Chicken Bhuna is a rich North Indian curry made with succulent chicken pieces cooked in flavorful bhuna masala made of onions and tomatoes. This chicken curry has a thick gravy which clings to the chicken pieces, making it perfect to serve with naan.

Chicken bhuna garnished with ginger and cilantro
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!

Chicken Bhuna is a popular Indian chicken dish to order at restaurants. It has simple everyday ingredients and is easy to make at home.

This curry isn’t soupy; instead, it’s nice and thick. The sauce sticks perfectly to the chicken pieces.

The secret? Cook the onions and tomatoes for a long time until they get sweet and caramelized. Then chicken is cooked in this thick, flavorful sauce. As the chicken cooks, it gives off moisture, making the curry even thicker and tastier!

Some people prefer to not use tomatoes when making chicken Bhuna. I like to add a little tomatoes, but feel free to leave them out as I do in my malai chicken curry.

You can also use my onion tomato bhuna masala to make this chicken bhuna. It will reduce the cooking time by a lot, making it perfect for a delicious weeknight dinner!

What does Bhuna Mean?

Bhuna refers to a specific way of cooking – it means “to fry” or “sauté.”

Making bhuna masala usually involves frying onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and spices in ghee or oil to make a thick, dry sauce. Then vegetables or meat are added to make a curry.

Chicken, curry Garnish with cilantro.

Why You’ll Love this Chicken Bhuna

✔ It has rich bold flavors

✔ Adjustable Spice Level

✔ Great for leftovers

✔ It is versatile – you can add veggies along with chicken.

Ingredients

Chicken: Use bone-in, skinless chicken pieces, such as thighs or drumsticks. These add more flavor to the curry. You can also make this curry with boneless chicken if you prefer.

Spices: We’ll make a special spice blend with coriander seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and cumin seeds.

Marination: Marinate the chicken in salt, turmeric, chili powder, and lime juice to make it tender and flavorful.

Curry Base: You’ll need oil, ghee, onions, ginger, garlic, and tomato.

Finishing Touches: Add more chili powder for heat, yogurt for creaminess, and fresh cilantro and julienned ginger for garnish.

Ingredients to make Chicken Bhuna

How to Make Chicken Bhuna Masala?

Make the Bhuna Masala Spice Blend

Heat a pan on low heat. Add the whole spices and dry roast for 3-5 minutes until you get the aroma.

fry whole spices in a pan
  • Let the spices cool, then transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
blended spices in the grinder

Marinate the Chicken

Mix the chicken with yogurt, salt, turmeric, chili powder, lime juice, and half of the bhuna masala. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

marinated chicken in a glass bowl

Sear the Chicken

Heat oil in a pan and add the marinated chicken.

fry marinated chicken

Cook the chicken pieces in hot oil until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

seared chicken in a pan to make bhuna chicken

Make the Bhuna Masala Sauce

In ghee, sauté cumin seeds, chilies, and onions.

add ginger and garlic into the pan

Add ginger, garlic, and tomato puree.

add tomato puree into the pan

Cook until the oil starts to separate.

cook tomato masala to make chicken bhuna

Simmer the Chicken

Add the chicken, remaining bhuna masala spice mix, and chili powder (optional) to the gravy and simmer for a few minutes.

Add seared chicken and spice in the pan

Stir in yogurt and cook for a couple of minutes.

add yogurt to chicken bhuna

Make sure to keep stirring continuously until the yogurt is incorporated.

cook chicken bhuna

Simmer and Serve

Cover and simmer the chicken on low heat for 10 minutes.

Chicken bhuna curry in a pan with spatula

Garnish with cilantro and julienned ginger, and enjoy!

Chicken bhuna in a bowl with naan on the side

Recipe Tips

Chicken: I recommend to use bone-in thighs/drumsticks or a cut up whole chicken. In a pinch, you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs.

Spice it up (or down): Adjust the chili powder according to your spice preference.

Bhunai: The most flavor in this recipe is from browning the onions and cooking the masala until the oil separates.

Yogurt: Use full-fat yogurt for the best flavor and creaminess.

Tomatoes: I prefer to puree fresh tomatoes in a blender. But you can use canned tomato puree as well.

Dairy-free: You can skip adding yogurt, and replace it with coconut milk.

Substitutions and Additions: You can use paneer or boiled eggs in the same gravy. You can add veggies such as spinach, bell peppers, carrots, or mushrooms if you like.

Storing Leftovers: Leftover Chicken Bhuna can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a pan. This curry will also freeze well.

How to Serve?

Chicken Bhuna is best served with roti, paratha or naan. Add a side of raita and kachumber salad. We also like to add a veggie stir fry along side for a complete meal.

You can also enjoy Chicken Bhuna is with fluffy basmati rice.

Chicken bhuna in a grey bowl garnished with cilantro

How to Store?

Chicken Bhuna will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. If you want to enjoy it further, freeze it for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, reheat gently on medium heat until warmed through in a microwave or a pan.

More Indian Chicken Recipes

No ratings yet

Chicken Bhuna

Chicken Bhuna is a rich North Indian curry made with succulent chicken pieces cooked in flavorful bhuna masala made of onions and tomatoes. This chicken curry has a thick gravy which clings to the chicken pieces, making it perfect to serve with naan.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 pound Chicken, bone-in, skinless, use some leg pieces

For spice mix (masala)

For Marination

For Curry

For garnish

  • Cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Ginger, julienned

Instructions 

Make Bhuna Masala

  • Heat a pan on low heat. Add the whole spices for the bhuna masala and dry roast for 3-5 minutes until you get the aroma. Let the spices cool, then transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.

Marinate Chicken

  • Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients under the marination section and half of the bhuna masala powder. Mix and set aside for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

Sear Chicken

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottom pan and add the marinated chicken pieces. Sear the chicken on high heat for 3-4 minutes to seal the juices. Take out in a bowl and set aside.

Make the Gravy

  • In the same pan, heat the ghee. Add the cumin seeds and dry red chilies. Saute for 30 seconds until cumin changes color.
  • Add the chopped onions. Sauté for 7-8 minutes on medium heat till the onions are golden brown.
  • Add the ginger and garlic, and saute for a minute until the raw smell is gone. Add the tomato purée and saute for 5-6 minutes until the onion-tomato masala is cooked and the oil starts to separate.
  • Add the chicken, red chili powder, and the remaining bhuna masala powder. Mix well and saute on medium heat for about 3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and add the whisked yogurt. Mix well while stirring continuously. Cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes until the yogurt is incorporated.
  • Cover & cook the chicken on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times as needed.
  • Chicken bhuna is ready to be served. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and julienned ginger.

Notes

 
Chicken: I recommend to use bone-in thighs/drumsticks or a cut up whole chicken. In a pinch, you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs.
Spice it up (or down): Adjust the chili powder according to your spice preference.
Bhunai: The most flavor in this recipe is from browning the onions and cooking the masala until the oil separates.
Yogurt: Use full-fat yogurt for the best flavor and creaminess.
Tomatoes: I prefer to puree fresh tomatoes in a blender. But you can use canned tomato puree as well.
Dairy-free: You can skip adding yogurt, and replace it with coconut milk.

Nutrition

Calories: 258kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 26gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 540mgPotassium: 631mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 506IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 59mgIron: 2mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Pakistani
Diet: Gluten-free, Low Carb
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

You May Also Like

Get new recipes sent to your inbox!
Don't miss out! Subscribe and get all the new recipes first.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating