Al’s Curry Base Gravy

I have suffered a revelation. There is a whole cookery world out there that I didn’t know existed. It concerns Indian/Bangladeshi curries, which I love.

I’ve dabbled with Indian cookery recipes in the past and, I must say, with some success. There’s a BUT – no matter how many cookery books one tries, the recipes, fine though they are, never seem to resemble anything from the local Indian restaurants.

Enter the so-called BIR Base Gravy. “BIR?”, I hear you ask. BIR = British Indian Restaurant.

Your favourite restaurateurs slave away turning out a myriad different curry dishes by tarting up a generic, moderately bland curry sauce, the base gravy, with selected specific additions. They’ll even pre-cook your chicken in the base gravy before tarting it up to your liking.

The light has been swiched on. The Al in the title is a YouTuber with a channel called Al’s Kitchen. I’ve just got to give this a go. It’s a daunting list of ingredients but this makes about 4 litres of base gravy which will keep you going a while – you can freeze it in reasonable portions.


serves: n/a
preparation time: 30 mins
cooking time: 2 hrs


  • 1kg white onions, peeled & quartered
  • 1 small carrot, peeled & chunked
  • ½ red pepper, seeded
  • 100g white cabbage
  • 1 medium potato
  • 40g red lentils
  • 1 green chilli, halved
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 50g block creamed coconut
  • 125ml sweetend condensed milk
  • 50g garlic, peeled
  • 50g fresh ginger, peeled & chunked
  • 1 tbs tomato purée
  • 2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground paprika
  • 2 tsp tandoori masala powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30g fresh coriander (inc. stalks)
  • 1 batch of Akhni Stock


There’s no subtlety here, just chuck everything in a very large casserole and add water up to the top of the ingredients. Bring it to a gentle simmer and cook for an hour.

While that’s happening, strain your batch of Akhni Stock into the pot as well.

Now you really need a stick blender. Remove the pot from the heat and blitz the hell out of everything being careful not to redecorate the kitchen walls and ceiling. Get it aa amooth as you can.

Return it to the heat and continue simmering for another hour, when the oil should separate out on top – just stir it back in.

Lastly – if it’s anything like mine it’ll be too thick – thin it down using water until you get a milk-like consistency before using it in a BIR curry.

Get a pdf version of this recipe.

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