One dish which I would like people to remember me for – this Bhuna Chicken! No kidding!
Bhuna literally translates into roasted but let that term not mislead you. There’s so much more to this than plain simple roasting. The recipe involves cooking the chicken in mustard oil with lots of onions and spices. Elbow grease and patience is key to this simple yet delicious dish. Do not get overwhelmed by the seemingly long list of ingredients; once you have everything on hand, its literally adding things one after the other.
Add an extra dollop of ghee and indulge in this special bhuna chicken for your weekend lunch. If you like your curries potent and flavourful and you are a chicken fan then this recipe is for you. An absolute must-try, even if I say so myself.
What Makes the Bhuna Chicken Special?
Before you dive into the recipe, here are a few things for you to keep in mind.
- For the chicken, I recommend the boneless thigh portion or a combination of thighs and drumsticks.
- The red Indian onions work best for this gravy but you could use the regular white ones too.
- Mustard oil works best for this recipe. If you are unable to lay your hands on mustard then use safflower oil or ghee. Indian food doesn’t taste its best with olive or canola oil.
- The quality of the garam masala would also impact the flavor of the dish. I always use homemade garam masala for the best results. For the recipe of my homemade garam masala, go here.
- Chicken (preferably boneless thigh portion or a combination of thighs and drumsticks)- 600 gm
- Onion- 3 medium sized ( approximately 2.5 cups)- chopped fine vertically so you have long thin slivers. The red Indian onions work best for this gravy but you could use the regular white ones too
- Ginger-garlic paste- 1.5 tablespoons
- Green chillis- slit into half -2 or as per taste
- Cumin seeds (jeera)- 1/2 teaspoon
- Whole dried red chili- 2
- Bay leaf( Tej Patta)- 2
- Star anise(Phool chakri)- 1
- Black cardamom (Badi elaichi)- 1
- Mace (Javitri)-1
- Whole Black Pepper(kali mirch)- 1/2 teaspoon
- Garam Masala-1.5 teaspoons
- Coriander powder-1/2 teaspoon
- Red chili powder-1/2 teaspoon (optional)
- Turmeric powder-1/2 teaspoon
- Salt- 2 teaspoons or to taste
- Mustard oil-2 tablespoons
- Ghee- 1 teaspoon
- Chopped coriander for garnish -2 tablespoons
- Clean and cut the chicken to desired size pieces and keep aside.
- In a thick bottomed wide wok add mustard oil on a high flame till the oil is really hot . Reduce the flame to medium-low and add cumin seeds first, immediately followed by other whole spices. Stir for about 15 secs until the spices are fragrant. Then add the chopped onions and increase the flame to medium-high and fry onions till nice and brown. We are looking to cook the onions till they are golden and cooked through but be careful to not over cook and burn them. Keep stirring.
- Once onions are nicely browned , add ginger garlic paste and cook for about 30 secs followed by garam masala, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder (if using) and mix well. Keep the flame on medium-high while cooking the spices and stir continuously to avoid burning. If the mixture starts to get too dry, add 1/2 teaspoon ghee or oil. When the spices are cooked through (indicated by formation of really tiny oil bubbles around the periphery of the mixture) , add the chicken pieces and mix well for 2 minutes on a high flame . Then on a low flame with intermittent stirring cook till the chicken pieces are tender. Add salt, ghee and green chilies when the chicken is 70% done.
- At this point you could decide if you want the curry on a dryer side ( best enjoyed with roti or parathas) or on a runny side (great with hot rice). For a runny curry, add 1 cup water, mix well, cover and cook on a medium flame until tender. For a dryish curry, do not cover and keep cooking ( yes, loads of elbow grease) with frequent stirring until tender. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with rice or chapatis. Raw onion rings topped with salt and lime are a great accompaniment to this dish and add to the taste.
Mustard oil works best for this recipe . If you are unable to lay your hands on mustard then use safflower oil or ghee. Indian food doesn't taste its best with olive or canola oil Whenever cooking on a high flame constant stirring is a must to avoid over cooking or burning The quality of garam masala would also impact the flavor of the dish. I always use home made garam masala for best results .