Curry Made Easy

It’s been negative a million degrees in Toronto lately (I’m only partially kidding), so it’s been all about comfort food here.  One of my favourite things to make when it’s cold out is curry…especially Indian curries.  A lot of people think that they can’t make authentic curry at home, but if you can caramelize onions and have a few spices on hand, it’s easy!  Bonus – you can make one base sauce that turns into a number of different curries.

Curry Made Easy - Eggplant Spinach Curry and Chickpea Curry

To start, you’re going to need some onions.  Roughly chop 2-3 large red onions and place them in a large, heavy pot with about a tablespoon of canola oil.  I start caramelizing my onions over medium heat, but if you have a super hot stove, go for medium low.

Curry Made Easy - Chopped Onions

My method for caramelizing onions is to keep the lid on them for the first 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.  I find that this helps to soften the onions.  After about 10 minutes, take the lid off and reduce the heat.  Keep stirring occasionally for another 20 minutes or so, until the onions are deep, golden brown.  If you find that the bottom is starting to burn, add a splash of water to deglaze.  

Curry Made Easy - Caramelized Onions

Now, add a generous amount of grated ginger (let’s say a thumb sized piece) and about 6 cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press.  Cook about 5 more minutes and then add a generous tablespoon of tomato paste.  Now the cooking continues…

Curry Made Easy - Curry Base

Cook, stirring often, over medium low heat “until the oil comes out.”  This is the direction that I was given when learning to make curry at home, so I pass it on to you.  Basically, you want to cook that tomato paste until it’s deeply caramelized.  It will take another 10-15 minutes.  

Now add:

– 1 tablespoon of whole cumin seeds

– 1 tablespoon of whole brown mustard seeds 

– 1 tablespoon of garam masala

Let these spices toast with the curry mixture for about a minute, stirring constantly, and then add about two cups of water and give it a good stir while scraping up those caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan.  Season generously with salt and let simmer on medium low heat while you prep the other curry ingredients.

Curry Made Easy - Eggplant  

At this point, you have a basic curry sauce that you can take in a number of different directions.  I’m going to show you how to turn it into both a creamy eggplant spinach curry and a hot and tangy chickpea curry.  

For the Eggplant Spinach curry, cut 6-8 small Japanese eggplants into 1 inch half moons.  Spread these out on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little canola oil and sprinkle with some salt and garam masala.  

Curry Made Easy - Eggplant to Roast

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until they are golden and tender.

Curry Made Easy - Roasted Eggplant  

Now divide your curry base into two large pots.  In one, add the roasted eggplant and generous splash of heavy cream.  Give it a stir and add a little extra water if it looks dry.  Adjust the salt to taste and add an extra teaspoon of the garam masala.  Add a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach, stir and let it simmer until the baby spinach wilts. 

Curry Made Easy - Eggplant Spinach Curry

To the second pot of curry base, add 2 large cans of drained chickpeas, stir and add:

– A generous splash of white vinegar

– A teaspoon of garam masala

– About a tablespoon of your favourite chili powder (less or more depending on how spicy the chili powder is and how spicy you like your curry.)  You can also substitute with 1/4 cayenne pepper.  

Stir and add a bit of water, if the curry looks too dry.  Let this simmer for 10-15 minutes to heat up the chickpeas and let the flavours combine.  Feel free to add a extra splash of vinegar before you serve, if you like the extra tang.  Who doesn’t like extra tang?

Curry Made Easy - Chickpea Curry

Serve with rice, naan or, our current favourite, paratha bread. 

Curry Made Easy - Eggplant Spinach and Chickpea Curry with plate

The beauty of this curry base if that you can really create a variety of curries with one, basic curry base.  Don’t be afraid to play with your food!

Curry Made Easy - Plate of Curry


Curry Made Easy
My recipe for a simple Indian curry sauce that you can turn into a variety of different curries.
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  1. 3 large red onions, chopped
  2. A thumb sized piece of ginger, grated or pureed
  3. 6 cloves of garlic, pressed
  4. 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  5. 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  6. 1 tablespoon whole brown mustard seeds
  7. 1 tablespoon garam masala
  8. Salt to taste
  1. Caramelize the onions over medium low heat until they are deep golden brown, 20-30 minutes
  2. Add ginger and garlic and saute for 5 minutes
  3. Add tomato paste and cool until deeply caramelized, 10-15 minutes
  4. Add cumin, mustard seeds and garam masala and cook for 1 minute
  5. Add 3 cups of water, scraping down the caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan
  6. Salt to taste and simmer for 15 minutes
Creamy Eggplant Spinach Curry
  1. Cut 6-8 Japanese eggplants into 1 inch half moons
  2. Place on baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and garam masala
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees, until golden brown
  4. Add roasted eggplant to large pot containing half of the curry base
  5. Add a generous splash of cream and 1 teaspoon of garam masala, stir and bring to simmer
  6. Add a few handfuls of baby spinach, stir and cook until spinach is wilted
Spicy Chickpea Curry
  1. Add 2 large cans of drained chickpeas to a pot containing half of the curry base
  2. Add a generous splash of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of garam masala and about 1 tablespoon of your favourite chili powder (or 1/4 cayenne pepper.)
  3. Stir, adjust salt and add a little water if the curry is dry
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes
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