A Step-by-Step Guide to Cooking an Authentic Indian Curry

Updated on January 27, 2015

My Mother's Curry Recipe

Before I explain my recipe for traditional Indian curry, let me introduce myself. I am 21 and studying at University. I am Indian and traditional Indian cooking was a big part of my upbringing. Unlike some students, I hate fast food and love to cook fresh meals everyday. I only realized how much I enjoy cooking once I moved out of my parents home and moved away to study.

A few months before leaving, I asked my mother to teach me a few traditional Indian recipes to get me started. The recipe below is one that she gave me. Like the others, it was passed from generation to generation and has not changed.

In my family's Hindu tradition, we do not eat meat, so the recipe I provide below is vegetarian but it is possible to add any meat you choose to this dish. If you would like to be able to prepare a traditional Indian dish, read on!

A Note About Spices

You will notice that I have not included exact quantities for the spices, ginger, or chillies in the ingredients list. This is because Indian cooking is very much based on taste. Start with a small quantity and taste the sauce as it simmers to see if it tastes sufficiently spiced to you.



  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4 or 5 medium-sized fresh garlic cloves
  • Fresh ginger
  • Fresh chilies
  • 4 or 5 cloves
  • Star Anise, whole
  • 2 cans peeled plum tomatoes
  • Garam masala
  • Ground coriander
  • Ground cumin
  • Turmeric powder
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves
  • Fresh lemon
  • A few sticks whole cinnamon
  • Vegetable oil


  1. Start off by peeling and finely dicing the two onions. A tip to avoid tears: Slice the onion in half length-wise, leaving the root uncut. Chop off an inch or so opposite the root. This should prevent the aroma from stinging your eyes. Finely dice the onions.
  2. As an Indian, I love hot food. If you prefer your food mild, use two or three small red or green chilies. Note that the smaller the chillies, the hotter they are. Peel and slightly dice chilies. To decide how much ginger to use, place the ginger root next to the garlic and use slightly more ginger than garlic. Peel the garlic and cut into small chunks. Peel and slightly dice the whole chilies. Place garlic, ginger, and chilies into a blender and mix into a smooth paste.
  3. Drizzle two or three tablespoons of vegetable oil into a pot with cloves, whole star anise, bay leaves, and cinnamon. Once the cloves begins to lightly crackle, your oil is hot enough to fry the onions. Carefully place onions into the oil and wait for them to brown. The darker the onions are (as long as they are not burned!), the darker your curry will be. A darker curry is more authentic.
  4. Once the onions are ready, turn the heat way down and add 1 or 2 teaspoons of garlic, ginger, and chilli paste. Allow this to fry together.
  5. If you are cooking this dish with meat, dice it to desired size and add to the pot. Now add the rest of the garlic paste and slightly fry for 5-6 minutes at a high heat, stirring frequently.
  6. Notice the gorgeous smells that are filling your kitchen. Now it's time to add the tomatoes. Use fresh if you like, but canned tomatoes are much easier.
  7. Time to add the spices. Begin with the coriander and stir the sauce after adding each spice. About 2 or 3 small teaspoons will be enough. Next add 3 or 4 teaspoons of garam masala, 2 or 3 teaspoons of cumin and about 3 teaspoons of turmeric. Remember to stir between each additional spice.
  8. Cover the pot so that a small gap remains and allow the sauce to simmer for 60-90 minutes on a low heat.
  9. Squeeze fresh lemon according to taste and serve with rice, chapatis, or naan bread.

Cook Time

Cook time: 1 hour 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: Serves four

I hope you enjoy the preparation, smells, colours, and tastes of this truly authentic Indian dish!

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image


        8 weeks ago

        Thank you, that worked really well for me, followed your plan exactly, added 400gm diced chicken at the point you suggested and then cooked for 90 mins stirring occasionally so it didn’t stick. Used exactly the spices and quantities you said, ground the spices from seed in a pestle & mortar.

        Really fragrant, light fresh feel and taste, far better than most things I’ve had in UK Indian resaurants.

        It looked like a good recipe and I wasn’t disappointed, I’ll cook it for some friends next.

        Thanks again.

      • profile image


        4 months ago

        I'm so sorry but this was the worst curry. We had to throw it away.

      • profile image


        8 months ago

        Ibrar, maybe you didn’t follow the recipe properly because it doesn’t take that long to cook and it definitely far from a disappointing curry

      • profile image

        Ibrar ali 

        8 months ago

        Just spend nearly 2 hrs making this and it was a very disappointing curry!!!

        Total waste of time

        Avoid !!!

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        8 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        That sound delicious. I might just try this and not always go out to an Indian restaurant when hanker for Indian food.

      • profile image


        9 months ago

        This recipe is absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for posting

      • profile image


        10 months ago

        she, if you read it properly, he states that he is a vegetarian, he says you can add meat if you wish, so i doubt he is going to give you meat quanities

      • profile image


        11 months ago

        So how much lamb do you actually put in? You haven't actually stated how much should go in with the sauce.

      • profile image

        George w 

        12 months ago

        Sounds delicious

        I don't have all the ngredients but have most of them so I'm going to cook this for my sons

        Thank you

      • profile image


        14 months ago

        It's still looking and tasting very much like tomatoes, I've put all the spices in but flavour is very faint, what am I doing wrong?

      • profile image


        16 months ago

        Most tasteful and fragrant curry I've ever made. Thank you very much for posting.



      • profile image


        19 months ago

        This is probably one of the best curries Ive made,cooked it with chicken thighs,the nearest you'll get to restaurant chicken curry,Ive added 2 tsp chilli powder if you like it hot, cracking.!!!!!

      • profile image


        21 months ago

        I know this was done quite a while back now but I want to add potatoes to the dish and just wondered when I should be putting them in please?

        My Dad used to make the most beautiful Indian curries and sadly he passed away before I could ask him to teach me how to make them.

        Any help would be appreciated.

        I am making this tomorrow for the first time and can't wait as it sounds lovely.

        I'm making it with beef and potatoes, my Dad used to make it with cauliflower and that was lovely too.

      • profile image


        23 months ago

        It came out lovely, it tastes beautiful, just needed to add a bit of salt at the end

      • profile image


        23 months ago

        I tried your recipe yesterday , so delicious, full of flavour ... far away the best curry recipe EVER ! Thank you soooo much ! we love it !

      • profile image


        23 months ago

        I've got a pot of it simmering on the stove right now, it's smelling beautiful, I diced fresh tomatoes myself. Hopefully It comes out a nice consistency. Also I diced the onions by hand, but I used a blender for the paste and I added 3 whole chicken breasts diced into fairly small rough cube shapes.

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        For how many person this recepie is

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        I used canned diced tomatoes - didn't come out like a curry... I'm guessing I should have used pureed?

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        No salt?

      • profile image


        3 years ago

        just cooked this and mmmmmmmmmmm yummy scrummy :)

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        thankyou so much, its the best the curry ever :)

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        I just made this dish for the wife and I and found it to be very nice , will be certainly doing it again , yum yum in my tum tum

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        Came out far too sweet :(

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        Thanks a lot for Sharing this recipe, I have often in the past been confused while reading cooking instructions, but you explained it so well, that it is a simply understood, will be 100% trying this dish!! Thank you Craig.

      • profile image


        4 years ago

        One of the best curries I have ever made, absolutely superb.

      • profile image

        Andy from Guildford 

        4 years ago

        Looks great, tastes great, I added a little salt to bring out the flavour of the tomatoes. Thanks for posting....now waiting for the next one.

      • Daniella Lopez profile image

        Danielle Lopez 

        6 years ago from Spain

        This sounds delicious! I'll have to try it out. Thanks for sharing a family recipe! Voted up. :D

      • medor profile image


        6 years ago from Michigan, USA

        you are making me so hungry... love the photos and the step by step instructions... thanks...

      • puter_dr profile image

        Mike Bouska 

        6 years ago from Midwest USA

        I will have to give this a shot. An Indian grocery recently opened in our city, so the spices should now be available.

      • eye say profile image

        eye say 

        6 years ago from Canada

        thank you!!!!

      • steveamy profile image


        6 years ago from Florida

        Will be trying this soon....

      • rjsadowski profile image


        6 years ago

        I love authentic recipes and Indian cooking Facinates me because of the many spices that are blended and used. I hopre to hear more recipes from you.


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