How To Make Chicken Bhuna Curry
- 125ml olive oil
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 green chillies, finely sliced
- 1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 200ml water
- 6 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into large cubes
- 3 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1½ tsp garam masala
- 3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
In a large wok or frying pan, heat half the oil over a medium temperature and sauté the onions and garlic until soft. Add the chillies, coriander seeds, cayenne pepper, ground coriander and turmeric and stir for a couple of minutes, then add the water to create a paste. Turn the heat to high and cook for 2 minutes, then add the chicken chunks and turn down the heat to low, season with salt and simmer for 10–15 minutes until the chicken is part cooked. Put in the tomatoes, ground ginger and turn up to a medium heat. Stir and keep a watchful eye, cooking for 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced and the tomatoes are more like a purée. Add the rest of the olive oil, stirring well to make sure the ingredients don’t stick, if needs be adding a touch more water. Cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes or until you notice the oil rising to the surface and the gravy has become a little thicker. Sprinkle in the garam masala, stir well and scatter with coriander leaves.
The Story of Chicken Bhuna
Asian families are like Agatha Christie novels – they go on for ever. This is mainly because they consist of friends of the family who become family members, i.e. ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’. They become ‘family’ from the moment they can pinch your cheeks in a vice-like grip between thumb and forefinger, whilst your parents urge you to smile through the ordeal. Uncle ‘this’ and Auntie ‘that’ earn their status through being a friend of the family. However, some earn a special place in our hearts. This was the case with the flamboyant Uncle Ikram, a Pakistani version of Woody Allen, and his wonderfully talented wife, Auntie Najma, whose prowess in the kitchen gave her licence to tweak my cheeks at will.
Visiting their house was like going to the circus. Uncle Ikram would act out the ringmaster role with theatrical aplomb – upturned hands and a slap on the back preceded with the exclamation, ‘Oh ho, guru!’ loosely translated as ‘All right, chief?’, which he’d reserve for male members of the family. As children, we’d master the fine art of competing on the carom board while the women caught up on missed gossip and the fellas reminisced by telling the same old jokes and stories, often led by Uncle Ikram. The smell and sight of dish after dish of the most exquisite spiced food would turn even the most virtuous diner into a fiendish glutton, and while the memories carry a 1970s sepia tone, the food is as vivid now as it was then. I've taken one of their signature dishes, an authentic Chicken Bhuna recipe which differs from the creamy, timid versions of chicken bhuna curry found in most Indian restaurants, this chicken curry is packed with vigour, depth and assertiveness.