The meat here is slow cooked with loads of spices. It is a deliciously rich dish.
Bhuna is not a recipe; it is a process similar to braising – the meat is slowly cooked and simmered for hours along with the spices. The slow cooking and browning gives it a complex flavor and a rich texture.
It is not everyday that I get the luxurious time to make a dish which takes about 2-3 hours to cook. But the time and the effort is really worth it, The easy way out is to use the pressure cooker of course and that is what I usually do. One has to agree that there is an old time charm of food simmering away on the stove for hours, with the aroma of the saffron, cinnamon and other spices dancing and wafting around the house – all of it when you have time. Bhuna Gosht (gosht=mutton) is one of those elegant dishes which will win you heart over right away – tender juicy pieces of meat coated with spices and richly aromatic sauce. And it joyfully reminds me of my childhood and the weekends and the hearty flavors of lunch.
Now with the day that feels like it just dawned at 11 o clock at night – (I do not know where and how a day just went by), the children squawking continuously at the background and all the rush of running around with different activities and schedules, it feels good to sit down for a nice meal and feels even better that I found time to finally make it – for my kids heart Bhuna Gosht
Any kind of meat may be used here and cooked in the exact same way. The only difference would be the cooking time as if you use chicken it will obviously cook faster than goat meat, lamb or beef.
Bhuna Gosht/Spiced Braised Meat
2 lbs mutton (goat meat or lamb), bones and meat – cut into 2.5 inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 medium onion, grated
For the sauce:
- 6-8 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 sticks cinnamon, about 1.5 inch each
- 4 green cardamom, seeds shelled out
- 3 big black cardamom
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon mace
- a pinch of good quality saffron, crushed
- 2 cups onions, thinly sliced
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 2 inch fresh ginger
- 3-4 fresh green chili peppers
- 2 big fresh tomatoes, grated or 6 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 tablespoon red chili powder
- fresh lime/lemon and fresh cilantro/coriander for garnish
Wash the meat and pat dry.
Combine all the ingredients of the marinade and combine with the meat; toss and let it sit for about 2 hours or overnight if you can.
Make a paste with the tomatoes, chili peppers, ginger and garlic. Set aside.
Heat oil in a deep thick bottomed pan preferably with a dome cover -( the dome cover easily allows the steam to fall back in the pan and will keep the contents moist).
Add the cinnamon sticks, and the green cardamoms. In about half a minute when the spices sizzle, remove the pieces of meat from the marinade (save the marinade) and add it to the pan in a single layer. Cook/brown them on all sides while tossing them when each side has light brown spots on them and when most of the water has evaporated. This might take about 10-12 minutes. Next add the sliced onion and the teaspoon of sugar in the pan. Cook everything together at high heat till the onions start to caramelize/turn golden brown and releases no more water.
Combine the red chili powder, turmeric, tomato, ginger and garlic paste with the marinade and 1/2 cup of water.This is the liquid spice mix which will combine with the onions to make the final sauce.
Once the onion starts to brown, add the bay leaves, nutmeg, mace, saffron and the split black cardamoms to the pan. Lower the heat, and add the above ginger garlic tomato mix the pan. Cook the meat and the onions at low heat, often moving them around so they do not stick at the bottom. Whenever you see it get too dry, add a little bit of the liquid. Partially cover the pan in between cooking.
When all the liquid spice mix is gone, the meat in the pan should look like it has a thick coating of the onion and other mix.
Now add about 2 cups of water or just enough to cover the meat half way through, and cover the pan tightly. Cook at low – medium heat for about an hour. Occasionally stir the contents in the pan and scrape off any deposits at the bottom of the pan while it is getting cooked. Uncover and check to see if the meat is tender. If the liquid has reduced and the meat is still not cooked through, add some more water (about a cup) and cover as cook as before, till the meat is so tender that it comes off the bone. Depending on the kind of meat, it might take as long as 2 hours.
When done, the meat should be really tender and there should be some sauce/gravy left in the pan – about a couple of tablespoons of sauce for every piece of meat.
Drizzle some lemon juice and garnish with fresh coriander/cilantro.
Serve with rice, flat breads or nice crusty bread to dip in the sauce and mop it off.
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