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Bhuna Masala (Indian curry paste)

  • Author: Sheenam
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 45
  • Yield: 2 cups of bhuna masala (Indian curry paste) 1x
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Traditional and authentic north Indian (Punjabi) style Bhuna Masala or Indian red curry masala paste - the perfect base for any Indian curry recipe.


  • 300 grams onions
  • 630 grams tomatoes
  • 2 medium green chillies
  • 2 tbsp ginger (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp garlic (chopped)
  • 100 grams ghee (1/2 cup) [you can use oil as well] *Note 1
  • 3 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 2-3 tsp salt 
  • 1 1/2 tsp chilli powder


  1. Roughly chop the onions and transfer to a blender.
  2. Add green chillies, ginger and garlic.
  3. Blend/ mix until a smooth paste is formed and transfer to a bowl, keep aside.
  4. Add tomatoes to the empty blender/ mixer and mix until a smooth puree is formed. Transfer to a bowl to be used later.
  5. In a wok, add 1/4 cup of ghee (50 grams) and let heat for a few seconds
  6. Add onion mixture (pureed onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic) and let cook on medium flame for 5-7 minutes until the mixture just begins to change its colour and thickens. Keep stirring vigorously throughout.
  7. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of ghee and mix for 3-4 additional minutes stirring consistently. At this point the mixture would have turned light brown in colour.
  8. Add the tomato puree when the additional ghee is fully mixed with the onion paste.
  9. Cover and let cook on medium flame for 8-10 minutes.
  10. Now add the spices: turmeric, salt, chilli powder and turn the flame to high.
  11. Let the mixture cook for 10-12 more minutes on high flame (no need to cover) - rather vigorously stirring the onion and tomato paste throughout.
  12. By this time, the mixture will start releasing oil from the edges, start sticking to the bottom of the wok and turn into a dark red paste. 
  13. Turn off the flame, transfer to a bowl and use it for your curries.


  1. This recipe is vegetarian but can be made vegan by replacing ghee with vegetable oil.
  2. Serving size: Good enough for 2 Indian curries of large serving: 3-4 people each
  3. Uses: Use this red Indian curry paste in this recipe for Rajma (Indian red kidney beans curry) or this delicious chickpea chana masala coconut curry => 2 of my favorite ways to use homemade Indian curry paste. Serve it with yummy homemade cumin rice
  4. Storage: Air tight containers is what we store ours in, or even small jars.
  5. How to thaw/ re-heat: Place the frozen curry paste on the kitchen counter for about 30 minutes, and then you're good to go and use it in curries or gravy recipes.

Keywords: vegetarian, basics, indian, north indian, curry

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