Making this Indian curry paste is easy, foolproof and you can get the most delicious curries quickly from the stove to the table, guaranteed.
The masala paste makes meal prep easy! It comes together in a blender with raw ingredients, including onions, tomatoes, garam masala and a few other spices.
You can make this easy curry paste in under 10 minutes in a blender, and you're all set for a couple--or more--of tasty, Indian restaurant style meals in the days to come. To make a restaurant-style Indian dish like vegan butter chicken simply heat the spice paste with a bit of oil, cook for a few minutes, and add the tofu (this air fryer tofu or baked Indian style tofu are especially amazing).
You can also use lentils for a vegan dal makhani, or add seitan or any vegan meat. Thin out with water or stock, it's that easy!
This is a raw paste (unlike the cooked tomato onion masala sauce I've shared with you previously). When you are ready to make a recipe you will need to cook the curry paste for a few minutes and then add some protein (or vegetables) to it. When you have it in the refrigerator--or freezer--you can rest confident that you have everything you need for a delicious dinner in minutes, no more chopping required.
Table of Contents
Why you'll love this easy curry paste
- It is super easy to make. You need a few basic ingredients and spices on hand and you can put it together in the blender.
- It's foolproof. Follow directions and you can't go wrong.
- It goes with a variety of proteins and vegetables. I use this curry paste with tofu, vegan meat substitutes and with lentils even. You can also add instead vegetables like mushrooms, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, squash and more. The resulting dishes are quite different tasting but delicious, with a restaurant-like flavor.
- You can make as much or as little as you like. The recipe below makes enough for two uses, each to serve about four people. You can make more or less (use the handy slider in the recipe card) and refrigerate or freeze it.
Ingredients for curry paste
- Tomatoes. Use any you have on hand, about three medium sized tomatoes. I used beefsteak tomatoes this time.
- Aromatics: Onions (shallots are even better), garlic and ginger
- Spices: Ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, cayenne, paprika (optional, for color) and garam masala
- Kasoori methi or dry fenugreek leaves.
- Raw cashews (or pumpkin seeds if nut-free). This adds a creamy finish to the dish.
- Shiitake or other dried or fresh mushrooms. These are optional but strongly recommended, and you just need 3-4. The mushrooms add wonderful flavor and umami and make this curry paste quite sublime. You can also use fresh mushrooms. The mushrooms disappear into the paste, so anyone who hates mushrooms doesn't even have to know they are in there, but they add a delicious depth to the masala and therefore the curry.
How to make curry paste
- If using the mushrooms (strongly recommended), soak dry mushrooms in ½ cup of hot water for 15 minutes. If using fresh mushrooms you don't need to soak. Rough-chop tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic.
- Place the chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger in the blender. Drain the mushrooms if using (reserve the soaking water to add to any curry or other dish you are making as it's a great stock) and add them to the blender.
- Add cashews, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, cayenne, paprika if using, garam masala and cashews (or pumpkin seeds) to the blender. (I added the kasoori methi to my curry paste to make things easier but keep in mind you will taste its bitterness a bit more if you blend it. You have the option of leaving out the kasoori methi from the paste. Add it later when you are actually making a curry with the paste.)
- Blend all the ingredients into a smooth paste.
- TIP: Do not add any water to the blender. The moisture from the onions and tomatoes is enough to blend this. This will make it much easier to cook the paste when you make the curry later.
How to make a curry with the curry paste
I made a tofu curry with the curry paste to show you how to use this correctly. You can, as I said above, use a variety of other proteins or vegetables instead but follow the same instructions.
- Heat 1 teaspoon of any vegetable oil (like avocado oil) in a saucepan. Add half the curry paste to it (don't add any water). Saute the paste over low or medium-low heat, about 10 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated and it becomes quite glossy and a few shades darker (there's little fat here so you won't really see any fat express). If you taste the curry paste, it should not taste raw.
- Add the tofu cubes to it (I used air-fried tofu seasoned with salt and pepper, although plain tofu cubes work well too). Add 2 cups of vegetable stock or water. If you didn't add kasoori methi to the curry paste, add a tablespoon of it now (crush it between your palms as you add it to the pot).
- Let the sauce come to a boil and cook for five more minutes, during which it will thicken quite a bit. You can add more water or stock to thin it out.
- Check seasoning and add more salt if needed. Serve hot.
You can refrigerate the curry paste for up to three days or freeze it for longer storage. Thaw before using.
More Indian masalas for meal-prep
Easy Indian Curry Paste
- 3 medium tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 2 medium onions (or four shallots, roughly chopped)
- 2-inch knob ginger (roughly chopped)
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1-2 teaspoon cayenne (use less if sensitive to heat)
- 1-2 teaspoon paprika (optional, but gives great color to the curry paste)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ cup raw cashews (or pumpkin seeds if nut-free)
- 2 tablespoon garam masala
- 4 dry shiitake mushrooms (or any dry mushrooms. You can also use fresh crimini or button or any other mushrooms. For dry mushrooms, soak 15 minutes in hot water. Drain before using)
Make the curry paste
- Place all ingredients in the blender and blend into a very smooth paste without any added water.
- Use or refrigerate/freeze.
Make a curry with the curry paste
- Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a saucepan. Add half the curry paste and saute until it becomes a bit darker and very glossy. The paste should not taste raw.
- Add any protein or quick-cooking vegetable, including tofu, vegan meat substitute, cooked lentils, boiled potatoes, zucchini or cauliflower to the saucepan with two cups water or vegetable stock. Add a tablespoon of kasoori methi if you didn't add any to the curry paste and salt to taste. Cook 10 minutes or until the curry is quite thick. Add more water if needed. Finish with a tablespoon of vegan butter for a smooth mouth-feel.
- Nutrition information is for half the curry paste made by this recipe.
- You can add a variety of proteins or vegetables to make a curry with the paste. Use tofu, as I did, or cooked lentils, vegan meat substitutes, or vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, etc. For vegetables that will take a while to tenderize, precook the veggies first--for instance, boil the potatoes before adding them to the curry.
- Adding kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves) to the paste will make it a little more bitter. I like it and add it to make things easier, but if you'd rather just leave out the methi and add it later, when you are making a curry with the curry paste. At that time crush it between your palms as you add it to the pot. This will give you the pleasant finish without more bitterness.
- Finish off your curry, when you cook it, with a tablespoon of butter for a smooth, creamy mouth-feel. This is optional but it adds a lovely flavor and I really recommend it.
Vaishali, I am so grateful for your website. It is enabling me to move from vegetarian to vegan, deliciously. I’m so happy for your take on middle eastern food, as that is my heritage. But have we ever come to love Indian food!
So many of your recipes contain cashews. Do you have any hints for finding them economically?
Very good recipe. I added brocoli, peas and carrots.
In your introduction you mention garam masala and cashews but not in the ingredient list and instructions. How much of each do you suggest?
Hi Annette, my bad-- it's 1/4 cup cashews and 2 tbsp garam masala--I've added them now. Happy you still enjoyed it!