Kukhra alainchi sanga

Gurkha cardamom sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    2 x 500 ml


Appears in

Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

This is a sauce from the Gurkha people in Nepal, who are famed for their courage and tenacity. Trekking through the Himalayas, trudging up to 4800 metres (16,000 feet), also made me realise how resilient they are, as we were passed in both directions by the same Ghurka speeding up and down the mountain, delivering everything from beer to beds up to base camp, so we could enjoy pizza and beer among the highest peaks in the world.

Try this aromatic sauce with anything from grilled eggplant (aubergine) to Paneer cheese.

Preparation 30 minutes
Cooking 25 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon rice bran oil
  • 2 white onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 250 g (9 oz) Greek-style yoghurt

Nepalese Masala Paste

  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 5 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric


Place all the masala paste ingredients in a food processor and blend until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.

Heat the rice bran oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cumin seeds, cardamom pods and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is golden brown.

Add the masala paste and tomatoes and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring lightly to stop the sauce sticking to the bottom; you will see the oil slowly rising to the surface.

At this stage, carefully stir in 350 ml (12 fl oz) cold water and bring the sauce to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 5–10 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and there is a nice layer of masala-infused oil on top.

Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon sticks, then blend the sauce using a hand-held stick blender. Stir in the yoghurt until well combined.

Spoon into hot sterilised jars, seal and refrigerate. The sauce will keep in the fridge for 1–2 weeks.