3 minutes

BIR (British Indian Restaurant) Base Gravy

British Indian Restaurant (BIR) curries have a unique taste and style different from traditional Indian curries. One of the secrets to their distinct flavour and quick serving times is a pre-made base gravy or sauce. This base sauce is versatile and can be used to make a variety of BIR-style curries, such as Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Korma, or Chicken Madras.

Here's a simple recipe for making a BIR-style base sauce:


  1. 1 kg onions, finely sliced
  2. 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  3. 1-inch piece of ginger, minced
  4. 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
  5. 2-3 medium-sized tomatoes, pureed
  6. 2-3 green bell peppers, finely chopped
  7. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  8. 1 teaspoon paprika or Kashmiri chilli powder (for colour)
  9. 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  10. 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  11. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  12. Salt, to taste
  13. 1 litre of water (or chicken stock for added flavour)


  1. Sauté the Aromatics: In a large pot or saucepan, heat the oil or ghee over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and allow them to splutter. Then, add the finely sliced onions. Sauté the onions until soft, translucent, and lightly golden brown.

  2. Add Ginger and Garlic: Add the minced ginger and garlic to the onions and sauté for another 2-3 minutes until the raw smell disappears.

  3. Add Dry Spices: Sprinkle in the turmeric powder, paprika or Kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, and salt. Mix well to ensure the spices coat the onions, ginger, and garlic evenly.

  4. Tomato Puree: Pour in the tomato puree and mix. Let it cook for 5-7 minutes, allowing the tomatoes to integrate with the spices and onions.

  5. Add Bell Peppers: Stir in the chopped green bell peppers.

  6. Water/Stock: Add the water or chicken stock to the pot. Could you increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil? Once boiling, reduce the heat, cover, and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes.

  7. Blend: After simmering, turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool slightly. Then, using an immersion blender or a regular blender, blend the sauce until it's smooth. If you're using a regular blender, you should do this in batches.

  8. Final Touches: Return the blended sauce to the pot. Add garam masala and adjust the salt if necessary. Heat the sauce for another 5-7 minutes.

  9. Storage: Allow the sauce to cool completely. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or frozen in batches for future use.

When you're ready to make a curry, heat some oil or ghee in a pan, add your choice of meat or vegetables, stir in the base sauce, add spices as required, and simmer until cooked. This BIR-style base sauce speeds up the curry-making process and ensures a consistent and delicious flavour every time.