If you enjoy authentic Indian flavors but not the expense of restaurant meals and take-out, you’ll love Indian simmer sauce, a readymade product that comes in jars. Tikka masala, madras curry, vindaloo, Goan coconut, and Jalfrezi are among the varieties made by brands including Maya Kaimal, Trader Joe’s, and Patak’s. Many varieties are plant-based.
When it comes to making Indian-style dishes at home, the truth is that I’m just too lazy to deal with roasting and grinding and mixing and measuring all the myriad spices that add up to the amazing flavors we’ve come to expect from this cuisine.
All of that has changed with the array Indian simmer sauces on the market. They make all the difference when it comes to creating truly authentic-tasting dishes. These sauces are packed with delectably complex flavors, making them ideal starters for curries, stews, soups, and more.
From mild to spicy: Some types like Jalfrezi are mild, others, like vindaloo, are downright fiery. The front of the label lets you know what you’re getting as far as heat level.
Read labels for dairy-free varieties. If yours is a vegan kitchen, be sure to read labels to select a plant-based variety, because some of them contain dairy. As mentioned above, Jalfrezi, Goan coconut, Tikka masala, and Rogan Josh usually fit the bill nicely.
Look for Indian simmer sauce varieties in the Asian foods section in well-stocked supermarkets, natural foods stores, and online. From this site’s recipe collection, here are a dozen ways to use these sauces to easily make authentic-tasting Indian-style dishes in your kitchen.
Indian simmer sauce brands: Here are some popular brands, though by no means an exhaustive list: Brooklyn Delhi; Indian Life; Masala Mama; Maya Kaimal; Patak’s; Saffron Road; Trader Joe’s.
Indian-Spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew: This delectable stew gives you the curry flavors you crave at a fraction of the cost of take-out. Using readymade Indian simmer sauce and frozen cauliflower, this weeknight main dish will be on the table in 30 minutes.
Coconut Curry Vegetable Stew: Even those who aren’t big on curries might be won over by this colorful coconut curry. The vegetables in this are typical to Indian curries, and the whole dish is simplified with a fantastic shortcut — readymade Indian simmer sauce, of course.
Quick Aloo Gobi: If you’re a vegetarian or vegan who enjoys going out for Indian food, chances are you’ve ordered aloo gobi, a classic dish of mildly spiced, curried cauliflower and potatoes. This quick aloo gobi recipe is made with a couple of shortcuts, but still tastes deliciously authentic.
Super-Easy Chickpea Curry (Chana Masala): An easy chickpea curry (also known as chana masala) is always welcome as a last-minute meal. Add a fresh flatbread or a cooked grain and a simple salad for a nearly-instant dinner.
Quick Lentil and Kidney Bean Curry: Inspired by a traditional Indian recipe that combines two tasty, high-protein legumes, this vegan lentil and kidney bean curry makes a filling, quick, and easy dinner. The original recipe uses 15 to 20 ingredients, many of which are spices. This nearly-instant version, not surprisingly, uses readymade simmer sauce.
Tofu and Sweet Potato Curry: Once you have your sweet potatoes ready, this tasty and offbeat tofu and sweet potato curry comes together quickly. A jar of simmer sauce infuses the dish with all the delicious flavors of Indian cuisine it needs.
Vegan Thai Coconut Curry Meatballs: Saucy vegan Thai coconut curry meatballs is a plant-based take on a home-style dish. A jar of simmer sauce does the job much better than the average Western cook to create amazingly complex flavors.
Easy Vegan Massaman Curry: Massaman curry could be described as the Thai version of all-American beefy vegetable stew, with several overlapping ingredients. It’s the base where the two stews part ways. This recipe is richly flavored with coconut milk, peanut butter, and Indian simmer sauce.
Coconut Curry Carrot Chickpea Soup: This simple soup comes together easily with two shortcuts — baby carrots and, you guessed it, Indian simmer sauce. This naturally vegan soup combines comfort and spice in one satisfying bowlful.
Fast and Easy Vegan Laksa Soup: Vegan laksa soup is made super easy and features rice noodles in a coconut-curry base with vegetables, chickpeas or tofu, and tasty toppings.
Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup: This simple curry coconut red lentil soup makes use of simmer sauce, which by now you know is one of my favorite shortcuts. Red lentils themselves are a bit of a shortcut as compared to other types of lentils, since they cook up so quickly.
Curried Chickpea Burgers: Here’s a more offbeat use for Indian simmer sauce. Curried chickpea burgers are infused with great flavor and are so easy to make. Serve on buns with your favorite accompaniments, or just pop one or two on top of a green salad.