As the cold nights of October loom ahead, I can’t help but look forward to warming food served hot from the oven in steaming bowls of comfort. When you slow cook food in an oven, the rich scent of dinner wafts from the kitchen as it cooks, filling the house with a familiar scent that will warm your heart. As this curry sauce cooks, the aroma of spices draws me in, teasing the delicious dinner ahead, tempting me to just have a quick taste, to see how it’s getting on… Like most one-pot cooking, curry sauce is often best after a few hours gently slow cooking in a low oven, the length of cooking time allowing the flavours to muddle together and intensify, creating a thick, satisfying sauce.
This recipe is taken from mum’s curry sauce, which was inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe. She made it her own with her own spice blend and an amended cooking method, gradually tweaked over weeks and months of cooking it, to get the best possible result. It was one of my absolute favourite dinners at home with my parents, and I’d have eaten it every day if possible (I probably still would!) So it made complete sense that when I went off to study at university, the recipe came too. And then I made my own changes, cooking it to my taste, (and often to the ingredients available: no onions? No problem, I have a leek…). Post university, the slightly more expensive ingredients fed back into the recipe again, until I finally arrived at the version I’ve shared below. It feels like it’s been through a real journey and is a perfect one to share on my blog.
Note – I use an oven, but this curry sauce recipe would also work really well in a slow cooker. Where the recipe says to bake in the oven, simply add the ingredients to your slow cooker, and let it work its magic – what a wonderful thing to come home to after a long day at work!
Preparing and cooking this sauce is a real process, and while it does take a while to make it, it’s absolutely worth the time you’ll put in. I usually cook the curry sauce separately first, adding meat or vegetables to an individual portion afterwards. For me, the other benefit of this recipe is that it is perfect for making curry sauce in large batches, meaning I can freeze portions for a quick and delicious dinner in a few weeks’ time. A lot of effort is invested in cooking the recipe, and I want to make the most of that! I ladle out enough curry sauce to eat for dinner that day, and divide the rest into 2 person portions. The recipe below will make about 5 dinners for 2 people. It freezes extremely well, and possibly even tastes better once it’s defrosted and reheated. There’s something really satisfying about enjoying a comforting homemade curry, knowing that there are more dinners just like it waiting in the freezer for when you need them! As soon as my supply of frozen sauces is used up, I make plans for cooking a new batch. It’s that tasty! Here’s the recipe.
Slow cooked curry sauce recipe
Spices for toasting:
3 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
½ tbsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
For the paste:
10 cloves garlic
5cm fresh ginger
150g jarred roasted peppers
2 fresh red chillies or 1 hot one
bunch fresh coriander
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground fenugreek
2 tsp ground turmeric
4 tbsp groundnut oil
4 tbsp tomato puree
To make the curry sauce:
2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
280ml chicken or vegetable stock
Preheat the oven to 170˚C.
Put the toasting spices into a frying pan and gently toast over a medium heat.
Remove, and crush to a powder in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder.
Chop the paste ingredients roughly, and add to a blender and whizz to a smooth puree.
In a non-stick casserole pan, melt the butter over a medium heat, and fry the spices for a minute, stirring constantly.
Add the curry paste, mix into the spices, and fry until golden.
Add the chopped tomatoes and stock. Bring the sauce to the boil, cover with a lid or foil, and bake in the oven for 1½ – 2 hours.
Remove the sauce from the oven. If it’s a little thick, mix in some water to thin out the sauce. If it’s a bit runny, thicken on the stove without the lid on.
If you’re planning to save some for later, ladle it out into containers now.
To finish the dinner, fry meat or fish, or cook veg and add to the curry sauce pan.
Stir through and simmer until the meat, fish or veg is cooked through, season the sauce to your taste, then serve with rice or naan, and a spoonful of yogurt if you like it. Perfect!