Base Sauce Recipe

How to create a base sauce

The key to BIR cooking is a style of cooking developed for the British market to satisfy the British taste and to enable the chefs to produce finished dishes from a chicken tikka masala to a vindaloo at speed.

There are many recipes for a base but basically, they are a vegetable stock that is heavy on onions and used to produce the sauce or gravy in curry.

Restaurants hold a large stock of their base and always have a large pot simmering away on the cooker ready to spring into action to cover a busy service.

People are often surprised that the same base is used to create such wildly different dishes but the different flavours, and textures come from the other ingredients added when cooking the final dish.

Although I have listed this as a simple base sauce (which it is to make) it does require a little time to cook properly. Don't be tempted to hurry this process up, If you do the texture will not produce the silky smooth sauce required. Its, for this reason, I tend to cook the sauce in large batches and freeze what is not required.


Enough for 8 – 10 curries

250ml vegetable oil
2lb of onions
1 medium-sized bulb of fresh garlic
1 Green or Red Pepper
1 tablespoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Cumin powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
3 teaspoon Mix powder
1 teaspoon salt.
1 tablespoon of tomato purée or a can of chopped tomatoes 


Peel and roughly chop the onions, garlic and pepper and place in a large cooking pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.
Keep a lid on your pot to keep the water from evaporating and simmer for about 2 hours string occasionally. If the water level drops below the surface of the onions top up with more water.
After 2 hours the onions should be really soft and the water has gone a milky colour.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a further 30 minutes.
Blend this mixture until perfectly smooth and about the consistency of tomato soup (if too thick reduce with water)
Simmer again for about 30 minutes and if it thickens add more water.

This mixture can be frozen into tubs ready for whenever you fancy a quick curry so always cook in large batches