Bhuna Masala

Bhuna Masala, tomato onion based cooked paste or thick sauce used to prepare many North Indian curries and vegetables.

Bhuna Masala recipe for everyday curries.

Many of North Indian basic curries have almost the same masala as base with some differences in the spices and herbs used. Making masala to cook curries may take some sometimes and when one is pressed on time it can come very handy..

What is Bhuna Masala

Bhuna Masala is basic onion and tomato based masala for basic North Indian curries.

Keep Bhuna Masala handy for quick meal options on weekdays. Very useful for busy mums and working professionals. Many times they have to rely on the house help/cooks or take aways for their meals, in case they have to rush office early in mornings or reach home late evenings. And when you have kids at home one can’t compromise on the quality of everyday food. If you have bhuna masala in your refrigerator/freezer,easy and wholesome meals can be prepared in jiffy without spending much time in making curries that time in making masala.

Commercially prepared bhuna masala is also available in stores (in India). Instead of buying the readymade stuff with preservatives why not make it at home and use as required.

How to make Bhuna Masala

It takes hardly 30 minutes to make a big batch of masala and one is sorted out for at least 10-15 days. Make basic masala paste and you can add more garlic/ginger/ spices or herbs as per the curry.

To make Bhuna masala, I use basic ingredients that are used for North Indian curries. onion, tomatoes, green chillies, ginger and garlic.

If you do not like to add garlic and some of your curries do not have garlic, skip adding to it. Many people like to add whole red chilli (Kashmiri Lal Mirch) for the bright red color of the masala, but I avoid it and keep the spice level to minimum for my son and hubby who doesn’t like very spicy food.

Also, I add only garam masala and do not add coriander powder as I don’t add it in my legume/lentils like Maa Chane di Daal.

For curries like Aloo Tamatar or Matar Mushroom, coriander powder, cumin powder and other spices can be added accordingly while preparing the curry.

Add little salt that acts as preservative if storing for about a month. Last year when I went to India for month long vacation, I made a big batch of masala and kept in freezer (divided in portions) . My used it whenever he needed that in making dals or other curries. Some of it was left when I came back and it was good to use even after  6 weeks.

Can we make Bhuna Masala in Instant Pot or Nutri Pot

Bhuna Masala can be made conveniently in Instant Pot or Nutri Pot. It takes just a few minutes.. there is a seperate post for How to make Bhuna Masala in Instant Pot.

Storing Bhuna Masala

Bhuna Masala can be refrigerated or freezed. Stays good for about 10-12 days in refrigerator and about a month if stored properly. Store it in airtight container preferably glass ones and avoid plastic.

Avoid freezing masala in bulk in one container. Thawing the whole batch again and again, will decrease the shelf life and masala can get spoiled also.

Divide it in small portions enough for one time curry as per your family size and use it accordingly. Use small containers or silicone cake molds or ice cube trays, freeze the portions and then store in big containers or ziplock bags.

How can I use Bhuna Masala..

Rajma Masala, Aloo MatarMatar Mushroom, Kofta Curries(Lauki Ke Kofte), Paneer dishes  or even veggies like Aloo Baigan(Potato and Brinjal curry) or Parwal can be prepared with it.

To make cream based paneer/tofu  curries, add cream or milk(dairy or non-dairy), tomato sauce/fresh tomato puree, spices and herbs as required and creamy curry is ready to relish.

Cooking in Instant pot or Nutripot can be so easy and mess free. For making legume based curries like Chole Masala, Rajma Masala(Red Kidney beans Curry), saute bhuna masala in inner pot , add spices cook for a minute, add legumes and set on the pressure cook mode and timer and here you have your the curry ready without any fuss.

I have the habit of removing froth that accumulates on top while cooking dal and other legumes. Pre-pared bhuna masala comes handy for such lentils. Just add the paste mix and cook.

Let’s see how I make this handy masala for everyday curries.. Bhuna Masala Stove -top version

Bhuna Masala

Bhuna Masala recipe for everyday Curries. Learn how to make use Bhuna Masala.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Condiments
Cuisine Indian, North Indian
Servings 1 Cup


  • Food Processor
  • Pan
  • Knife
  • Ladle


  • 3 Onions(Medium Sized)
  • 5-6 Tomatoes(Medium Sized)
  • 7-8 Garlic Cloves
  • 1" Fresh Ginger
  • 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds/Jeera
  • 1-2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • 1-2 tbsp Mustard Oil/Any Vegetable Oil


  • Peel, wash and roughly chop onions.
  • Peel garlic cloves .
  • Wash and roughly chop tomatoes.
  • In food processor make paste of onions, garlic cloves, fresh ginger and green chilies.
  • In a pan heat oil add cumin seeds, once seeds crackle add onion paste.
  • Saute onion paste till light golden brown.
  • Puree tomatoes and add to pan.
  • Cook till the liquid of from tomatoes dries and tomatoes are cooked.
  • Add garam masala and other spices(like turmeric powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder) if adding.
  • Cook till masala leaves oil.
  • Cool and store in airtight containers and refrigerate or freeze as required.

How to use in curries

  • Thaw before using.
  • In pan add masala, cook for few seconds, add spices as per the curry and add other ingredients of the curry like vegetables or lentils.


You can puree masala to smooth paste before storing or if you like coarse paste store it just like that. 

So make this bhuna masala and keep it ready for quick meals whenever pressed on time. You can adjust the amount of onion, tomatoes and other spices in masala as per your requirement.

Also you can puree onions, tomatoes or cooked masala in fine paste and store as per your preferences.

Bhuna Masala Stove top

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Author: Swati

Some who believes 'EAT WELL, READ DAILY, TRAVEL OFTEN AND LAUGH KHUL KE'!!! Hi!! Swati here!!! Chef, Chocolatier, food admirer, reader, love to travel, listen to music, Bollywood and shoot nature and food pics!! Welcome to my Foodtrails and join me in my food adventure!!

12 thoughts

  1. Wonderful! This is indeed so handy in today’s busy life, especially for working women who have no help from any quarters… And for even those males who might want to cook if staying far from the family!

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