Bhoona translates to roasted/sautéed, and masala as a word is popular world-over as well…masala! This is pretty much the essence of most Indian curries i.e. the gravy part. While there are some variations, I have found this one to work best for me and I make quite a bit of it to keep some in my freezer at all times. This saves so much time and effort. This is a simple recipe with the only catch being time. It is a little painful (read boring) trying to get the perfect masala. I mean compared to the very quick meals in some other cuisines, this is annoying and my least favourite part, ugh.
Ask husband to buy:
These ingredients make masala for about 3-4 servings of many curries that use gravy
– Onions: 1 large or 2 small
– ginger: 1/4 to 1/2 inch piece
– Garlic: 1-2 large cloves
– If there is no ginger and garlic, ready-to-use ginger-garlic paste: 1/2 tbsp
– Green chillies fresh or frozen: 1-2 pieces depending on how hot you prefer your food to be
(I use frozen ones from Indian store and they are fantastic)
– Coriander leaves if you like the taste: just as much as you would use for garnish
– Garam masala: 1-2 tsp
– Turmeric: 1-2 tsp
– Cumin seeds/cumin powder: 1-2 tsp
– Asafoetida: a pinch
– Coriander powder: 1-2 tsp
– Red chili powder if you would like it to be more hot: as per taste
– Powdered paprika for red colour if desired: as per desired colour
– Olive oil: 1/2-1 tbsp
For some variations we use these ingredients below. I will add the recipes using these variations too:
-soaked cashew paste
– a dash of milk
– hung yogurt
– boiled onions and tomatoes
– Small piece of cinnamon stick
– 1Bay leaf
– few cloves
– few cardamom pieces
This is how we do it:
- Rough chop chunks of peeled onions and throw in a blender along with green chillies, ginger and garlic.
- Meanwhile heat the deep pan and add very little olive oil just enough to grease the bottom and a little bit of the sides of the pan.
- Heat the oil with gas on medium. When the oil is hot enough, add a pinch of asafoetida and the cumin seeds
(the cumin seeds should begin sizzling if the oil is just hot enough. Keep in mind that the oil should not be so hot that it begins smoking)
- Add the turmeric and coriander leaves to this and mix it in for a nice flavour
- If you are using ginger-garlic paste, add it now and sauté for a few seconds.
- Pour your ground mixture of onions into the pan now.
- Begin sautéing patiently. I add a pinch of salt at this stage so that the onions leave the water soon and the mixture cooks faster.
- I also add all my dry spices at this stage
- If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pan (but isn’t cooked), add a tiny bit of water which is just enough to get it off the bottom of the pan and deglaze the pan.
- Stir the mixture to cook evenly.
(If you use non-stick pan, you won’t need to be at it continuously, you can let it go for a few mins and stir in between and keep an eye on it. Another neat trick is to cover the lid of the pan and check in between every 2-3 minutes or so, to stir.)
- Use the mixture right away to make your curry or freeze the masala to use it for up-to 2 months or so.
(If you use it straight out of the freezer, be patient as you add some water and it melts on the heated pan. Shouldn’t take more than 5 mins or so.)
- Adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding water. Some curries need a lot of watery gravy and some need thick gravy for a relatively dry preparation.
- One super quick sabzi that you could make using masala at this stage, is to use potatoes and that’s it! Just cut 3-4 medium sized potatoes into cubes or pieces of your preferred size. Add water to the masala and make it flow-y. Then add the potatoes and cook till tender. I do it using the Indian pressure-cooker and that does it.
Where’s the hygge?
Having the bhoona masala at hand can turn making any curry into a fast and easy exercise. For me, having the masala is like a sophisticated version of a quick peanut butter sandwich (only more filling and nutritious). When we go away or don’t have time some weekends to do our weekend meal-prep, this is the best go-to for creating a full-on meal. The hygge that home-made good food brings, is unparalleled.