Easy, warming and delicious, this Slow Cooked Lamb Bhuna is perfect for chilly autumn and winter days. Only 10 mins prep and then let your oven or slow cooker take the strain until you are ready to eat. Make double and freeze the rest and you’ll have an even easier meal for a busy day in the future!
Are you a fan of slow cooking? Those who regularly follow my blog will know I definitely am! Why spend hours faffing around at the stove, when you can spend just a few minutes prepping your meal and let the oven or the slow cooker do the rest?
Lamb works so well in a slow cooker, or slow cooked in an oven, as that long slow cooking process makes the lamb super tender, which means that you can use one of the more economical cuts of lamb, such as shoulder or breast. It’s fantastic either done as a whole joint, such a slow roast shoulder of lamb, or diced and cooked in a stew or tagine. But one of my all-time favourite slow cooking recipes has to be a slow cooked lamb curry.
Lamb curries are just made for slow cooking – not only does the meat get really tender but the sauce is totally transformed by the slow cooking process, from something very ordinary (a tin of tomatoes, a few spices, a couple of onions and some garlic) to something quite extraordinary – with hardly any effort at all!
As always when creating an easy peasy version of a well-known dish, I started by doing some research and discovered (as is so often the case) that there are almost as many different recipes for Lamb Bhuna as there are cooks! But many of the recipes had similar spicing and other ingredients, so I have taken the most popular ingredients to use in my Slow Cooked Lamb Bhuna.
What sets the bhuna style of curry apart from other curries, however, is the way it is usually cooked – the lamb is first slow cooked in the sauce until tender, and then the curry is fried on a high heat to reduce the sauce and intensify the flavour. The result is a rich, spicy curry with soft tender chunks of lamb and a fairly dry sauce that clings to the meat.
Not being one for extra faff, I have skipped out this last step of frying my slow cooked curry on a high heat. Instead I have tried to use the smallest amount of liquid possible in this curry and plenty of spices to achieve a similar style, without the added hassle!
If you have more time and patience than me, and want a slightly more authentic lamb bhuna, then you could absolutely reinstate this last step. Simply take the slow cooked curry, tip it into a hot frying pan or wok and fry it, stirring regularly, until the sauce has reduced to your liking.
But that really is a very optional extra step, which seems like a little too much hassle for me and rather unnecessary on a busy weeknight, especially given how great this curry already tastes! The lamb bhuna you see in these pictures was just slow cooked and served straight out onto plates with no extra frying, and I can assure you it was absolutely delicious – and my family clearly thought so too as it was clean plates all round!
As I was serving this up on a busy midweek evening, I went for very simple accompaniments to this curry – just some plain basmati rice (with a teaspoon of turmeric in the cooking water because my kids go mad for ‘yellow rice’) and a simple cucumber raita.
But if you want to get a bit fancier, you could serve this with my Easy Peasy Pilau Rice and a delicious Indian style salad such as my Kachumbar Salad. Alternatively if you are trying to keep the calories down at the moment, then why not try my Pilau Cauliflower Rice instead?
As with all my curries, this is very much a mild to medium curry – as that’s about as hot as my kids can cope with! However, if you like your curries hotter, do add in a little extra chilli to your liking.
I have given instructions below for slow cooking this curry in an oven and a slow cooker, so you can decide which fits best into your lifestyle. This curry will take 2 hours in a conventional oven, 6 hours in a slow cooker set on high and 8-10 hours on a slow cooker set on low. If you are cooking this in a large slow cooker, you may well find you have to make double to ensure you have a big enough quantity in your slow cooker to make it work.
In any case, you may wish to make a double quantity of this curry as it freezes brilliantly and means you can have a near instant meal next time – simply defrost the lamb bhuna in the fridge and then fry it up in a hot frying pan until piping hot all the way through – and as a bonus you will have made this curry even more authentic by doing so!
I would personally pair this delicious lamb curry with a robust and fruity red such as an Argentinian Malbec or young Rioja (look out for the words Joven or Crianza on the bottle). Alternatively this would go well with a Zinfandel from the USA and, if you don’t make it too spicy, a Chilean Merlot. If you prefer beer, this would go well with an Indian Pale Ale.
Slow Cooked Lamb Bhuna
- 2 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
- 2 onions sliced
- 3 cloves garlic crushed or grated
- 2 cm ginger grated
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 600 g diced lamb
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander cilantro plus extra for garnish
- Basmati rice and / or naans to serve
Preheat your oven to 160C/140C fan/gas mark 3/325F (or use your slow cooker – see below).
Place the oil and sliced onions in a medium pan and fry on a low heat, with the lid on, for 5 minutes until softened.
Remove the lid and add the garlic, ginger and chilli flakes and cook for 1 more minute.
Next add the cumin, coriander and garam masala and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring regularly – add a small splash of water if the pan gets too dry, to ensure your spices don’t burn.
Next add the diced lamb, tomatoes and salt and bring to the boil.
Transfer the curry to an oven proof dish with a lid, and place it in your preheated oven for 2 hours.
Alternatively transfer the curry in your slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.
When your curry is ready, stir in the fresh coriander and serve with rice and/or naan breads and all your favourite accompaniments.
For greater authenticity, take the slow cooked curry and place it into a hot frying pan or wok and fry it, stirring regularly, until the sauce has reduced to your liking.
Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
This is a collaborative post with the ‘LAMB. Tasty Easy Fun’ campaign. ‘LAMB. Tasty Easy Fun’ is an EU funded campaign which aims to increase the use of lamb in everyday cooking. Lamb is often considered difficult to cook, expensive, or something to be saved for Sunday roasts. The aim of the campaign is to demonstrate just how tasty, easy and fun lamb is to cook with every day of the week! They also have a wonderful website, full of tasty and easy lamb recipes that go way beyond the traditional roast lamb we all know and love.
Love Lamb? Check out my collection of Easy & Delicious Lamb Recipes
Need more curry inspiration? Check out my collection of Easy Peasy Curry Recipes
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