The 3 Types of White Sauces or Gravies to Rustle Up In a Jiffy

Contrary to popular perception, Indian gravies are not just limited to deep orange, green or brown in colour. A lot of Indian cooking, whether it is a Kolhapuri pandhra rassa (white sauce) or a Kutchi kadhi use white gravy or sauce as a base. Indian white gravies are usually made of onion, milk or cream, paste of cashews or poppy seeds, garlic and ginger. Tomatoes are never used in white gravy preparations in puree form, though they may be added to the gravy in diced or cubed form, depending on the recipe.

As a professional chef, you are aware of how quickly a recipe can get a different complexion and taste with the introduction of a hearty Indian gravy. White Indian gravies add versatility and a milder touch to the dish, as compared to a fiery red gravy that makes the tongue scream for help! They are often a counterpoint to spicy curries, and offer the palate a ‘softer’ alternative to salted and heavily spiced dishes.

The 3 white Indian gravies you can rustle up quickly

Time often runs out during a busy day in the kitchen, and you don’t want to be left scrambling to put together a dish that tastes and looks fantastic. Let a mild gravy in white come to the rescue. Here are our top 3 suggestions:

  1. Chicken Stew: This hearty dish is great for cool weather or when the skies are grey. Marinate chicken cubes using chicken powder, some oil and turmeric powder for an hour. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan and saute garlic. To this pan, add onions, diced tomatoes, eggplant slices and carrot pieces to fry well. Once vegetables are slightly soft, add red chilly sauce and a cup of water. Bring the sauce to a boil, then add coconut milk and simmer till the stew thickens. Add the chicken pieces to the stew and mix well before taking off the flame.

  2. Ranch Dip: This one is a white sauce that you can use as a dip for French fries, potato crisps, onion rings or even as a dressing for a burger. Mash a clove of garlic and add it to a bowl. To this, add, half a cup of buttermilk, 1/8 cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup sour milk, a pinch of salt and pepper powder, two sprigs of thyme, 1 tsp dill or finely chopped coriander, and a pinch of cayenne. Whisk all these ingredients together and the dip is ready to serve.

  3. Paneer in White Gravy: Prepare a basic Indian gravy that is irresistible and makes for a lip-smacking base for both paneer and chicken/mutton dishes. However, you will need to keep a few ingredients at hand: ginger garlic paste, Kashmiri red chilly, coriander seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, curd, and paneer or chicken/mutton cubes. Here’s how you prepare the gravy: start by grinding the red chilly and coriander seeds to a fine powder, and set aside. In a pan, sauté onions and cashews, then cover with a cup of water and bring to a boil. Let it cool before blending. In another pan, fry bay leaf, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. To this add the onion and cashew mixture, and ginger garlic paste. After a minute, add curds and green chilly pieces, and finally the ground red chilly and coriander seeds powder. Mix well and allow to simmer for two minutes. Finally add the paneer/chicken/mutton cubes, sugar and salt to taste, and keep on low flame for two minutes. Serve with roti or parathas.