What is a Bhuna Curry?
A bhuna (or bhoona) curry is one where the curry sauce is thick (or dry), not runny. The curry is cooked using the bhuna (or bhooning) process. A typical bhuna curry from a curry house has a medium heat and is often garnished with shredded onions and fried green bell peppers (capsicum).
Where Does Bhuna Curry Come From?
The bhuna style of cooking a curry comes from the old Bengal area on the subcontinent. This area is now split between the Indian state of Bengal and the country of Bangladesh.
What is Bhooning?
Bhooning is the technique of frying the curry ingredients at a high temperature. The best cooking oil to use for this is ghee because ghee can be heated to a high temperature before it starts to burn.
The ghee is heated to a high temperature for a short time and then the initial spices are fried (care should be taken at this stage because the ingredients are liable to splutter). Water is added to stop the spices from burning – either the spices are made into a paste with water before being added to the ghee or a little water is added with the spices.
The spices need to be stir-fried very quickly while the water evaporates. The frying vessel (frying pan, karahi, wok, etc.) should be removed from the heat as soon as the oil separates and floats on top of the ingredients.
At this stage the actual bhooning process is over and a little water is often added to reduce the temperature of the ingredients.
The heat is lowered for the remainder of the cooking.
How to Make a Bhuna Curry
The first step of making a bhuna curry is to do the bhooning so that the spices are cooked at a high temperature without burning.
Then the cooking heat is lowered.
The next ingredients to be added are usually garlic, ginger and onions and these ingredients are cooked slowly, often until the onion is browned (but not burnt) – the onion is caramelised when it is browned and this improves the taste. A little water may need to be added if the ingredients get too dry but the object of this stage of the cooking is to remove all of the liquid while browning the onion.
The next stage is to add the main ingredient, which can be meat or vegetable.
Other ingredients can be added and cooked. There are lots of different recipes that use different ingredient combinations.
Once everything is cooked, the resultant bhuna curry should be spicy with a dry sauce.
What is In a Bhuna Curry?
There are really no magic or special ingredients in a bhuna curry – a bhuna curry can have any of the usual curry ingredients in it.
The “must have” ingredients are spices (including ginger), onions and garlic, cooked in ghee (there are some cooking oils with high burning temperatures that are sometimes substituted for ghee).
The main meats that are in a bhuna are lamb, beef, chicken, fish and prawns.
The main vegetables that are in a bhuna are potato, cauliflower, carrot, tomato and green beans.
But there are no limits to what you can put into a bhuna curry as long as you know how to cook the ingredients.
Where to Find Bhuna Curry Recipes
There is a wide range of easy bhuna curry recipes on the Curry Focus website. If you have a favourite bhuna curry recipe then why not share it with us by giving the details on the new bhuna curry recipe page or you can just email the recipe to us. We will format the recipe and publish it for everyone to see. Don’t forget to give us your name so that we can publish it with the recipe.