in a grinder or blender, take the following ingredients - 1 cup roughly chopped tomatoes, ⅓ cup chopped onion, 1 tsp chopped green chili, 1 tsp roughly chopped ginger, 1 tsp chopped garlic, 2 tbsp grated fresh or desiccated coconut,
tbsp chopped mint or chopped coriander or half-half of both
grind without adding any water to a smooth paste. if unable to grind to a smooth paste, then add 1 to 1.5 tbsp water.
heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. add the whole spices - 1 tejpatta, 1 black cardamom, 2 to 3 green cardamoms, 1 inch cinnamon, 3 to 4 cloves, 2 to 3 all spice/kababchini (optional), 1 or 2 single mace strands & 4 to 5 black pepper. if you want you can even skip the black cardamom. though adding black cardamom does give its flavor to the curry.
saute till the spices become aromatic.
now add the ground tomato-onion paste. be careful as the mixture splutters. stir very well.
then add ¼ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp red chili powder (reduce to ¼ tsp for a less spiced gravy), ½ tsp cumin powder, ½ tsp garam masala powder and 1 tsp coriander powder.
stir the spice powders with the rest of the masala paste.
stir and saute the masala till you see oil releasing from the sides of the paste. the mixture will also gather together and leave the sides of the pan.
then add 1 to 1.25 cups vegetable stock. its preferable to add veg stock. if you do not have veg stock, then add water. if making for veg biryani, you can also parboil/boil the veggies that will be added to the biryani and then add this vegetable stock to the gravy.
stir very well and season with salt.
again stir and bring the curry to a simmer on a low to medium flame for 5 to 6 minutes or till you see specks of oil on top.
garnish with chopped coriander or mint leaves. serve shorba with vegetable biryani or vegetable pulao.