Bhuna Lamb Recipe

Updated on September 1, 2017
Gordon N Hamilton profile image

Gordon has been cooking and experimenting with food since childhood. He loves coming up with new and tasty culinary creations.

Bhuna lamb with spicy fragrant rice and naan bread
Bhuna lamb with spicy fragrant rice and naan bread

My Personal Introduction to Bhuna Lamb

Bhuna lamb is a special Indian dish for me for a couple of reasons. The predictable one is the fact that it's absolutely delicious, and I love it when it is made and served properly and well. The second is the fact that it was the first Indian dish I ever tasted. I must have been about four or five years old when my family went to a (long gone) Indian restaurant in Kelvinside in Glasgow. Bhuna lamb was the dish recommended me by my Dad, and it was this I first tasted from the platters of food ordered. My love affair with the dish—and Indian cuisine in general—has continued from that day forward.

Bhuna is a dish made from fried spices to which meat is later added. The sauce is usually tomato and onion based, as in this instance. The spice mix is variable and changing them will alter the flavour considerably. This recipe is my own interpretation of bhuna lamb.

A Quick Question Before We Begin...

Have you ever made bhuna lamb or a similar Indian dish at home?

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Madhur Jaffrey - The Queen of Indian Cuisine

Particularly where you answered in the poll above that your previous attempts at cooking Indian food were not entirely successful, or you believe the process too difficult, you may be interested and delighted to know how much help is at hand. This page will show you a step-by-step guide to cooking bhuna lamb at home but if your menu requirements are wider, there can surely be no-one better to turn to than the Queen of Indian Cuisine, Madhur Jaffrey. The book below is just one of the many this lady has written, guiding you in simple, easy to follow steps through the processes of making any Indian dish you can name. If you want to learn how to cook Indian food, you could not put yourself in better hands.

Bhuna lamb with fragrant rice
Bhuna lamb with fragrant rice
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hour 45 min
Ready in: 2 hours
Yields: 2


  • 1/2 lb chopped leg of lamb meat
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon medium curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 small white onion (peeled halved and sliced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (peeled and finely sliced)
  • 1 green chilli pepper (finely sliced)
  • 8 oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 1 pint fresh chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 oz basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Small bunch fresh coriander/cilantro
  • Naan breads to serve


Bhuna Lamb Ingredients
Bhuna Lamb Ingredients

Frying the Spices for Bhuna Lamb

Bhuna lamb spice combination
Bhuna lamb spice combination

Pour the vegetable oil in to a large pot. Spoon in the chilli powder, curry powder and garam masala. Put the pot on to a medium heat and stir fry the spices for a couple of minutes with a wooden spoon.

Onions are Fried and Softened

Onion is added to fried spices
Onion is added to fried spices

Add the sliced onion, garlic and green chilli to the spicy paste. Continue to stir fry for a further two or three minutes until the onion strands are separated and noticeably softened.

Lamb is Sealed in Onion and Spice Mix

Lamb is added to the softened onion and spices
Lamb is added to the softened onion and spices

When the onions are softened, the lamb can now be added to the pot. The heat should be turned up slightly at this stage to seal the lamb quickly and evenly. Keep stirring all the time with the wooden spoon for the couple of minutes this will likely take.

Tomatoes and Stock are Added to Spiced Lamb

Tomatoes are added to bhuna spiced lamb
Tomatoes are added to bhuna spiced lamb

When the lamb pieces have been evenly sealed, pour the canned tomatoes in to the pot. Stir well. Pour in the chicken stock and turn the heat right up until the combination reaches a simmer. Reduce the heat again as required to achieve and maintain the gentlest possible simmer.

The cooking time will vary slightly, depending upon the quality of the lamb meat. Allow at least an hour and a half but slightly longer may be required. The dish is ready when the lamb is tender. Stir the bhuna occasionally and if necessary, top up the liquid level with a little boiling water, remembering that a lush and thick sauce should ultimately be formed.

How to Serve Bhuna Lamb

Bhuna lamb served with fragrant rice and naan bread
Bhuna lamb served with fragrant rice and naan bread

The accompaniments for bhuna lamb - like most Indian dishes - are down to personal tastes and preferences. It may be that you want yours served simply with some plain boiled rice; it may be that chapatis are your favoured type of Indian flatbread; or your preferences may be similar to mine in that you like it served with a form of spicy, aromatic rice and naan bread.

I've included details below of how I prepared the rice in this instance to serve with the bhuna lamb.

Wash the Rice Before it is Cooked

Washing basmati rice for cooking
Washing basmati rice for cooking

It is not absolutely essential but it is always a good idea to wash rice before it is cooked. Above all, this helps get rid of the excess starch which can contribute to the rice becoming gloopy during cooking. Simply add it to a fine sieve and swirl it gently for a couple of minutes under running cold water.

While you are washing the rice, have a deep pot of salted water coming to a bowl. Add one teaspoon of turmeric to the water and stir to combine. Add the rice, wait one minute and stir briefly but well. I always find this helps prevent the rice sticking together. Reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes.

Drain the rice through your sieve and return it to the empty pot.

Putting the Final Touches to the Aromatic Rice

Coriander is added to drained rice
Coriander is added to drained rice

You will need about a tablespoon of roughly chopped coriander leaf/cilantro for the rice, plus a little bit extra to garnish the plated bhuna lamb. Add the herb to the rice and stir it through as you "fluff up" the rice with a fork. Don't use a spoon at this stage as it can cause the rice grains to stick together.

Plating Up: Bhuna Lamb with Spicy Rice

Aromatic and spicy rice
Aromatic and spicy rice

It is a good idea to preheat your serving dishes in a very low oven, remembering to handle them afterwards only when wearing oven protecting gloves.

Spoon the rice in to one (or two) of the serving dishes. Be sure not to pack it down as you lay it in the bowl. It should be kept as light and fluffy as possible.

Carefully taste the bhuna lamb and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as required. Spoon it in to the serving dish and garnish with the leftover coriander/cilantro.

Bhuna lamb and aromatic rice
Bhuna lamb and aromatic rice

Lay the serving dishes of bhuna lamb and aromatic rice on a larger plate for taking to the table. Chop or slice your naan bread and arrange alongside.

Like this Bhuna Lamb Recipe?

4.7 stars from 3 ratings of this bhuna lamb recipe in stars!

Thank you for reading. Hopefully you are now in a position to try making bhuna lamb yourself at home. I very much hope you enjoy it as much as I regularly do.

Remember, you can experiment with different spice combinations to find the perfect combination for you but do be wary of making too many drastic changes at the one time. It is better to tweak and adjust over a period of time than risk outright, unmitigated disaster...

Is Bhuna Lamb your Favourite Indian Dish? - Is there another you prefer to cook/eat?

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    • Gordon N Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon N Hamilton 

      6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      @KandH: Thank you KandH. Hope it's one you like.

    • Gordon N Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon N Hamilton 

      6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      @Jo-Jackson: Naan bread is definitely a must have accompaniment for me with this kind of dish, AussieWriter. Nothing better for scooping up all that rich and tasty sauce.

    • Gordon N Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon N Hamilton 

      6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      @anonymous: Thank you :)

    • Gordon N Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon N Hamilton 

      6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      @heytoto: Thanks heytoto. Yes, I know dishes are very much regional in India so I hope this new idea is one that you enjoy. It's definitely hard to see past Madhur Jaffrey when it comes to Indian recipe writers and cooks.

    • Gordon N Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon N Hamilton 

      6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      @MelanieMurphyMyer: Thank you, Melanie - it's good to see you on Squidoo! :)

    • Gordon N Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon N Hamilton 

      6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      @lesliesinclair: I hope you do give it a try Papier and enjoy it when you do.

    • Gordon N Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon N Hamilton 

      6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      @asiliveandbreathe: I'm sure certain types of beans would work in this dish.

    • Gordon N Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

      Gordon N Hamilton 

      6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      @RinchenChodron: Thank you. I've heard that lamb is not as popular in the US as in the UK but chicken bhuna is equally good and obviously doesn't require the same lengthy cooking time.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I've never tried it, but it looks great! I think lamb is tough to find in American markets.

    • asiliveandbreathe profile image


      6 years ago

      Looks & sounds delicious!

      I would use beans in place of the meat for my vegetarian friends.

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      6 years ago

      It appears to be the very dish that I'm enamored of, and I would like to try cooking it. I occasionally have some, particularly after Eid, so I might give it a try. Thanks.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Beautifully presented. The pictures really show each step clearly and I like the way you use the headers to present the directions. I don't cook much but I love Indian food -- lamb especially -- and think I might give this recipe a try. Thanks.

    • MelanieMurphyMyer profile image


      6 years ago

      Oh my goodness, what a wonderful surprise! I looked at all the thumbnails for the food celebration voting thingy, and picked this one to click on - and what a surprise to see a familiar name! I'm Melanie Murphy Myer from that other writing site. ;) This recipe looks so tasty! And the photos are top-notch. I will be voting for you. Good luck!

    • heytoto profile image

      Karen Kolavalli 

      6 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      Well, I'm definitely going to try this! I lived in India for almost 10 years, but this is the first I've heard of Bhuna Lamb. I lived in the south and I see that this is a Punjabi recipe, so maybe that's why. I'm a big fan of Madhur Jaffrey, too!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Looks so yummy! Good luck on the Squidoo Food Club Quest: August

    • Jo-Jackson profile image


      6 years ago

      I've never tried this dish but it sounds delicious. A good opportunity to eat more naan bread too!

    • KandH profile image


      6 years ago

      This looks really good, I love Indian food and it's always nice to find a new recipe so I'll definitely give this one a try.


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