Bhuna is one of the tastiest curry dishes around. If you haven't tried it before, you are in for a treat. The predominant flavour of a bhuna comes from the vast quantities of onions that are in the dish. If you are thinking of trying it but are averse to spice, you might be wondering how hot is a bhuna? Well, today I'm going to tell you everything you need to know about this delicious curry!
Stuck for Time? Here's How Hot a Bhuna is…
Bhuna is a medium to hot curry. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the hottest, bhuna will sit somewhere in the range of 6/10. It does contain chilli, but in smaller quantities than the truly hot curries such as madras or vindaloo. It is a dish that has a thick dark sauce that consists mostly of fried onions with a few extra spices thrown in for good measure.
If you want to know more about a Bhuna, read on…
What is a Bhuna Curry?
As with a Jalfrezi, 'Bhuna' actually refers to how the curry is cooked instead of the dish's flavours. It has become a very popular dish in British Indian Restaurant cooking. You'll find it on most menus in takeaways and curry houses.
The term you'll see in menus comes from the Urdu word bhunna. This simply means 'fried' or perhaps 'browning'.
Bhuna curry is normally really dark in colour with a thick and very tasty gravy. You can get a clue as to how it is prepared by looking at the translation. The spices contained within the dish are fried until they go dark.
This is supplemented by fried onions which also add to both the flavour and texture of the dish.
It is nowhere near as 'saucy' as a traditional curry. The sauce is generally cooked down until thick. It is generally quite an oily curry.
What Ingredients Go into a Bhuna?
A classic BIR style Bhuna actually contains quite a lot of ingredients. It can vary from restaurant to restaurant, but generally, you can expect to find
- Oil or ghee
- Meat or seafood (either lamb, chicken or prawns)
- Garlic and ginger
- Tomato paste
- A simple curry powder
- Cumin and garam masala
- A rich onion based gravy
Around 1 chilli pepper… That's right, it does contain a little chilli. This isn't enough to make it truly fiery. But if you are prone to feeling the heat, you will definitely tell it's in there.
You'll read some recipes that suggest chefs use yoghurt in bhuna.
I promise you, this is not the way. A genuine BIR Bhuna recipe definitely doesn't include yoghurt. I've seen it made first hand, and yoghurt never went near the pan.
As we discovered, 'bhuna' means roast or fry… This would indicate that there's a fair bit of heat in the pan…
If you add dairy to a pan that is too hot, it tends to split and curdle.
Would you eat a curry that is full of curdled yoghurt?
No, me neither!
What is a Bhuna Like?
Bhuna is, hands down, one of the tastiest curries out there.
Because the spices are fried, they tend to darken in colour and release all of their flavours into the oil or ghee. They also tend to be a lot more intense, so if you are looking for strong flavours, a bhuna might be the way to go!
The tomato is used sparingly. A bhuna is nowhere near as tart or tangy as a dish such as madras or Jalfrezi.
This will depend on the chef, but in the restaurant I used to work in, they cooked onions down until they were a deep golden brown colour. They tend to cook down further when the sauce elements are added. It has a strong taste of onions.
You may notice the absence of chilli powder… There's a good reason for this. When you cook spices, they tend to intensify in flavor. If you were to add chilli powder, along with the fact that you fry the spices for longer, you'd get an insanely hot curry!
And here's the thing…
Bhuna isn't meant to be insanely hot.
Is Bhuna a Hot Curry?
Bhuna does contain some chilli, this twinned with the roasting of the curry spices before cooking, means that it can be a little hot.
I would definitely describe this dish as 'medium'. It's not going to be unpleasant, but for those who struggle with heavily spiced dishes, it might leave you feeling pretty hot under the collar.
When you eat a bhuna, it is all about enjoying the curry's flavours, as opposed to the heat. It certainly isn't the fieriest curry out there.
Is Bhuna Hotter than a Jalfrezi?
Quite simply, no, it isn't.
If you've seen my article on Jalfrezi, you'll already know that it sits somewhere around the same level of spice as a madras. Some even say that Jalfrezi is as hot as a vindaloo (which is nonsense by the way)!
A bhuna doesn't come anywhere close to a Jalfrezi or a madras in terms of heat. It couldn't possibly be, due to the lack of chilli and chilli powder in the dish.
Which is the Hottest Indian Curry?
So, you asked the question, how hot is a bhuna? Because you are looking for a bit of heat?
If you are on the lookout for a red hot curry, you won't go wrong by choosing either a vindaloo or phaal.
If you haven't ever tried a phaal, you are in for a treat, in more ways than one!
If you want to know what's in a phaal, I've actually got an authentic BIR Phaal recipe right here. It's crazy hot…
Don't say I didn't warn you.
How hot is a Bhuna? The answer is that it is a medium dish with a moderate amount of heat. A lot of spice comes from the fact that the dry ingredients are cooked until dark and fragrant. It only contains a small amount of chilli. But even so, it is a very intensely flavoured dish.
Are you a real spice lover? Or do you prefer something a little milder? Got curry questions? Drop a comment below? I love talking about curry!
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