Bhuna Lamb Recipe
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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- 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
Frying the Spices for Bhuna Lamb
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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?
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...