Go Back
+ servings
Basic Tomato Onion Sauce to make quick curries like chana masala, palak paneer, saag aloo, methi malai paneer tofu and many more. 30-minute recipe, make in Instant Pot, pressure cooker, or on the stovetop. #vegan #glutenfree #soyfree #nutfree #indian #easydinner #recipes #tomato #onion #Indianfood #holycowvegan HolyCowVegan.net
Print Recipe
5 from 14 votes

Basic Tomato Onion Masala Sauce for Quick Curries

A basic Tomato Onion Sauce that you can store and use to make quick and flavorful curries, like Methi Malai Paneer Tofu, Chana Masala, Palak Aloo or Palak Paneer. Recipe includes Instant Pot, pressure cooker and stovetop cooking options
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Curry, Indian Vegan, nut-free, Sauce, Soy-free
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Tomato onion sauce
Servings: 6 to 10 uses
Calories: 112kcal


  • 1 ½ pounds (about seven or eight medium) red onions (very finely diced)
  • 1 ½ pounds (about eight) ripe tomatoes (very finely diced)
  • ¼ cup ginger garlic paste
  • ¼ cup coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoon paprika (optional but adds nice color)
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  • Add the oil in the Instant Pot set to low saute function. Add the onions and ginger garlic paste and saute for a few minutes until the onions start to soften. Add the remaining ingredients and give it all a good stir.
  • Put the lid on the Instant Pot and set to pressure cook for 10 minutes. You don't need to add any water-- the moisture in the tomatoes will be enough.
  • If you are cooking this in a pressure cooker that goes on a stovetop, follow instructions above and then let the tomatoes and onions cook for six "whistles" or for 10 minutes after maximum pressure has been reached (set heat to medium-low at this point).
  • If making this on a stovetop, again follow steps one and two, and then cover and cook over medium-low, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for 30-45 minutes until the sauce has darkened and is very thick.
  • You can store the sauce in mason jars or any containers with airtight lids for up to a week in the refrigerator, or for several months in the freezer.


  • If you're anything like me, you'll likely be crying your way through chopping the onions. To avoid that, chop the onions in half, put them in a bowl, and leave them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before I chop them. This reduces any tearing to a minimum.
  • You can store this sauce in the refrigerator for about a week, or you can put it in smaller containers and freeze it. If you freeze, thaw before using it. I need about a cup and a half each time I use it in a recipe, and this batch will make enough to last you through at least 8 to 10 meals.
  • I've shared with you in the past recipes for other curry pastes like my Tikka Masala Curry Paste, my Balti Sauce and my Easy Curry Paste. If you love cooking Indian food, having one or a couple of these on hand can be a lifesaver on busy days or weeks, and you'll have everything you need on hand for a delicious, from-scratch meal.


Serving: 1recipe | Calories: 112kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Potassium: 552mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 2319IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 2mg