Most Indian dishes that include a gravy have certain ingredients in common--such as garlic and ginger pastes, coriander and cumin powders and turmeric--and are made from a masala, a mix of these spices blended into a paste. So preparing and storing a gravy when you have some spare time is a great idea and makes dinner a cinch on a busy weeknight--when you are ready to cook, all you need to do is add the meat or vegetable to the gravy and cook through.
This basic masala is the necessary blend for several Indian dishes, including chicken tikka masala, as well as chicken curry and methi mutton curry, to just name a few. This recipe makes enough gravy for a single dish, but feel free to double and freeze for later use. You can also make a thinner gravy using thinly sliced onions and tomatoes (instead of grinding them into a paste).
- Grind the onion and tomato together in a food processor until you get a smooth paste. Add water if it is too thick and not processing well, but try not to add too much water while grinding.
- Heat the cooking oil in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the paste you just prepared. Fry for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and ginger pastes and fry for 2 more minutes. Add the powdered spices and fry until the oil begins to separate from the masala.
- Turn off the heat and allow the paste to cool completely (if you're not using it immediately). Put into a container with a tight-fitting lid, label container with date and freeze.