Basic Curry Sauce For Winter Freezing

I’ve spent all summer fiddling with tomatoes in the greenhouse. Feeding, clipping, watering and generally tickling them. I had envisaged relaxing outside on bright summers evenings enjoying fresh homegrown tomatoes smashed into mozzarella, dripping with Pesto and accompanied by a tangy cool white wine. I had conveniently forgotten I live in Northern Ireland where Tuscan style sunny evenings are few and far between and the tomatoes aren’t at their best till September.

Now the kids have returned to school the evenings, though pretty, have an autumnal feel and I finally have a daily harvest of tomatoes.

My other daydream is having enough of a harvest from my greenhouse to fill my freezer with homemade pasta and pizza sauces. This way I can put a little bit of sunshine on the table all through the winter. This is definitely a more realistic dream to fulfil.

Ages ago a good friend gave me a book called Indian Slow Cooker (Neela Paniz. Ebury Press 2015). It has been a bit of a journey falling in love with my slow cooker, but this book has helped me along the way. It’s a particularly welcome new addition to the family on those grey days when we don’t get home till late from various clubs and activities. It means I can just scoop a meal straight of the slow cooker without even having to heat anything up.

I was doing my meal planning for this week, browsing through the book and had a brainwave. I decided to make a vat of curry base sauce, using the tomatoes, to portion up and freeze to make those long slow cooker days even easier.

It was too good not to share.

So here it is. Usually I tweak recipes out of books to suit myself. This one is good enough to leave intact. Though the method is different to fit in with my wonky way of working.


1 1/2 cumin seeds
800g finely chopped onions
7.5 cm roughly chopped ginger
12 cloves garlic roughly chopped
750ml puréed fresh tomatoes (I filled a jug to about the litre mark with tomatoes and used a hand blender to purée, Neela recommends you could use 4 or 5 medium size tomatoes for this)
2 1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 – 1 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp salt


1.  Toast the cumin seeds for about 5 minutes on a high heat in a heavy bottom pan on the hob. Keep shaking while they toast and then allow to cool.

2.  Grind up cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar and put to one side.

3.  I can use the bowl of my slow cooker on the hob so I sauté my onions directly in this. If you can’t, put the slow cooker on to heat it up while you sauté the onions in a heavy pan on the hob

4.  While the onions are sautéing (10-15minutes) pulse the garlic and ginger into a paste in a food processor or with a hand blender. Use a tablespoon of water to help it get to paste consistency.

5.  Add the ground toasted cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and chilli powder to the onion

6.  If you sautéed the onions on the hob in a separate pan, now is the time to pour into your slow cooker. Use about 100ml of water to deglaze the pan and add this into slow cooker too. If you cooked the onions directly in the bowl of your slow cooker just add 100ml to the slow cooker and stir together.

7.  Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 5 hours.

8.  I am going to use some of this tonight to make a chicken curry, I am looking forward to trying it on potatoes and lamb as well. Another thought lurking in my head is that it would be nice with shredded lamb wrapped in a flatbread with some mango chutney, raita and a bid of crisp salad.

Make it different

If you prefer a smoother sauce you could then blend it with a sticke blender or in a food processor

Just a thought

If you do do not have a slow cooker I suggest you could prepare as above in a heavy pan on the hob and then transfer to a very low oven, 100c for example and cook for the around 3 hours.

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