Madhur Jaffrey's lamb bhuna

Bhuna Gosht, or lamb bhuna

by rich on June 15, 2009

Bhuna‘ is a particular Asian cooking style where a sauce is reduced and reduced until it is so thick that it just clings to the meat, making the meat appear ‘browned’.

Dishes cooked in the bhuna style are rich and pungent, the flavour of the spice mix concentrated down by the fierce reduction of the sauce. Bhunas tend to be hot for the same reason.

This recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible.  Her recipes are outstanding.

To make a lamb bhuna, start by gently browning a heady mix of spices.

Add two teaspoons of cumin seeds, four teaspoons of coriander seeds, two teaspoons of mustard seeds, two or three dried chillis, and finally two teaspoons each of fennel and fenugreek seeds to a large, dry, medium hot frying pan. Keep the spices moving for a minute or two until they brown slightly. Empty the pan into a bowl and let the spices cool slightly before grinding them to a fine powder in a coffee grinder of with a pestle and mortar.

Next, finely chop three large shallots, a four centimetre chunk of ginger and five or six garlic cloves in oil in a large pan until they turn golden brown. This will take maybe four or five minutes.

Add a couple of medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped to the pan, along with about fifteen curry leaves. Feel free to use canned tomatoes instead of fresh. Cook until the sauce thickens.

Add the roasted spice mix to the pan and stir well. The dry spice powder will cause the sauce to seize and thicken. Cook for a minute or two, taking care not to let the sauce catch on the bottom of the pan. If it does, add a splash of water and quickly stir.

Now add a kilo of boneless lamb or mutton shoulder, cut into large chunks, and a teaspoon and a half of salt. Stir and cook for five minutes, making sure that the meat is fully covered in the thick sauce.

Let the curry down with 250ml of water, bring to a gentle simmer, put a lid on the pan and cook on a very gentle heat for about an hour and a half.

After this time, check that the meat is tender. If it isn’t leave it for a while longer. When the meat is ready, remove the lid from the pan and turn up the heat to reduce the sauce until it almost disappears. The aim is to create a dry dish, where the highly concentrated remains of the sauce cling tightly to the tender meat.

Finish with a sprinkle of garam masala and a handful of chopped fresh coriander.

Serve with naan bread, rice and cold beer. This is no place for wine. Beer only, please, something light and very, very cold.

More curries and Indian food:

Gosht Achar
Rogan josh, a king amongst curries
Naan bread
Aagrah, Shipley
Lamb curry with onions and raisins

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea May 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I'm not sure what i did wrong but i followed the recipe to the letter but it tastes really sour. Ah well nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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rich May 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Could have been the balance of the spices…too much fenugreek, maybe? Different batches often vary in strength.

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Chris September 20, 2011 at 11:01 am

Hi!

I’m going to follow this recipe today so fingers crossed i’ll get it right. I can’t track down fenugreek seeds so i’m going to use dried ground fenugreek which is hopefully an alright substitution! The powder is a little old so won’t be at max flavour but I saw the comment above about sour taste and your idea it might be due to fenugreek so maybe that’s a good thing!

On a side note, i’m also going to experiment today with making a home version of one of my takeaway favourites, Chicken Chaat Puri – is this a dish you’re familiar with? It’s basically an indian style hot sweet and sour chicken starter that comes with a large pancake like fried unleavened bread to wrap bites in. I’m in unfamiliar territory with amchoor powder and tamarind pulp and chaat masala, lol.

Chris

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mjskit September 25, 2011 at 4:48 pm

This looks absolutely delicious. I love Lamb bhuna, but have never made. I just order it at my favorite Indian restaurant. This looks like a great recipe that I could make at home!

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Allie April 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Loved this recipe but tweeked it a bit and here are my hints – no whole dried chillies available so used 1 scant tsp crushed chillies. No whole fenugreek seeds available so added one tsp ground fenugreek after grinding other spices. Used a can of (Tesco value) chopped tomatoes, and a finely chopped onion instead of shallots. Also 1/2 a lamb stock cube and cut the salt down to 1/2 tsp. Also felt it tasted a little bitter so added about a 3/4 tsp palm sugar (brown sugar would be good too) and that did the trick! Family declared it delicious, feeling proud and writing this so I remember how to do it again next time! ( P.S. Would say ours was mild to medium heat wise – adjust your chillies as you like)

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sitara June 7, 2012 at 12:52 am

I used onions and red chilli powder as I did not have any dried chillies. I also had no fenugreek but the curry tasted delicious! One thing I have learned is using cheaper value chopped tomatoes from tins. Italian tinned tomatoes are great for many other dishes but I find they can make curries taste more sour or too tangy. I also added chunks of fresh tomatoes, cut in 4 pieces and chopped large pieces of onion 15 mins before turning off the heat, this made the curry really juices with each mouthful!

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Jane January 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I tried making this recipe last night but it didn’t turn out how I’d expected. The meat came out very tender and tasted nice, but it just didn’t really taste that much like a curry. The only thing I did differently was to add more than 250ml water (maybe more like 400ml) – I was using a shallow pan and didn’t want the meat to stick. I wouldn’t have thought this would have made much difference. Any tips/ideas where I went wrong?

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rich January 30, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Quite probably too much water. The sauce should be quite thick and clinging to the meat. Try adding less water and keeping the heat lower if it looks like it might stick.

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Jane January 30, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I must try it again! I just thought with such little water (the 250ml didn’t cover the meat fully) it wouldn’t cook through. I should have trusted the recipe….which is what I would normally do. Thanks for replying :)

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MARK FLETCHER March 31, 2013 at 11:24 am

TRIED THE RECEPIE LAST NIGHT AND THE MEAL IS LOVELY ITS NOTHING LIKE YOU GET IN A TAKEAWAY AS A BHUNA BUT DELICOUS NONE THE LESS

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