Base gravy forms the foundation for most curries cooked in British Indian Restaurants. It’s made from onions, tomatoes and spices, slow cooked for several hours and blended down to make a smooth stock/sauce which is added to curries during the cooking process. Think of it as a blank canvas to which spices and other ingredients are combined to create the unique taste of each curry.
On its own base gravy doesn’t taste particularly good, it’s a bit like a weak onion soup. The magic happens when you add spices and other ingredients, and apply intense heat which caramelises the onions and develops the familiar rich BIR curry flavour.
Why use base gravy?
Base gravy is used to speed up the cooking process in busy restaurant kitchens. Cooking a traditional curry from scratch takes around an hour, something very few customers would be willing to wait for each time they ordered their food.
To increase efficiency in the kitchen, different component parts of a curry are prepared and pre-cooked – base gravy is just one of those components. When an order comes in, the different components are combined and cooked so that a curry can be ready in less than 10 minutes.
How do I use base gravy?
Base gravy needs to be prepared in a separate pan. It should be heated and diluted to a thin consistency (similar to milk) before being added to the curry after the spices and meat have been cooked through. The heat must then be turned up to full to thicken and caramelise the sauce. The amount of base gravy you add and how long you cook for will depend on whether you are making a dry or sauce based curry.