Looking for you favorite vegetarian Indian dishes with thick sauces
April 19, 2018 11:35 AM   Subscribe

We love Madhur Jaffrey's Vegetarian India cookbook, but our one complaint: Not enough dishes with thick, flavorful sauces as you might find in an Indian restaurant. What are your most mouth watering, naan-dippingest vegetarian Indian dishes where the veggies/paneer/etc. are floating in a pot of delicious sauce?
posted by coffee and minarets to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
I have made this paneer tikka masala several times to great success. There is always tons of thick sauce BUT in order to have a nice, thick sauce I substitute most/all of the water with extra cream and tomatoes. Also, I don't bother with pureeing it (step 5). Instead I just leave it in the pot and mash with a potato masher so the sauce stays nice and thick.
posted by Polychrome at 11:52 AM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Rogan Josh


Searching online for any of the above types of dishes will yield a variety of recipes using various meats/ veggies.

The key to thick sauces in any type of curry - Thai, Indian, Sri Lankan, Ethiopian - is to cook the dish down so most of the water evaporates. You use thickening agents like tomatoes, yogurt, ground cashews, coconut cream, cream and sauteed onions to thicken the sauce, and cook all that stuff down until it's the consistency you want.

Having grown up watching people cook this type of cuisine tells me the cooking times given in recipes are generally ballpark figures, and you're really able to regulate the consistency of the sauce (medium-low heat, slow cooking, simmering, etc) unless a recipe calls for a quick fry or step where there's no liquid involved. Also bear in mind that veggies and chicken release a lot of water as they cook, so reducing the amount of water called for in a recipe or substituting water with milk or cream or yogurt helps thicken a sauce.

Personally, if I cook a curry that has chicken in it, I'll add tomatoes or yogurt (as called for in a recipe) and less than a quarter of a cup of water to get the dish 'going'. Within minutes, there's water in the pot from the chicken, and that is all the liquid needed to cook the chicken. Tomatoes also release water, so letting much of that cook off is the best way to ensure a thick sauce at the end. Many times you can also remove the meat or veggies from the pot once they're cooked so they're not overcooked, cook the sauce down and put the meat/ veggies back in.
posted by Everydayville at 12:35 PM on April 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Manjula's Kitchen has some awesome recipes.

Her palak paneer is great. Tons of spinachey sauce.

Her paneer makhani is likewise saucey.

If you like okara, her dahi bhindi is really good and I liked the yogurt gravy thickened with chick pea flour.
posted by Seamus at 12:42 PM on April 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

I had lovely khadi pakora today. Very creamy.
posted by 15L06 at 12:48 PM on April 19, 2018

most of the texture you are chasing after comes from nut pastes that are pretty ubiquitous in replacement level south asian restaurants.
posted by JPD at 12:53 PM on April 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

I always use ground almonds and/or ground cashew nuts to thicken up a curry that’s too thin for me. Ground cashews, especially, create a texture very like cream without actually being cream.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:38 PM on April 19, 2018

I gave up making my own Indian food after my first couple tries, but if you want a thick sauce, look for a vegetable korma. It's made with cream and it's thick and delish. The other item I'd recommend is malai kofta - another thick-sauced, delicious vegetarian dish - but it strikes me as a lot of work to make from scratch. (These are my two favorite Indian entrees. I guess I love dishes that have thick sauces. Yum!)
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:16 PM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah, three things that I find always make for a good, rich, thick sauce:

1. Onion puree. Going off of my other two Madhur Jaffrey cookbooks, wow, some of her better recipes use a *lot* of onion.

2. Tomato puree, but this needs more reduction than the onion puree.

3. Cashew paste, like @Aravis76 and @JPD mention.
posted by kaszeta at 7:31 PM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I haven't seen corn starch mentioned yet, so - corn starch, as a binder and a thickener.
posted by naju at 10:58 PM on April 19, 2018

The Curry Secret is my new Indian cookbook I can't shut up about! It promises you will be able to make takeaway curry at home, and all the recipes are simple and delicious. Lots of nice thick sauces just like you're after.
posted by london explorer girl at 3:25 AM on April 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Malai kofta is now my favorite Indian dish to order at restaurants. It hits all those notes of super rich sauce with nice crispy veggie-ball bits floating in it. I've never made it myself, so can't vouch for this particular recipe, but it looks legit to my (very non-expert) eyes. But seriously, try it if you've never had it. The sauce is sooo good!
posted by catatethebird at 8:48 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

dal makhani is my very favourite. in this recipe (which is almost as good as restaurant-made!) i swap in canned roasted tomatoes for the fresh tomatoes/puree, to add some smokiness. i've never done the charcoal step, though.

i've also had good luck making a 'lazy' version of this where i use the sauce recipe from this butter chicken and simmer it with red lentils and pre-cooked small red beans until it's thick and creamy and delicious. the honey+pepper+cream+toasted fenugreek at the end makes it a wonderful dish, and the red lentils break down to make a thick sauce that's so good with naan.
posted by halation at 9:42 AM on April 20, 2018

I also sometimes add blended cooked potato to thicken sauces for things like Channa Masala. Adds depth and flavor to the sauce.
posted by PeaPod at 9:59 AM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Heavy cream is not the answer!

Purée the onions and tomatoes
Ground nuts
Grated coconut
posted by athirstforsalt at 6:35 AM on April 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Heavy cream is not the answer!

Heavy cream can be the answer! It depends on the dish/region. Mughlai dishes, for example, do utilize heavy cream, as does butter chicken.
posted by peacheater at 4:48 PM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

@peacheater, touche! Heavy cream is not the ONLY answer and maybe not the BEST answer if you want to avoid a sea of interchangeable Punjabi dishes all with the same creamy sauce :)

That said, dal makhani.
posted by athirstforsalt at 8:36 PM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older What goes in this empty corner of my dining room?   |   How much would I have to sweat to need IPx6-rated... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.