If you love recreating your favourite Indian takeaway recipes then you will love this homemade chicken bhuna curry. It's a deliciously spiced dry Indian curry that's perfect served with rice or your favourite Indian breads.
I am a total curry addict but not at all a snob. There is a time for takeaway curries, supermarket curries and homemade curries. One of my favourite things to do is to recreate our favourite takeaway curries at home.
One of our favourites is chicken bhuna. It's a delicious chicken curry in a rich thick sauce made from gently frying onions, ginger and garlic until slightly browned, adding spices and then tomatoes and chicken. It's easy to make and doesn't have as many different spices as some curries, but it's still just as tasty.
Chicken bhuna is often described as a dry curry. This doesn't mean that there isn't any sauce, it just means that the sauce is thick. So, if you're looking for a relatively easy but tasty curry with a rich tomato sauce then chicken bhuna is definitely one to try.
It's not too hot either. Generally it's a medium spiced curry but of course you can adapt it when you make it at home. Add extra chilli peppers for those who like really hot curries or make it milder if you're cooking for people with different tastes. You can always spice it up on the table!
What ingredients do you need for chicken bhuna?
To make this chicken bhuna curry you'll need:
- Onions - I usually use brown onions but you can use red ones.
- Garlic - Use fresh garlic or replace them with a garlic paste.
- Root ginger - Use fresh root ginger or use a paste or frozen grated ginger.
- Chilli pepper - A red or green chilli pepper is fine. If you don't have any fresh chillies just use extra chilli powder.
- Spices - Garam masala, ground coriander, chilli powder, cumin, turmeric
- Chicken - You can use chicken breast or thighs. My family tend to prefer breast but thighs work really well.
- Tomato puree
- Fresh coriander (cilantro) - This can be omitted if you're not a fan of coriander. We love to add lots at the end and when serving.
How to make chicken bhuna
To make this curry you need a large saucepan. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil and then add the onions. They need to cook fairly slowly and begin to caramelize before you add anything else. If they get too dry at any point then add just a little water to stop them sticking and burning.
Then stir in the ginger, garlic and chopped chilli, followed by the spices. Again, if they get too dry and start to stick, add just a little water.
Then stir in the chicken pieces and stir to brown slightly on the outside.
Before adding the tomatoes, blend them using a stick blender or food processor. Stir them into the curry along with the tomato puree.
At this point you can bring the curry to a simmer and then leave it for about 20 minutes for the chicken to cook through.
Can you adapt the recipe?
You can adapt it a little. If you want to make it hotter or milder, increase or reduce the amount of chilli powder or fresh chillies.
Chicken bhuna is normally a dairy-free curry but if you're making this at home and you prefer a creamier curry, there's nothing to stop you from stirring in a few tablespoons of cream or yogurt at the end. Use coconut cream if you want a dairy free version.
Instead of fresh tomatoes, you can use tinned tomatoes. I also like to blend them to get a smooth sauce and avoid the chunks you sometimes get when using tinned tomatoes.
Storing and reheating
Any leftover chicken bhuna can be kept in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container. You can reheat it in the microwave or in a saucepan on the hob. As chicken bhuna is a dry curry, if you reheat it on the hob you will need to add a little water, otherwise it will be too dry.
Can you freeze chicken bhuna?
Yes, wait until it has cooled completely then store it in individual freezer containers. Defrost in the fridge overnight and then reheat in the microwave or on the hob.
What to serve with chicken bhuna?
I usually serve this with rice and sometimes with Indian breads too. These nigella seed flatbreads are delicious with it. My husband always likes some lime pickle on the side and it's also great with a raita, especially for anyone who wants to cool it down!
More takeaway curry recipes
If you like this chicken bhuna recipe then do check out my collection of homemade curry recipes. You might also like one of these takeaway copycat recipes:
Chicken Bhuna Curry
- 2 onions finely diced
- 5 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 tablespoon root ginger grated
- 1 chilli pepper finely diced
- 2 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 500 g chicken diced, breast or thighs
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 3 tablespoon fresh coriander (cilantro)
- Heat a little oil in a large saucepan and add the onion. Cook gently for at least 15-20 minutes until softened and slightly browned.
- Stir in the garlic, ginger and chilli pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes.
- Stir in the ground spices. If the pan is too dry add a tablespoon of water, just so they blend into the onions and don't burn.
- Stir in the chicken pieces. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally so they brown a little on all sides.
- Dice the tomatoes and put them in a jug. Blend them with a hand blender and then pour into the pan.
- Stir well. Bring up to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle with coriander to serve. You can stir some into the curry if you like too. Serve with rice or Indian breads.