Punjabi Tomato-Onion Masala (Mum in Law’s recipe)

Love a good Punjabi Curry? Who doesn’t !! Tried to make some at home? But it never turns out the same? That is because the flavour lies in the masala base. (spice paste base)
Here is my Mum in Law’s Punjabi Tomato-Onion Masala recipe.  This is a slow cook recipe. 

Punjabi Tomato-Onion Masala
Punjabi Tomato-Onion Masala

The Punjabi Tomato-Onion masala forms a spice base for most of the Punjabi curries. However I use it in a lot of semi dry vegetable dishes as well. My Mum in Law cooks it over low flame for about 1-1.5 hours till the tomato and onion sweat out. The flavour is unbeatable and simply incredible. 

The ingredients that you need for this dish are :

  • 2 tablespoon oil (olive/ vegetable oil/ ghee)
  • 2 medium sized onions- roughly chopped
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes- roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoon diced tomato from a can/ 1 tablespoon tomato paste 
  • 1 teaspoon ginger minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic minced
  • 1.5 teaspoon red chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves(kasoori methi)

Please note that this is a picture heavy post. This is to make it easy to follow the different stages of the cooking process. 

The Method of Preparation:

  • Take a non-stick wok (kadhai). Keep it on low flame. Now add oil. Once its heated add the chopped onions. This is Stage 1 Onions. 
  • The onions have 5 stages in its cooking process.

Stage 1 - Onions added to Kadhai

The best part about this recipe is that since it is a slow cook recipe which means that you can do other chores while this is cooking. You do not have to stir this every minute. 

Stage 2 Onions – after 5-7 minutes of slow cooking onions should look like this below.

Stage 2 Onions- 5-7 minutes on slow flame
Stage 2 Onions- 5-7 minutes on slow flame

Stage 3 Onions after about 10 more minutes the onions should look like this. Stir them once. Add salt and mix once more. 

Stage 3 Onions - start to turn pink
Stage 3 Onions – start to turn pink

Stage 4 Onions another 10 minutes and the onions should start to turn brownish. Stir them once.  

Stage 4 Onions - turning slightly brownish
Stage 4 Onions – turning slightly brownish

Stage 5 Onions about another 10 minutes later, the onions should look like this. They would have reduced to almost half in quantity and shrunk a fair bit. Stir them once. The onions are now cooked.

Stage 5 Onions- Final Onion stage.
Stage 5 Onions- Final Onion stage.
  • Now its time to add the fresh chopped tomatoes. There are 5 stages of tomato cooking process. This is Stage 1 Tomatoes.
Tomato Stage 1- adding fresh tomatoes to the kadhai
Tomato Stage 1- adding fresh tomatoes to the kadhai

Stage 2 Tomatoes After about 10 mins on low flame the tomato onion mix should look like this. 

Stage 2 Tomatoes - Tomatoes soft yet pulpy
Stage 2 Tomatoes – Tomatoes soft yet pulpy

Stage 3 Tomatoes – After 10 more minutes check on the tomatoes and you will notice they have reduced in quantity.

Stage 3 Tomatoes - tomatoes have reduced in quantity
Stage 3 Tomatoes – tomatoes have reduced in quantity

Stage 4 Tomatoes – Let it cook on low flame for 10 more minutes and it would start leaving oil from the sides. At this stage add the diced tomatoes / tomato paste. Mix well and let it cook.

Stage 4 Tomatoes -Tomatoes leaving oil from the sides . Add diced tomatoes
Stage 4 Tomatoes -Tomatoes leaving oil from the sides . Add diced tomatoes

Adding diced tomatoes is my twist to my Mum in Law’s recipe. This helps giving the paste a deep red colour. Which helps add to the visual factor of any curry that you would make using this Punjabi Tomato-Onion Masala. 

Stage 5 Tomatoes Cook the tomato onion mix for 10 more minutes and the mix will be fully cooked. It will leave oil from the sides and you can see the gorgeous red colour. Its time to add the spice powders, kasoori methi and ginger garlic paste(minced) and a pinch of salt. 

Stage 5 tomatoes - time to add the spice powders and minced ginger and garlic
Stage 5 tomatoes – time to add the spice powders and minced ginger and garlic

Mix well and let it cook for 5 more minutes. Your Punjabi Tomato-Onion Masala is now ready. You can store it in an air tight container and refrigerate it for about 8-10 days.

Punjabi Tomato-Onion Masala
Punjabi Tomato-Onion Masala

Do let me know if you make this spice base at home. 
Don’t forget to drop me a line or two in the comments below. Would love to hear from you. Have a great week ahead.

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