3.7/5 rating (45 votes)

Tomato Base Restaurant Sauce

Tomato Masala

  • Heat Medium
  • Serves 4
  • Prep 10 mins
  • Cook 1 hr 5 mins
Tomato Base Restaurant Sauce

This is a base masala sauce used in restaurants to create the basis for most of the curries served.

Hari says

When I run my cookery classes one of my disclaimers is that the food probably won't taste like the dishes and the sauces the client is used to eating from their local takeaway. When I cook at home each dish is created from scratch so each sauce starts and ends differently - take away cooking doesn't have this luxury as dishes need to be cooked and out the door as quickly as possible.

The sauces that form the basis of the dishes from the curry house have been something that has intrigued me for many years and I have spent a lot of time looking through books and speaking to restaurants about this. So for all you curry house fans out there I have created this base sauce recipe that you can make at home, freeze and pull out as and when the craving for curry hits you. You can add meat, veg, prawns or soya to this and create any dish you want.

  • Ingredients
  • Method
  • 500g onions, peeled
  • 25g fresh root ginger
  • 900ml water
  • 25g garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée 
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp mild chilli powder/paprika


  1. Roughly chop the onion, ginger and garlic.
  2. In a blender blitz the onions, ginger and garlic with half the water until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Place this blended paste and the remaining water into a large pan. Stir in the salt and bring to boil, ten reduce the heat and leave to simmer for about 45 minutes. Leave to cool.
  4. Once cooled, pour into a blender and whizz until you are left with a completely smooth sauce.
  5. Blend the tinned tomatoes until completely smooth.
  6. Heat the oil in a clean pan and add the tomato purée, turmeric and chilli powder. Stir in the blended tomatoes and bring it all to the boil.
  7. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the onion mix and bring it all to a boil. After a few minutes reduce to a simmer.
  8. Skim off any froth from the top and leave to cook for 25 minutes continuing skimming off any froth.
  9. Leave to cool and store in the refrigerator for 5 days, or freeze 
  10. Heat and use as and when required.

Served with

This base sauce can be used for any basic tomato based dish, such as chicken, lamb or veg - it's your choice.

Nutritional information

Typical values* per Serving
Fat (g)2.9
of which saturates (g)0.2
Carbohydrates (g)3.0
of which sugars (g)2.1
Fibre (g)0.6
Protein (g)0.7
Salt (mg)1.0
*Based upon calculated values, supplied by myfitnesspal.com. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated.

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Comments (11)

  • Jim


    30 April 2020 at 17:38 |
    Hi there,
    Can you use this base sauce for south Indian food,



    • Hari Ghotra

      Hari Ghotra

      06 May 2020 at 13:52 |
      Hi Jim It doesn't really have the flavours of South Indian food why not try my Keralan fish curry sauce?


  • Michelle


    27 August 2018 at 05:24 |
    I just made this today. I'm very interested two aspects of the sauce: The onion, garlic, and ginger started out white, but as it cooked, it turn a bluish/green. Is that normal? Also, I found it interesting that, after combining the onion sauce with the tomato and spices, it was EXTREMELY bitter, but by the time it was finished cooking, 90% of the bitterness was gone. I added a can of coconut milk to it at the end and will use it over veggies and tofu. What are other ingredients I could add to the base to change the flavors and uses? Thank you!


    • Hari Ghotra

      Hari Ghotra

      28 August 2018 at 10:55 |
      Hi Michelle Nice to see you gave this a go. Its a good base sauce to have in the fridge or freezer. The green blue is usually down to the garlic as the sauce cooks through the flavours soften and blend into each other. You can add cream and butter to make it a makhani style sauce, you can cook onions, peppers and cumin seeds and add a little sauce to turn it into a quick Jalfrezi. Does that help?


  • Bruce


    10 August 2018 at 16:21 |
    Hi can you confirm the quantities in the list of ingredients? A tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of turmeric? Also sounds like a lot of veg oil, can it be done with less? Can I use coconut oil or ghee instead


  • Hari Ghotra

    Hari Ghotra

    18 May 2015 at 09:01 |
    Hi Chas
    This will give you about 5 small(ish) or 4 large portions. Thanks Hari


  • Chas Lawson

    Chas Lawson

    15 May 2015 at 15:20 |
    How many portions would this quantity make, please?


  • Hari


    09 February 2015 at 09:51 |
    Yes, no sure what happened there - for the feedback!


  • dhb


    06 February 2015 at 17:56 |
    Should step 2 state "In a blender blitz the [onions,] ginger and garlic with half the water until you have a smooth paste."?


  • Evelyn


    30 January 2015 at 01:36 |
    How much water?


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Hari Ghotra