Chicken Bhuna Curry

Bengali style Chicken bhuna curry, is a slightly drier chicken curry, with sticky caramelised onion base that is slightly sweet and spicy. A quick and easy curry to whip together for a weeknight dinner.

Juicy and tender chicken with a sweet and spicy caramelised onion base that is satisfyingly sticky. This bhuna is packed with flavour and gets an extra helping hand from aromatic garam masala. Cooked in a wok, this is a quick chicken curry that pairs well with plain rice or fresh flatbread. 

 

Bengali style Chicken bhuna curry, is a slightly drier chicken curry, with sticky caramelised onion base that is slightly sweet and spicy. A quick and easy curry to whip together for a weeknight dinner.

 

Chicken bhuna is another variation of the chicken curry that is a staple to have in your Bengali recipe repertoire. According to some fastidious googling, a bhuna is a medium-hot dry curry originating in Bengal, prepared typically by frying meat with spices at a high temperature. There is usually not much sauce added to the curry, resulting in a much more concentrated and spicy flavour. Unlike other curries, which often taste better the next day once the spices have time to marinade and develop, chicken bhunas taste best fresh on the day. 

There is a slightly more onion used in a bhuna and leaving the onion base to slowly soften and break down into a jammy consistency is the key to acquiring a great dish. 

This is another traditional Bangladeshi recipe that I have picked up from my mother. However, we don’t eat it as much as our usual chicken curries which have a lot more sauce as it is a little more heavier. But some days you just crave the decadence and rich flavour of a good bhuna. 

Bengali style Chicken bhuna curry, is a slightly drier chicken curry, with sticky caramelised onion base that is slightly sweet and spicy. A quick and easy curry to whip together for a weeknight dinner.

 

If you follow me on instagram (if not, why not??) then you may have seen some pictures I uploaded a few days ago of a delicious Korean inspired meal that my teenage niece prepared for us. It was in fact the first proper dinner that she had cooked all by herself. Watching her labour away in the kitchen, slightly cautious yet excited and rigidly determined not to accept any of my several offers for assistance bought a wistful smile to my face. Also, I was a total backseat cook and despite her declining any help from me, I couldn’t stop myself from sharing some necessary kitchen tips (sooner or later we all turn into our mothers, riiiight?). We had 3 generations of cooks in the home that day and I look forward to when we can pass traditional recipes like this simple chicken bhuna on to her. 

 

Bengali style Chicken bhuna curry, is a slightly drier chicken curry, with sticky caramelised onion base that is slightly sweet and spicy. A quick and easy curry to whip together for a weeknight dinner.

 

This is a great variation of a chicken curry to serve to guests, a bit more restaurant style cooking and still quick enough to prepare without any fuss. Whilst I stuck to my usually selection of spices, I added a little more red chilli powder as the extra potency is needed to balance out the lack of sauce which might otherwise lead to a dry and bland curry. You can of course add less chilli powder if you’re not so fond of heat. I also used some garam masala near the end of the cooking to add some extra flavour. I used a really aromatic blend from Spice Kitchen, an artisan family business based in the UK. I’ve used their curry powder before in my Sri Lankan Chicken Curry recipe and I’m always so impressed by how fresh and high quality their blends are. 

 

Bengali style Chicken bhuna curry, is a slightly drier chicken curry, with sticky caramelised onion base that is slightly sweet and spicy. A quick and easy curry to whip together for a weeknight dinner.

Chicken Bhuna
Serves 6
A traditional Bengali dish, that is slightly dryer with chicken cooked in a sticky and spicy onion base.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 medium sized onions, sliced.
  2. 4 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  3. 2 inch piece of ginger, minced
  4. 6 tablespoons oil
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 2 bay leaves
  7. 1 cassia bark/cinnamon stick, snapped into 3 pieces
  8. 4 green cardamoms
  9. 1 kg whole chicken, cut into about 10-12 pieces and washed
  10. 1/4 tsp turmeric
  11. 2 1/2 - 3 tsp chilli powder
  12. 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  13. 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  14. 1/2 tsp garam masala
  15. Water
  16. Salt to season
  17. 3 green chillies, cut vertically (optional)
  18. Handful of chopped coriander to garnish
Instructions
  1. Add oil to a wok or similar shaped pan and allow to heat up on a medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic and stir using a wooden spoon until the garlic is golden.
  3. Add the onions, ginger, cassia bark, bay leaf and green cardamom. Stir into the oil and garlic. Add 1/2 tsp salt to help the onions to soften. Cover with a lid and leave the base to cook for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Uncover and stir the onions, making sure that it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add about 1/4 cup of water to help the onions break down in to a mushy consistency. Cover and leave the onion base to simmer for a further 3-5 minutes.
  5. Uncover and stir the onions again and use your wooden spoon to push down and mash the onions. Once the water has been absorbed into the onions and it starts looking a little dry again, add the chilli powder, turmeric, cumin and curry powder. Stir the spices in well cover and leave the spices to cook off for 2-3 minutes.
  6. After 2-3 minutes, check on the curry base, if you find the onions are catching to the bottom of the pan too much then add a few tablespoons of water. Allow the onions to cook until the majority of the onions have broken down into a mushy consistency.
  7. Add in the chicken and stir until it is coated in the masala. Cover and leave to cook on a high heat for 3-5 minutes.
  8. After 3-5 minutes, uncover and stir the chicken again. You should notice water coming out of the chicken. Cover and leave the chicken to cook on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until most of the liquid has dried up and the chicken is cooked through.
  9. Once the chicken is cooked through, sprinkle the garam masala, stir and leave to cook for a final 5 minutes on a low heat. Check the salt to taste.
  10. Add in the green chillies and chopped coriander and then remove from the heat and serve.
Notes
  1. Bhuna is meant to be dry so try not to add too much water. Use water if necessary to help the onions break down into a smooth base but you should not add water once you have added the chicken into the pan.
The Red Lychee http://www.theredlychee.com/

Bengali style Chicken bhuna curry, is a slightly drier chicken curry, with sticky caramelised onion base that is slightly sweet and spicy. A quick and easy curry to whip together for a weeknight dinner..

Disclaimer: I was sent products from Spice Kitchen to sample but all opinions stated are my own.

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10 thoughts on “Chicken Bhuna Curry

  1. Assalaamu Alaykum Abida,
    I’ve seen bhuna on menus and always wondered what makes it different from the other curries, jazaki Allahu khayran for sharing your culinary knowledge and heritage.
    As with all your curries, I just have to try this Bhuna, in shaa Allah. Allahumma Baarik alayki

  2. Lip smacking delicious.. anything with lots of onion wins me. I have heard the word buna a lot but I never knew it is referred to this kind of curry. With lots of onions and masalas as the base, in our side we just called it xyz roast! 😛 Ok when I said our side, I am from Kerala that is South Indian state. I have to say this Abida, your photography is so neat and looks effortless! Lovely!

    1. Abida

      We have similar dishes that we also call roast too, but often, the chicken or meat will be fried separately and then added to the onions and masala. With the bhuna it is dry and all in one pot. Thanks so much Famidha!

  3. Salaam Abida!
    Bhuna chicken sounds good. I had posted bhuna ghost few days back. I have to try bhuna chicken. Saving your recipe. Looks really tempting. 😋😋

  4. Those Chicken bhuna look heavenly! And they’re seem very easy to make, they’re definitely a breakfast must! I love all of your tips! Thanks again as always!

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