Curry powder is a versatile spice blend that can be used to add flavor to many dishes. With just a few basic ingredients, you can use curry powder to make a delicious curry sauce.
This sauce can then be served with meats, vegetables, rice, and more. Making your own curry sauce from scratch allows you to control the ingredients and spice level.
Follow the simple steps below to learn how to make curry sauce from curry powder.
Choose Your Curry Powder
The first step in making curry sauce is to choose a good quality curry powder. Curry powder contains a blend of spices like coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, chili peppers, peppercorn, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. Different brands will have varying spice blends, so try a few to find your favorite flavor profile.
Some key types of curry powder include:
- Madras curry powder - This has a bold, spicy flavor thanks to the inclusion of chili peppers. It provides a reddish color.
- Yellow curry powder - This is a milder, sweeter curry powder without much heat. Turmeric gives it a yellow hue.
- Garam masala - This blend contains warm, aromatic spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. It makes a good addition to mellow-out heat.
No matter which you choose, start with about 1-3 tablespoons of curry powder per batch of curry sauce. You can adjust to taste later on. Store curry powder in an airtight container away from light.
Sauté Aromatic Veggies
The next step is to build a flavorful base for your curry sauce by sautéing aromatic vegetables. Onions are the most common choice, providing a sweet, savory depth. Here are some tips:
- Finely dice 1 large onion. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook.
- Heat 1-2 tbsp oil or ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Clarified butter (ghee) is traditionally used in Indian cooking.
- Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, until softened and starting to brown. Let them cook longer for deeper flavor.
- Stir in minced garlic and ginger in the last 1-2 minutes for more aroma. Grate about 1 tbsp each.
- Sauté any other vegetables like diced carrots or bell peppers along with the onions.
Bloom the Spices
Once your onion base is ready, it's time to bloom the spices. This means cooking them briefly to intensify their flavors.
- Stir the curry powder into the cooked onions. Mix well to coat.
- Cook for 1 minute to lightly toast the spices. They will become fragrant.
- You can add other spices like garam masala, cumin, coriander, etc.
- Add a pinch of chili powder or cayenne if you want some heat.
Blooming the spices in oil helps develop their essential oils and aromatics. This adds complexity to your curry sauce.
Add Liquid and Simmer
The next step is to add liquid to the vegetable and spice mixture to create the body of the curry sauce.
- Tomatoes are commonly used, either crushed canned or diced fresh. Cook into a paste.
- Coconut milk brings creamy richness as well as Thai/Indian flair. Use full-fat milk.
- Chicken or vegetable broth makes a well-rounded foundation of flavor.
- Water can be used to thin the sauce to the desired consistency.
- Yogurt or cream lends tang and luxuriousness when stirred in later on.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it bubble for 5-10 minutes to meld flavors.
- Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning on the bottom.
- Reduce to desired thickness - the sauce will thicken more upon standing.
Finish and Season
The final step is to adjust the seasoning and finish the sauce to perfection.
- Stir in cream or yogurt at the end, just until smooth. Remove from heat so it doesn't curdle.
- Add lemon juice for brightness. Start with 1 tbsp.
- Taste and season with salt, pepper, and spices. The sauce should taste slightly under-seasoned since flavors will concentrate.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro for freshness, color, and aroma right before serving.
- Simmer meats or veggies right in the sauce to infuse with flavor and cook through.
That's all there is to it! With these simple steps, you can easily make delicious curry sauce using curry powder any night of the week. Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste and enjoy this versatile sauce in many dishes.
Serving Suggestions for Curry Sauce
A homemade curry sauce made with curry powder is extremely versatile. Here are some ideas for how to use curry sauce:
Curry with Meat
- Chicken - Use boneless thighs or breasts. Sear and simmer in the sauce.
- Beef - Flank steak or chuck roast works well. Cut into bite-size pieces.
- Lamb - Dice a leg of lamb and cook through in the sauce.
- Pork - Try pork shoulder or loin. Brown first then braise in sauce.
- Seafood - Shrimp, scallops, firm fish. Quickly sauté then simmer.
- Potatoes - Dice small new potatoes. Parboil then simmer.
- Carrots - Shave into ribbons with a peeler. Or dice.
- Cauliflower - Sear florets first for deeper flavor.
- Broccoli, green beans, peas - Briefly sauté then simmer.
- Spinach - Add at end. Wilts quickly.
- Sweet potatoes - Dice small, sauté then simmer.
Other Uses for Curry Sauce
- Toss with roasted or grilled vegetables
- Use as a sauce for fries or chips
- Simmer chickpeas or lentils in curry sauce for a vegetarian dish
- Make a curry soup by thinning sauce with broth
- Marinate and baste meats with spiced curry sauce before grilling
- Use as a flavorful sandwich spread
- Toss with noodles or rice
Get creative with leftovers! Curry sauce enhances both proteins and vegetables.
Curry Sauce Tips
Use these tips to guide you in making the best curry sauce with curry powder:
- Sauté aromatics well - take the time to brown onions, garlic, and ginger for depth of flavor.
- Bloom spices in oil - cook briefly to intensify aroma and flavor.
- Simmer the sauce - this allows flavors to mingle and meld.
- Use full-fat coconut milk - for the richest, creamiest sauce (stir well before using).
- Adjust liquid to reach desired consistency - start with less, you can always add more.
- Season thoughtfully - taste and tweak to enhance flavors.
- Garnish with fresh herbs - cilantro adds brightness and color.
- Store leftovers properly - fridge for 3-5 days or freeze for months.
With these handy tips in mind, you'll be able to make fantastic curry sauce anytime the craving strikes!
How spicy should curry sauce be?
This depends on personal taste! For mild sauce, use yellow curry powder. For medium spice, opt for Madras curry powder. You can always add a pinch of cayenne or chili powder for more heat. Taste as you go when seasoning.
What goes well with curry sauce?
In addition to meats and vegetables, curry sauce tastes fantastic with rice or grains, flatbreads like naan or roti, raita or cooked yogurt, pickles, chutneys, and fresh herbs. Fried onions, toasted nuts or coconut flakes also add nice texture and flavor.
How can I thicken my curry sauce?
If your sauce seems too thin, simmer it longer to reduce and concentrate flavors. You can also stir in a slurry of cornstarch and water at the end. For creamy thickness, whisk in yogurt or coconut milk. Avoid flour as it imparts a starchy flavor.
What if my curry sauce breaks or curdles?
If the yogurt or coconut milk separates, try blending it with an immersion blender. You can also temper the dairy by stirring in a ladle of hot sauce very slowly before adding it to the full pot. Adding dairy at the end of cooking also helps prevent curdling.
How long does curry sauce keep?
Properly stored curry sauce will last 3-5 days refrigerated and 4-6 months frozen. Let cool completely before packing into airtight containers. Frozen sauce may separate upon thawing - simply reheat gently to blend.
With its complex blend of spices and aromatics, curry powder is the perfect way to create a flavorful, hearty curry sauce.
Sautéing the vegetables thoroughly builds a solid flavor base. Blooming the spices and simmering the sauce allows the ingredients to meld deliciously. Finishing with cream or yogurt adds richness while lemon brightens.
This versatile sauce can be served in a variety of dishes, from curries to grilled meats and more. With a few simple tips, you can easily master how to whip up curry sauce using curry powder any night of the week.