Fried Onion Paste is a creation of Raghavan Iyer. This recipe is found in his book 660 Curries on page 16. This onion paste provides a base which evens out the pungent flavors of garlic and ginger, common components of most north Indian cooking. You can use any type of onion, but the tradition in north India is to use red onions.
It is important to cook the onions slowly; if the onions become overly crisp, the paste will have a bitter flavor.
¼ cup canola oil
2 lbs. red onions, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1. Preheat a wok or a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. Pour in the oil and swish it around gently to coat the bottom of the pan. The oil will immediately get hot and appear to shimmer. add until they are caramel-brown with a deep purple hue, 25 to 30 minutes. Initially they will stew in the oil, but once they start to cook down in volume, you will need to stir them more often as they start to stick to the bottom. Transfer the onions to a place to cool.
2. Pour 1 cup water into a blender jar. Add the caramelized onions and puree, scraping the inside of the jar as needed, to make a smooth, reddish-brown paste. Store the paste in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (The paste can be divided into smaller containers and frozen for up to 2 months.)
Makes about 3 cups.