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Lamb Bhuna

Lamb Bhuna
Lamb Bhuna - thick spicy lamb curry

Lamb bhuna or bhuna gosht is a Punjabi dish which has survived Anglicization better than most dishes; although I doubt most Indian restaurants make bhuna gosht in a traditional way, it usually turns out pretty well. The word 'bhuna' comes from Urdu and Bengali and means 'to be fried'; it is a style of Northern Indian cooking where firstly the spices are fried in hot oil and then, after the other ingredients have been combined, the sauce is reduced to a point where it is really thick and clings to the meat. In this variation I fry the spices along with the meat after marinating the meat in the spices.

This concentration makes bhuna dishes very rich and pungent. They would traditionally be quite a bit hotter than the typical Indian takeaway where they tend to be medium hot. I usually make this dish quite hot and serve with a milder side dish but you can make it as hot or as mild as you like by adjusting the chill content.

Basic Ingredients

1lb (450gm) Lamb
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1½ inch (3½cm) piece of root ginger
3 plum tomatoes or 200gm tinned tomatoes
3 tablespoons plain yoghurt
Oil for frying

4 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon crushed dried chilli
¼ teaspoon turmeric
Seeds from 3 cardamom pods
6 black peppercorns
½ inch (1cm) cinnamon stick

Notes on Ingredients

Lamb. Any lamb that can be diced is OK but I tend to use quite lean lamb for this dish as it is not cooked for hours, but you can use something like mutton shoulder (very traditional) and that is good as well.

Chilli. As little or as much as you like. This should be a medium hot dish, as well as the dried chilli I use a scotch bonnet in this quantity.

Oil. Ghee or mustard oil are best but you can use normal vegetable oil.

Basic Method

Roast the coriander, cumin, peppercorns and cinnamon allow to cool and grind to a fine powder together with the chillies and cardamom seeds.
Dice the lamb
Peel the onions, garlic and ginger cut the chilli into chunks removing the seeds if you wish, and blend with a little water to make a paste.
Marinate the lamb in the yoghurt, the onion/garlic paste and the spices for at least 2 hours.
Prepare the tomatoes if using fresh tomatoes (or just open the can)

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
Put in the meat with the marinade and cook till the meat is brown.
Put in the tomatoes and stir in.
Now turn down the heat to simmering and cover.
Cook for about 30-35 minutes or until the meat is tender.
Remove the lid and continue to cook to let the sauce reduce, it is done when the liquid has reduced to a coating on the meat

Notes on Method

Lamb bhuna really is fairly simple so not much to say here.

If you use mutton this may take a little longer to cook.

You can garnish with coriander leaves if you wish

Because the sauce is greatly reduced, lamb bhuna does not look much in terms of quantity when cooked. But beware, it is very rich and fills you up, the quantities above will easily feed 4 adults especially with a side dish.

I like to cook a good vegetable side dish like aloo gobi or gobi dhal with this and a bread - paratha or naan.

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