for two minutes. Reduce the flame and cook for another 15-20 minutes with the lid on, till the mixture reduces a little, and you can see oil start to appear on top.
- Use this as a base for curries and stir fries. To store for later, cool completely before transferring into ziplock bags or freezer friendly food safe storage containers.
- Bhuna Masala stays in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to three months.
- Prepping Veggies: You can alternatively chop the veggies finely instead of using the food processor
- Refrigeration: Bhuna Masala can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days
- Freezing: Bhuna Masala can be frozen for up to 3 months
- Storage: I prefer storing ½ cup bhuna masala in small jars and then freezing them. This way I only have to thaw the required amount every time I want to use it