Basic Tomato Sauce Indian Style

Basic tomato sauce, called “Masala”, is a versatile sauce that can be used for making Indian style beans and vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, peas, cabbage, egg plant and green beans. There are many different ways to make it. I like using onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes with some of my favorite spices turmeric, cumin and garam masala.


Wine ripe tomatoes are best for this recipe, however you can use any other varieties that are fresh and in season.

Heat up some ghee or coconut oil and add cumin seeds. Let it cook for 10 seconds or so, until it gives out lovely cumin aroma. Add chopped onions and cook for about 10-12 minutes.


Add minced garlic and ginger.


Stir to mix them and cook for 2-3 minutes.


I love smell of garlic and ginger.


Now its time to add turmeric, roasted ground cumin and garam masala. You can also add ground coriander if on hand (see links below to prep all the spices at home). Add red pepper flakes if you like it spicy.


Stir and cook for another minute. The spices make it smell so yummy!


Add chopped tomatoes.


Stir to coat them well with onions and spices. Cover and cook for another 6-8 minutes or until tomatoes are cooked.


Look at the color! Basic tomato sauce is ready.


You can add any cooked beans pinto, garbanzo, kidney beans or cooked lentils brown lentils, split peas, red lentils etc. Or you can add vegetables that taste good with tomatoes like cauliflower, cabbage, potatoes, green beans, egg plant… use your imagination 🙂


Here is the recipe.

Basic Tomato Sauce Indian Style

PREP TIME: 10 minutes     COOK TIME: 20 minutes

YIELD: 2 – 2 1/2 cups, Good for 4-6 cups of cooked beans, or 2 heads of cauliflower


  • 3 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 large onion or 2 medium size onion (red or yellow onion), finely chopped
  • 6-10 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, minced or grated
  • 5-6 (1.5 LB) tomatoes





  1. Heat up ghee or coconut oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
  2. Add cumin seeds and let it cook for 8-10 seconds, until it gives off the aroma.
  3. Add chopped onions and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add minced garlic and ginger, stir to mix with onions and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add rest of the spices turmeric, roasted ground cumin, garam masala, red pepper & coriander if using.
  6. Stir and cook for another minute or so, until you can smell the fragrance of spices.
  7. Now its time to add chopped tomatoes. Stir them to coat well with onion and spices.
  8. Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes or until tomatoes are done.
  9. Basic tomato sauce is ready to be used with beans or vegetables.
  10. The sauce will be good for 3-4 days refrigerated. You can also freeze them divided in small portions.


Check out the blog for making cauliflower Indian style using the basic sauce.


Check out the blog for making Beans using the basic tomato sauce




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