Rhagbir’s Curry Base

Location: Cradley Heath Era: 1970
“I had my first curry when I was courting your Father in about 1970. We had what everyone had at the time which was a Vesta curry – a dried curry that you added water to. We thought we were ever so fancy. There was a Chow Mein one too – where you had to add fried onions to the top. We didn’t use to go out for curries very much – that came later, it wasn’t very common then. When your Dad was a student, he shared a kitchen with a lad called Rhagbir who was from India. He taught your Dad how to make a curry from scratch. We still call it Rhagbir’s curry. We vary it a lot, but the basic principle is frying your onions, then your spice, then making it into a paste with tomato puree, then add your liquid and so on …” Judith Oliver


  • One onion, sliced
  • Butter
  • 5 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 4cm of fresh ginger, crushed
  • Spices – cumin, coriander, garam masala, chilli, turmeric, cardamom
  • Tomato puree
  • Meat / vegetables
  • Stock


Fry your onions in melted butter in a large pot – butter tastes better.

Add your garlic, ginger and dry spices along with the tomato puree.

Cook over a gentle heat to create a paste.

Add in the meat/vegetables of your choice.

Cover with stock and cook until the meat/vegetables are cooked, and the sauce is reduced.