Books by Richard Sayce
BIR Base Gravy Mark II Recipe:
Here we have an alternative to the Misty Ricardo (mark I) base gravy. This one has a savoury feel to it, as it’s more refined and has a touch more of a ‘grown up’ flavour. It has a little less sweetness due to the omission of carrot and coconut, but adds two new vegetables to the pot: celery and white cabbage. Both of these add a pleasant piquancy and provide a nice contrast to the sweetness of onions.
Cassia bark (or cinnamon powder) is given the chance to play a minor supporting role – an extra that’s not especially noticeable except by its absence. NOTE: Don’t forget to remove the cassia bark before blending the base.
Key to this base is the use of my new bassar mix powder. One of the components of this new mix is bassar curry powder, a commercially available Pakistani spice blend which has a heavier proportion of pungent spices than mild madras curry powder, not least amongst which is chilli powder.
This recipe will make enough base gravy for up to 16 single recipe portion curries.
NOTE: Before using the base gravy to make a curry, it should be thinned down with
water to the approximate consistency of semi-skimmed milk. The amount stated in the recipes is for the diluted version. Heat the base gravy up before making a curry with it to avoid impairing the cooking process.
STAGE 1 – INGREDIENTS
- 200ml Oil
- 1½kg Brown Onions, peeled and roughly chopped (unpeeled weight). Peeled weight approx. 1¼kg
- ½ Green Pepper, chopped
- 100g Celery, chopped (approximately 2 long sticks)
STAGE 2 – INGREDIENTS
- 2 TBSP Bassar Mix Powder
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- ½ tsp Garam Masala
- 5cm Cassia Bark or ¼-½ tsp Cinnamon Powder (optional)
- 120g White Cabbage, chopped (approximately ¼ of a small-medium sized one)
- 100g Potato, roughly chopped (peeled weight)
- 80g Ginger/Garlic Paste
- 1½ tsp Salt
- 160g Tomato Purée (double concentrated, good quality)
- 2 Litres Water
- 40g fresh Coriander Stalks, chopped (optional)
STAGE 1 – METHOD
- Add the oil to a large pan (minimum 5 litres capacity) and heat to medium.
- Add the onions, celery, white cabbage, green pepper, potato, ginger/garlic paste, and salt.
- Fry for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Cover and turn down heat to very low to achieve a gentle simmer.
- Cook for one hour or until the onions soften fully, taking on a melted appearance and releasing a soft, sweet, delicious smell. Stir occasionally.
STAGE 2 – METHOD
- Turn the heat up to medium and add the bassar mix powder, turmeric, and garam masala. Also add the optional cassia bark or cinnamon powder, if using.
- Cook for 1 minute whilst stirring, then add the tomato purée, and water. Stir well.
- Bring to the boil, then cover, turn the heat down to low, and gently simmer for 1 hour, stirring very occasionally.
- Optional: add the coriander stalks a few minutes before the end of the hour.
- Turn the heat off and allow the gravy to cool a little.
- Remove the cassia bark (if using).
STAGE 3 – METHOD
- Blend until very smooth. I prefer to use a stick blender.
- Bring back up to boil, and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Stir together and blend again if you see any lumps.
- The base gravy will be quite thick when you have finished making it. It’s unlikely you will be using it all at once, so it’s best to refrigerate or freeze what you aren’t using. I freeze mine in its thickened state in plastic food containers and defrost when needed.
- If using cassia bark please remember to retrieve it from the pan before blending, or the base gravy will be overpowered with the taste of cinnamon.
- The base gravy should be quite thin when cooking a BIR curry. Dilute it with water to get a consistency of semi-skimmed milk, and always heat it up before using it to avoid slowing the curry cooking process and impeding the flavour.
- You can make smaller or larger amounts of base gravy by simply scaling this recipe down or up.
- Remember that all spoon measurements are level unless otherwise specified. 1 tsp = 5ml, 1 TBSP = 15ml.