The Pretend Chef

Rich Tomato gravy

Rich tomato gravy

Stews/ Sauces/ dips | December 20, 2017 | By

Tomato gravy is a rich roux-based sauce, full of flavour and satisfying. It was a staple in my home, I served it at least once a week with twice cooked potatoes, grilled potatoes, rice or pasta.

My son no.1 called asking about my tomato sauce, the curry sauce and the other sauce, sauces that featured on our dinner table regularly while he was growing up. He loved those sauces and would drink them as soup.

Tomato gravy is very easy to make once you get past making the roux. The roux, a mix of plain flour fried in oil to get a rich colour, takes a little time and care to make but it is worth the effort. The roux does not have to be very dark, you can stop at straw colour and the gravy will still taste excellent.

Rich tomato gravy

My children didn’t like getting chunks of celery in their food so I would either finely mince it or cut it into 3-inch sticks and tie it in a short bunch then fish out when the gravy is ready.

I sometimes add Worcestershire sauce which adds a savoury punch to the gravy. A little goes a long way and it’s like a secret ingredient that rounds out the flavours of the tomato gravy. If you have it then add it.

To prepare Rich Tomato Gravy

500g beef
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, separated
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1" root ginger, minced
2 stalks celery (2 tablespoons finely chopped)
1 green pepper (1/4 cup chopped)
1/4 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon flour
2 seasoning cubes
2 carrots (1 cup chopped)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1`/2 teaspoon dry pepper
1 bayleaf

Cut beef into pieces and prepare other ingredients.

Place tomato paste in a small bowl and add 4 tablespoons of water, stir to mix well.

In a pot over medium-low heat, add vegetable oil, when hot add 1/4 cup flour.

Using a wooden spoon, stir and fry until colour changes to a deep caramel. It can take up to 15 minutes. Be careful to stir well so it does not burn.

Add tomato paste, stir well and set aside to cool a little.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, when hot, add onions, celery and green pepper, fry until soft.

Add garlic and ginger, fry until you can smell them.

Add thyme, bay leaf, beef, salt and pepper. Stir until beef is sealed.

Pour enough water to cover the beef, add seasoning cubes and stir well.

Pour beef mixture into the roux paste and stir gently. Don’t bother to break up, the roux will melt when heated up.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Simmer gently for 1 hour, until beef is very tender.

Add carrots and taste for seasoning.

Increase the heat and cook for 10 minutes, check the thickness of your gravy if it is good, take off the heat.

If it’s not thick enough see note below.

Rich tomato gravy


  • You can stop frying the roux at any point, it does not have to get dark you can stop at straw colour but the deeper the colour of the roux, the richer the flavour of the sauce.
  • If you see dark specks in your roux, it means it has burnt. Throw it out and start again.
  • Frying weakens the flour’s thickening ability, if your gravy isn’t thick enough at the end, mix equal amounts of flour and water and add 1-2 tablespoons, boil for about a minute or two.


If you enjoyed my Rich Tomato gravy, you will also enjoy my Fresh tomato sauce, Nigerian seafood chowder, Quick and easy tomato sauce and Chicken Tumeric sauce.

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