Sauces, Bases & Spices!

Dal Base
Indian Gravy (Sauce)

King Masala Spice Mix

Dal Base

IndiaIndia: Alongside starchy roti, rice and nan there would be a small portion of dal. Since these little guys were the only fiber contributing section of our thali plates, I thought it was worth giving attention to a basic dal recipe. Let this base template serve as inspiration for dozens of legume creations!




2 cups dal, rinsed

Dal Base:

2 Tbs soy (or vegetable) oil
2 tsp cumin seeds

5 cloves peeled garlic, minced
2” peeled ginger, minced

3 yellow or red onions, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped

1 liter water, boiled

½ – 1 tsp salt to taste
1 tsp kitchen king masala
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric powder

Cook lentils as you normally do. If using a saucepan, add 2:1 water to lentils. Bring to boil and simmer 20-30 minutes uncovered or until lentils are mashable on the roof of your mouth using just your tongue. Salt only at the end of cooking. If using a pressure cooker, bring pressure cooker up to pressure twice before removing from heat and setting aside.

Dal Base:
Over medium-high heat, add soy oil to large saucepan. Add cumin seeds and fry until seeds are just popping and fragrant. Add garlic and ginger. Stir 5 minutes until garlic and ginger are lightly browned. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add tomatos, stirring gently over medium-high heat. This serves as the basic recipe for all dal recipes.

Putting it all together:
Add 1 liter boiled water to saucepan containing the dal base. Add salt, spices and cooked lentils (dal) and stir until thoroughly combined and heat completely.

Time: 25 minutes (using pressure cooker)
Yields: 4 generous 1 ½ cup servings
Suggested Serving: Serve immediately with brown cashew spring onion rice, whole wheat chapatti or for a gluten-free alternative, chickpea papad.
For a spicer version, add chili powder. For a thicker version to be served as a chapatti filling add half the amount of water and simmer until thick. A thin version can be served with white rice.

Indian Gravy


India: Nearly every vegetable dish was served up in “Indian Gravy.” While this American chick typically only uses that word towards the end of November, I quickly asked questions so I could figure out what was in the mysterious but surprisingly delicious gravy. This gravy is to Indian as mirepoix is to French cuisine, if that helps.


1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp masala mix (See Notes)
2 tomatoes, died
5-6 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS freshly grated ginger


Heat oil in pan. Add all ingredients and sauté 5 minutes. Can refrigerate up to 3 days.

Serving Suggestion: Use as the base for mixed vegetable dishes, paneer curries, or aloo ghobi.

King Masala Mix

IndiaIndia: One restaurant and home pantry staple in every kitchen in India (north and south) was King Masala Spice.


The ingredients on the box read:

coriander, cumin, turmeric, black pepper, garlic, dry ginger, mace, cardamom, cardamom seed, Bengal gram, black gram, nutmeg, fenugreek, poppy seed, chili, cassia, clove, caraway, anistar, dry fenugreek leaf, common salt, asafetida, mustard and black cardamom.


Your guess as far as ratios is as good as mine. My best tip, throw them all in a bowl, mix them up and transfer to spice jar and add whenever you want to drop a hint of Indian into any dish!


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