clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Masala Sauce in a pan with vegetarian meatballs.

Life-Changing 30 Minute Masala Sauce

  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 3-or-so cups masala sauce + 1 1/2 cups remaining masala paste for future use! 1x


30 Minute Masala Sauce! made with onions, garlic, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, lemon juice, cilantro, tomatoes, and coconut milk. Perfect sauce for veggie or chicken tikka masala! Vegetarian / Vegan


Units Scale

For the Masala Paste:

  • 2 onions (I used one yellow, one purple)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, crushed
  • 3 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • a small pile of cilantro stems
  • juice of one lemon

For the Masala Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups tomato puree + 1/2 cup water or broth
  • 1 14ounce can coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (taste and adjust)


  1. Masala Paste: Pulse all the ingredients for the Masala Paste in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Masala Sauce: Heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet. Add 1/4 cup masala paste to the skillet (not all of it! reserve the rest for future use – yay you!) and with a little bit of oil and stir around in the pan until fragrant (3-5 minutes). If you’re making this with chicken or another protein, this is a good time to add your protein to the pan. Add the tomato puree and water and simmer until t’s a rusty-deep-red color – about 5-10 minutes. Add the coconut milk; simmer for 10 minutes or so until thick and creamy. Longer simmer = thicker and better flavor.


Store the paste in a jar in the fridge for about a week or store in the freezer for, well, for probably forever. This sauce is great for making homemade chicken tikka masala, but it also goes with just about anything ever – kind of like a curry. We made this with butternut squash, chicken, and the meatless-meatballs that are pictured. Served over rice… mmmhmmmm. SO GOOD.

If you’re looking for a smoother masala sauce, like this Chicken Tikka Masala, just omit the almonds from the paste. If you prefer a chunkier paste, keep the almonds in. 

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: masala sauce, masala paste, indian masala sauce