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

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!

Comments 19 comments

rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 5 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.

steveamy profile image

steveamy 5 years ago from Florida

Will be trying this soon....

eye say profile image

eye say 5 years ago from Canada

thank you!!!!

puter_dr profile image

puter_dr 5 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.

medor profile image

medor 5 years ago from Michigan, USA

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

Daniella Lopez profile image

Daniella Lopez 5 years ago from Arkansas

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

Andy from Guildford 3 years ago

Looks great, tastes great, I added a little salt to bring out the flavour of the tomatoes. Thanks for waiting for the next one. 2 years ago

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

Craigy 2 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.

Pete 2 years ago

Came out far too sweet :(

Jim 2 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

brea 2 years ago

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

leedsdale 2 years ago

just cooked this and mmmmmmmmmmm yummy scrummy :)

Ryan 23 months ago

No salt?

Ryan 23 months ago

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

kaapo 20 months ago

For how many person this recepie is

Lou 5 weeks 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.

Barbara 5 weeks 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 !

Lou 5 weeks ago

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

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