Roasted Onion Paste for Curries

Onion masala paste, masala paste for curries, onion tomato paste, curries, kitchen basics, blogging marathon

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Today’s recipe is one of the pastes that were once a must in my kitchen, along with ginger garlic paste. I always stocked up my refrigerator and the freezer with roasted onion paste, and did not like cooking curries without it. This paste can be used both in gravy and dry curries that required masala.

Onion masala paste, masala paste for curries, onion tomato paste, curries, kitchen basics, blogging marathon

Non-veg curries are a must in my house and with this paste, cooking was a breeze. I use it in shorva, pulusu (tamarind based gravy curry) and in seafood dry curries. This paste can also be used in vegetable curries. I like the taste of the gravies when the onion is roasted and then ground to paste than grinding the raw onion and then sautéing it in oil. Moreover, using this paste cuts down the cooking time of the curry.

Onion masala paste, masala paste for curries, onion tomato paste, curries, kitchen basics, blogging marathon

One of U’s aunts makes this paste, freezes it in to cubes in an ice tray and, uses it as and when required. Few years ago after visiting this aunt, athamma (mother-in-law) gave me this idea. Ever since, I have been making it. But in the last year and half, we have cut down on non-veg curries and are eating more grilled meats and seafood, and I gradually stopped stocking up this paste.

Onion masala paste, masala paste for curries, onion tomato paste, curries, kitchen basics, blogging marathon

I make the onion paste by roasting chopped onion in oil and then grinding it to a paste. I also throw in all the spices that I usually use in my cooking when sautéing the onions. This paste is a good base for any curry and I like the texture of the gravies with this paste than when prepared without the paste. Also, it can be used as a quick fix to thicken the gravies. Paste stays fresh for at least a week in the refrigerator.

Onion masala paste, masala paste for curries, onion tomato paste, curries, kitchen basics, blogging marathon

Preparation: 10-15 minutes plus time to cool the onion mixture


  • 1 ½ tbsp. Oil
  • 1 large Onion chopped or 2 cups chopped Onion
  • 1 tsp. Cumin Seeds
  • ½ – 1 tsp. Methi ~ Fenugreek Seeds (I used 1 tsp.)
  • 2- 4 Cloves
  • 4 Cardamoms (I usually use only the seeds but this time I used it as it is)
  • ½ “Cinnamon Stick
  • 4 Garlic Cloves or 1 tbsp. Chopped/sliced Garlic Cloves (opt.)
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • Turmeric
  • ¾ medium Tomatoes or ¾ – 1 cup chopped Tomato


  1. Grind cumin, methi, cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon to a powder. This step can be skipped if using an Indian blender or a powerful blender that can grind the spices to a paste along with the onions.
  2. Take a pan and heat oil.
  3. If using spice powder, skip this step. I skipped this step as I was using a spice powder. Add cumin, methi, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and let the spices roast for few seconds. If following this step, skip step 5.
  4. Add onions and sauté until light brown. This would take about 5 minutes.
  5. If using spice powder, add the powder and mix well. Saute for few seconds. Reduce the heat if the spices burn.
  6. Add garlic, salt turmeric and sauté for a minute or two.
  7. Add tomatoes and cook for another two minutes until the tomatoes are mushy. If required reduce the flame to medium – medium high to avoid burning of the mixture.
  8. Continue cooking the mixture for another 2-3 minutes until all the moisture is gone and the mixture is nicely roasted.
    Let the mixture cool and grind to a fine paste. Add water if required, to make the paste. I used about ½ cup of water to make the paste.
  9. Store in a glass or plastic container and refrigerate. It stays fresh for at least a week. If freezing, it can be frozen in an ice tray. Once the paste freezes, remove from the tray and store in a freezer bag. These cubes can be directly added to the curry or can be thawed in the microwave by heating it for 30-60 seconds.
  10. I usually freeze the paste in small container. When needed, the paste can be microwaved for a minute to thaw and used in the curry. But what I usually do is, leave it out on the countertop for an hour OR keep it in the fridge the night before to thaw the paste. Once thawed, this paste stays fresh for at least 2-4 days in the fridge. There are times when I have stored it in the fridge for up to a week after thawing it.

How to use the paste:

  • When cooking the curry, add this paste after sautéing onions and ginger garlic paste. Or can add it along with ginger garlic paste. Depending on the quantity of the curry, use 1 – 2 tbsp of the paste.


  • The spices that go into this paste are subjective to once preference. For convenience, I also add the whole garam masala to the paste mixture and this way I do not have to prepare garam masala powder separately.
  • I sometimes use tomato and sometimes I do not, depending on my mood. If not using the tomato, adjust the spices accordingly or use less whole garam masala for the paste.
  • Freezing tip: If freezing the paste in a container, do not fill more than up to 2/3 – ¾ of the container. Food tends to expand & increase in volume once frozen. Always leave at least ¼th of the container empty, giving the good enough room expand when frozen.

Recipes I posted this month in 2009, in 2010, in 2011 and in 2012.
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Events: This goes to Vardhini’s Basics, Tips & Tricks

13 thoughts on “Roasted Onion Paste for Curries

    1. I don’t use any other spices, Valli. Just to lazy to make separate garam masala powder, so add everything in this paste itself.

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