Chicken Bhuna

Confession: I might have burnt this a little.


Chicken bhuna curry

Anyway, I’m sure you’ll forgive me, since I’m still giving you the recipe and unlike me, you’ll do it properly.

In many ways, this is a sort of poor man’s tandoori if you bake it in the oven, but of course nothing would do me but to barbecue the goddamn thing. Blame the sunshine. Blame the dear friends sharing it with me on the overgrown patio. Blame the beer, blame the wine, blame it on the boogie.

Does it matter?

Here’s a bhuna recipe and you can use it with anything. Meat, vegetables, captured vegans. It’s up to you.

For myself, I didn’t fancy going to all the effort of boning a vegan, so I bought some chicken instead and in the end we all agreed it tasted slightly veganish with nutty overtones and a strong demand to be heard.

The Spices

Cumin seeds : 2 spoons

Coriander seeds : 4 spoons

Mustard seeds : 2 spoons

Dried chillis to taste. I like it hot but you might not.

Fennel seeds: 2 spoons

Fenugreek seeds: 2 spoons

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

Stir them constantly on a heavy frying pan at medium heat. Not too high or they’ll produce a poison gas that will kill everyone in the house. Just enough heat to darken them slightly but not enough to burn them.

They should come out nicely browned. In fact, I think I might have overdone it a bit with this lot, but it worked out all right in the end.

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

When they’re roasted, fling them into a food processor or else grind them up with a mortar and pestle until you get a nice powder like this.

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

The Other Stuff

You need some onions, ginger and garlic.

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

Skin them, chop them up finely and fry them in light oil.

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

Add some curry leaves and some tomatoes.

Let me confess that I had no fresh curry leaves and no tomatoes, so I cheated and just tossed in some dried curry leaves and a couple of cartons of passata. It didn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference.

Chicken bhuna curry recipe

Add your spices.

Add your meat, whatever it is. In this case, I used chicken.

Let it all cook away until it reduces down to a thick paste and the meat is cooked through.


Now you have a choice. You can just serve the bhuna straight from the pan with any accompaniment you like. It might be rice, it might be chapatis or for that matter it might be chips. We won’t get precious about it.

On the other hand, you can bake it all in the oven and it will come out very like a tandoori.

I chose to barbecue it, which might not necessarily have been the best decision since I managed to scorch it, but at the same time, nobody was complaining. That might have been due to the beer, it might have been due to the sunshine or it might have been due to the laid-back music, but I like to think it was due to the delicious  food.

Chicken bhuna curry


One way or another, we won’t fall out over it. Have a beer.


Cooking Food & Drink

Mulligatawny Recipe

I bumped into a friend today who shares my interest in cooking.  He’s an excellent cook, much better than I am, but today he was looking a bit under the weather.  We’ll call him “John”.

Are you a bit under the weather, John? I asked him.

Jesus, I am, he croaked.  I was out till four in the morning, but I’m much better now.

Glad to hear it, I assured him as the conversation drifted around to other matters.

Do you know what I made last week? he said.

No, John.   How would I know what you made last week?   I don’t even know what you made yesterday.

Well, he perked up, as it happens, I made bacon and cabbage yesterday for the very first time in my life.

Comfort food, I observed.

Mmm-hmm, agreed the obscure hungover-looking character in the corner.

Not something I’m particularly fond of.

Mulligatawny recipeMe neither, said “John”, I just got a figary to do it, but anyway, last week I made kedgeree.

Kedgeree?  I was taken aback.   How very Raj of you.  But as it happens, I’ve found smoked fish to be a wonderful cure for hangovers.  There was a time, many years ago when we used to have all-night house-parties, and I always found that the perfect breakfast was a kipper and a bottle of Guinness.

Precisely, agreed “John”.  That kedgeree knocked my hangover for six, old chap, and then I bagged an elephant.  Kedgeree for tiffin.  Can’t beat it, old boy.

You’ve got me thinking, I told him.  Here’s a thing I haven’t had in yonks.  Mulligatawny.  I first had it in an East End restaurant run by a Bangladeshi wallah years and years back, and damn tasty it was too.   Maybe I’ll revive the old Bock recipe series and see how it goes.

Splendid! said “John”, brandishing a buffalo gun.  Tally-ho!


So here we go.

My ad-hoc Mulligatawny based on whatever I happened to have in the kitchen.

Now, here’s the thing about most recipes: you really can’t go wrong even if you don’t have all the stuff  because there’s no such thing as right and wrong ingredients.  In my case, the first Mulligatawny I ever had, back in the East End of London, had a strong lemon character to it and that’s what I continued to expect over the years, but another man’s recipe might be completely different and that’s fine too.  We make it up as we go along, based on what we have.

For this, you’ll need some spices.  Cumin seed, haldi, cracked peppercorns and plain old curry powder.  I prefer hot but you might like it milder.  That’s fine. It’s up to you.  As a matter of fact, I might even toss in a load of hot chilli as well just to liven it up, but that’s me.  Live and let live.

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The next thing you’ll need is some onions, some carrots and a few garlic cloves.

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Now.  When you have these all chopped up, you should fry them in clarified butter, although to be honest, unclarified butter is fine too as long as you don’t make it too hot and burn it.

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Fry them away gently until they’re soft, and at the same time, put on a pot of rice.  I prefer brown, but white is fine.  When we’re finished, we’ll mix the rice in with the sauce (or we might not, as I’ll explain in a little while).

When the onions, carrots and garlic are soft, you should toss in your spices and some flour to thicken things up.  Stir the whole lot around to get it well mixed.

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Now add some chicken stock and cook it all up until it thickens.  Let it cook away for a good while.

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Now you can chop up your chicken and cook it in some clarified butter.

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When you think the sauce is well cooked, throw in some natural yoghurt.  Some people use coconut milk, but I haven’t tried that so I don’t know what it would taste like.  I must  try it next time.  Other people throw in a couple of chopped Granny Smith apples, which sounds interesting.  Nothing like a bit of variety.

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Then add the chicken and the juice of half a lemon.  Maybe you’d prefer it to be a bit tangier but you can always add the other half if it’s not to your taste.  There are no hard and fast rules in this.

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Let this cook away for a while.   Go off and shoot an elephant, but don’t forget to drain the rice first.

When you get back, it will all be ready and you can serve it, but here’s where you have to make a decision.  Traditionally, Mulligatawny has the rice mixed into the entire dish, but these days not everybody wants to eat rice.

You could serve it mixed like this.

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But I think it would be better to offer it in two separate bowls, and let people decide for themselves how much rice they want mixed in with the sauce.  It’s only fair, really.

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Three other things.

First, you can always add more spice or other flavours later.  Play around with the proportions.  Nobody will arrest you for getting it wrong.

Second.  Before adding the chicken you could, if you wished, blend the whole lot to a smooth consistency, and that’s what I myself intended to do, but I forgot.

Third, you don’t need to add meat.  This would make a very tasty vegetarian dish if you substituted sweet potato or butternut squash, for instance.

Anyway.  Enjoy your Mulligatawny and let me know how you get on.