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(Experiment 197) Kerala sauce

This is a recipe I have learned while taking Indian kitchen cooking classes several years ago. I think it’s one if not my favorite Indian sauce. You can make it very mild or super hot and all of the spices combine just burst in your mouth!

Note: you must prepare everything in advance as the sauce itself is very fast to do but preparation will take you 10-15 mins.

You  need :

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp    fenugreek
  • 10-15 fresh cari leaf ( tough to get my hands on those so I just skip)
  • 1 minced onion
  • 2 minced garlic clove
  • 1tsp minced ginger
  • 1-2 peppers ( Thai or whatever you like, I’d recommend starting with 1, if you don’t like heat, skip this )
  • 2tsp tomato paste
  • 2/3cup coconut milk* ( don’t take light version)
  • pinch salt
  • 1cup water

*If you buy coconut milk in a traditional grocery, good chance is their stock is old because they don’t sell tons of it. To test if it’s fresh, shake the can. If you feel it’s liquid right off, it’s likely fresh. If it feels like a brick, don’t buy it.


  • 4 tsp       ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp    paprika ( don’t use smoked one)
  • 1/2 tsp    cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp    fresh ground pepper

Mix all the masala ingredients together in a bowl


  1. In a hot oiled pan ( medium heat) add mustard seed, fenugreek & cari leaf. When the mustard seed starts “popping” add the onion and mix. Keep cooking+mixing for 1-2minutes
  2. When the onions are colored ( they are beginning to become transparent) add garlic, ginger & pepper. Mix and cook for a minute
  3. Add tomato paste + masala and mix well for another minute
  4. Add 1/2 cup coconut milk + 1 cup of water. 
  5. Add salt and let simmer for 10 minutes. If you want to add uncooked vegetables add them after 5 minutes.
  6. Add your uncooked shrimp or cooked chicken slice or tofu and let simmer for 2-3 minutes – Just so everything absorbs the fragrance
  7. Adjust to taste with the leftover coconut milk ( the more you add the milder it will get )
  8. Adjust with pepper & salt

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