This Chicken Bhuna is a rich, thick, and heavily flavored curry that is perfect for serving with naan bread. You can make it as spicy or as mild as you like.
There isn't lots of sauce with this curry; it is a wonderfully thick curry that coats and clings to the juicy chunks of chicken.
The key to the dish is to fry the onions and tomatoes really well to allow them to caramelize, and this thick, rich sauce is then used for cooking the chicken, which will release moisture as it cooks, leaving you with a thick flavor-packed curry.
These notes are here to help make this recipe a success; they cover some but not all ingredients; for a complete ingredient list, check out the recipe card below.
Onions: I like to use standard brown onions. But white or yellow onions will work.
Canned Tomatoes: You can use canned crushed tomatoes or canned chopped tomatoes. I prefer crushed.
Oil: Any neutral flavored oil will work. I use vegetable or canola oil.
Chicken: Use chicken thighs as they are juicy and stay tender. Because of how this dish cooks, it isn't suitable for chicken breasts.
Cayenne Pepper: This is optional; it adds heat to the dish; traditionally, they would use an Indian chilli powder, which is very different from American chili powder
Green Chili: This is optional; it is added fresh at the end, so can be left out or served in a bowl on the table for people to add themselves.
We've tested this recipe at least 3 times to ensure it works well for you, have a look at our tips for getting the best dish you can!
- Use a heavy-bottomed pan with a lid for your curry; this helps to disperse the heat and stop the curry from burning as it cooks.
- Don't cut the chicken up too small; large chunky pieces hold up best to the dry cooking method.
- When cooking the onions, you want them deep brown on the edges. Don't burn them, but they do want to have a heavy caramelization on the edges.
- The canned tomatoes are cooked down until they are quite dry; this intensifies the flavor, but again be sure not to burn them.
- Don't add water or broth. It will look dry at first, but as the chicken cooks, it releases moisture, and the curry becomes wetter.
Is Chicken Bhuna Spicy?
As written, this Chicken Bhuna is a medium-heat curry. But you can add or reduce the cayenne pepper and the green chili to taste. Leave them both out for a mild curry, or serve the green chili separately for people to spice up their own plates.
These are all just suggestions and things that have worked in our test kitchen, but it is your dinner, so adapt it to suit your family. That is the beauty of cooking; we can all create our own delicious meals.
- Make the chicken a little creamier by adding some natural yogurt at the end of the cooking.
- Add veg to your curry. Spinach is always a great addition, as is cauliflower.
- You can replace the canned tomatoes with 6 chopped fresh tomatoes.
Why you'll love this Chicken Bhuna
- It has an authentic taste.
- The meat is tender and packed with flavor.
- You can adjust the heat levels to suit your family.
- It reheats and keeps well, so it is great for making ahead or freezing.
We like to serve this curry with a side of pilaf and some naan bread.
I love the sweetness of my peshwari naan, the kids love garlic naan, and my partner loves the spicy bullet naan. Take your pick 😉
If you make this Chicken Bhuna, don't forget to come back and comment. You can also tag me on social media @sprinklesandsprouts
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
Get the Recipe
- ⅓ cup oil
- 2 large onions peeled and sliced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced
- 1 can crushed tomatoes (400g/14oz can)
- 4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 3 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon fennel powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 1.6 lb chicken thighs boneless and skinless
- green chili sliced into rings (optional)
- fresh cilantro optional garnish
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion; cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until the edges are starting to brown.⅓ cup oil2 large onions
- Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 30 seconds.6 cloves garlic1 tablespoon ginger
- Add the tomatoes and spices. Cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce is thick and the oil separates from the tomato.1 can crushed tomatoes4 teaspoon ground coriander3 teaspoon ground cumin2 teaspoon paprika1 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon turmeric½ teaspoon fennel powder½ teaspoon cayenne pepper½ teaspoon garam masala
- Add the chicken and stir it into the sauce so each piece is well coated.1.6 lb chicken thighs
- Turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes. (see note 1)
- Remove the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the chopped green chili if using, and serve garnished with cilantro.green chilifresh cilantro
- The curry will look very dry when you add the chicken, but it releases moisture and thins out the sauce as it cooks. If it starts to stick, add ¼ cup of chicken broth.
This was SUCH a cozy meal! I used some fresh tomatoes I grabbed at the farmers market last weekend instead of canned, but it was still so delicious. Hubs was licking that sauce right out of his bowl lol
I was a bit intimidated by this recipe at first but your instructions made it easy! The flavor was so impactful and you're right, you definitely want to serve it with naan to get all that sauce! I also served it with mango chutney because it's my fav lol
I made this but used a little chili powder instead of paprika, which I'm allergic to. Served with store-bought naan and some fresh cilantro. Loved it!
This was delicious!! The entire family loved it! Making it again next week.
I've made this recipe twice now and it's just so good! This is an intensely flavorful dish with, in my opinion, the perfect amount of spice. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the leftovers reheat like a dream. Next time I'm going to make extra just for the leftovers.
Elizabeth S says
It was so flavorful! The amount of spice was perfect and the chicken was moist on the inside. It turned out as pictured and I am so happy with it. My boyfriend and I will be making this again.
This Chicken Bhuna was so good and super flavorful! Served it with rice for dinner! I will make it again!
Jennifer Osborn says
This looks like a perfect chicken dish. I’m not a fan of overly saucy recipes.
Love curries! Will definitely be making this. Looks like I have all the ingredients needed. Looks absolutely delicious. Yum