This is the key to a great Indian dish and what generally lacks in the western home to create genuine Indian food that has the depth of flavour achieved in India.
Everyone tends to have their own family recipe that has been passed down through the generations. We liked one man’s recipe because it had a massive flavour and he cooked it over 26 hours, many people wouldn’t give up their recipe for their gravy, but bribed this man to give up his version! As a restaurant owner who has been cooking for over 20 years we trusted his version. It is more complex than other versions we have seen since, but this really is worth the extra ingredients and effort to make a ‘blow ya socks off sauce’.
This is what is known in India as “gravy”, a dish will either have it or not. Most of the ingredients are the same, but in different quantities that is down to the taste of that family, so if you first make this and like to add or subtract whatever- do so! This is what Indian cooking is all about- making food to your taste. With this sauce you can make loads of different dishes by adding extra spices in different quantities and a variety of vegetables and meat. This fact makes this recipe the most important of all!
What is important to note is that it often people cook a curry and know the flavours of India are there, but it just doesn’t quite taste right and the flavour is not as deep as those you enjoy so much in Indian restaurants. That is all down to the layering and treatment of the numerous ingredients that go into the sauce. For example make a cooked onion paste, use raw onion and eventually in the dish itself fried onion. This produced different qualities in the onion. Frying caramelises the onion, while cooking raw onion in a dish produces a sharp, acidic taste. Together with nut paste and a ginger/ garlic paste combination, along with numerous powdered spices produces an intoxicating sauce that is full of intense and yet a well balanced flavour.
The fundamental sauce is used in numerous dishes like a Marati chicken curry and cheese kofta.