Base for a curry using ground masala paste

For the masala paste:

4-5 red chillies
1 tbsp white poppy seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 big onion sliced
Fresh coconut or dry 1 tbsp (optional)

In a small pan add 1 tbsp of oil and when hot add the red chillies. When they start to swell take them off the pan (so that they don’t burn) add the cumin, poppy and coriander seeds. Stir and cook for a few seconds and then add the sliced onion. Cook till onion browns. If you are using coconut add it to the pan after the onion has browned (optional add 1 or 2 tomatoes). When the fried ingredients are cool grind to a paste in a mixer along with the red chillies adding a little water to the mixture.

Remaining ingredients

Fresh coriander
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder (if the red chillies you use are not very hot then you can add 1 tsp of garam masala to the curry, first taste the curry before using garam masala). You can add any vegetables of your choice that have been cooked or chickpeas/black-eyed beans from a can or fresh ones soaked overnight and cooked till tender (approx 2 hours cooking time).


In large pan heat tbsp oil, add the masala paste and stir for a few seconds before adding the vegetable or chickpeas – add hot water to make a curry consistency. Cook till vegetables/chickpeas mix in well with the masala, add turmeric and garam masala powder (this depends on the hotness of the curry) salt and sprinkle with fresh coriander. If the vegetables are not soft, cook for a longer period till they are done. This masala paste can be used for any curry base i.e. fish or meat. If you make a larger quantity of paste it can be stored in a bottle in the fridge for 3-4 days. (Optional garlic/ginger paste).