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How To Make British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Style Lamb Bhuna

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This restaurant style lamb bhuna will get you great restaurant style results.

I have made a lot of beef and lamb bhuna curries over the past year. The authentic Indian bhunas are quite a lot harder to make than this restaurant style bhuna. Bhuna cooking is a style of cooking in India where hot oil is used to release the flavours of a long list of spices before adding raw meat – often cut into small pieces on the bone.

Once the meat is added, stock or water is sprinkled into the pan in small amounts which is then cooked into the meat.

This process is repeated for an hour or more until the meat becomes fall off the bone tender and the flavour in the resulting dry curry is out of this world.

lamb bhuna curry

Delicious with a thick gravy that is perfect picked up with a naan or chapati.

How is curry house style lamb bhuna different?

Authentic bhuna cooking as mentioned above would not be possible in a busy Indian curry house so the recipe has been changed.

BIR lamb bhuna is still a dry curry with a rich thick gravy but it is made in a fraction of the time as cooked meat is used instead of slow cooking raw meat.

Also, at curry houses, a base curry sauce is used which becomes the sauce for the curry. This too is a time saver but it also gives the lamb bhuna its unique curry house flavour and texture.

Many Indian restaurants add a drop or two of red food colouring to this dish which gives the meat an attractive pink glow. I didn’t do this but you can if you wish. 

The food colouring adds no flavour but it does look good. 

What do you serve lamb bhuna with?

If you’d like to make this curry into a feast, you’ve come to the right place. You could just go for a side of Basmati rice or mushroom fried rice.
If you’d like to make naans, why not try one of these?  Instant naans, Peshwari naans, stove top naans, keema naans, garlic naans, tandoor naans (if you have a tandoor oven), or if you’re cooking outdoors, karahi naans. Oh, and really easy but just as delicious are homemade chapatis.

You might also like to serve up an easy curry house style tarka dal or slowly cook dal makhani.

Want to start your lamb bhuna off meal right? How about fried shop bought poppadoms or if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own poppadoms from scratch and serve them with coriander chutney, red onion chutney, and/or tamarind chutney.

Forward Planning

As with most of my British Indian restaurant style curries, you will want to pre cook your meat and make a base sauce first. Once this is done, you can literally cook this lamb bhuna curry in under 10 minutes.

It is always a good ideas to prepare your ingredients before starting cooking.

You don’t want to have to start looking for ingredients when that pan is hot.

Ingredients for lamb bhuna

Curry Sauce

I have written a large and small version of my curry sauce recipe which will need to me made before cooking this recipe.

The large version is made just like they do in the best curry houses. Make a large batch for best results. It keeps in the fridge for three days and freezes well.

The small batch version works well too though it’s not as authentic.


I pre-cook meat in two ways. Most restaurants slow cook their meat in a spicy sauce such as this one for this recipe. They usually swirl in a little of the cooking juices too for extra flavour.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you might like to add tandoori lamb tikka instead.

There is another option too if you’re in a rush. Simmer the meat in your base sauce until it is really tender. 

Don’t rush this! Simmering the meat in the base sauce will also give the sauce a delicious meaty flavour. 

Following are some step by step photos I took of the cooking process.

Frying onions, peppers and chillies

Heat the oil over medium-high heat and fry the onion, bell pepper and and chillies for about 5 minutes

Adding garlic and ginger paste to the pan

Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and let it fry for about 30 seconds.

stirring in the tomato puree

Stir in the tomato puree and bring to a bubbling simmer.

Adding base curry sauce to the pan

Stir in a ladle or two of the base sauce. This is a dry curry but you can add more from time to time if the curry is looking too dry.

adding meat to the pan

Add the pre-cooked lamb to the pan. You can add more base sauce if needed. Only stir if the sauce is sticking to the pan.

Simmering lamb bhuna

As the curry simmers, the base sauce with caramelise to the side of the pan. Scrape this in for more flavour. Season with salt to taste to serve.


Here are more curry house curry favourites you might like to try!

Chicken Korma
Chicken Madras
Chicken Dhansak
Lamb Rogan Josh
Lamb Vindaloo
Chicken Chilli Garlic
Chicken Patia


Yield: 2

How To Make British Indian Restaurant (BIR) Style Lamb Bhuna

lamb bhuna curry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 2 tbsp ghee or rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1/2 onion - finely chopped
  • 1/4 red bell pepper - diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp coriander (cilantro) stalks - finely chopped
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp mixed powder
  • 1 tbsp tandoori masala
  • 250ml (1 cup) base sauce
  • 300g (11oz) pre-cooked lamb
  • 1 tbsp natural plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp coriander (cilantro) leaves - finely chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 red spur chilli - cut into thin rings
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat the ghee or oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. When visibly hot, add the chopped onion and bell pepper and fry them for about four minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste along with the coriander stalks and fry for a further 30 seconds
  3. Stir in the tomato puree and when it begins to simmer, stir in the mixed powder and tandoori masala, followed by about half of the base sauce.
  4. Bring this to a simmer and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, only stirring if the sauce is sticking to the pan. As it simmers, the sauce will caramelise to the side of the pan. Stir this into the sauce for additional flavour.
  5. Stir in the pre-cooked lamb and stir to coat with the sauce. Simmer for a couple of minutes.
  6. Increase the heat to high and add the remaining base sauce. Continue simmering until you have a really thick sauce.
  7. To finish, reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the yoghurt. Check for seasoning and add salt to taste. Top with the fresh coriander and serve with a good squeeze of lime juice and garnish with the spur chilli rings.

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 I hope you enjoy this lamb bhuna recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.


Saturday 9th of September 2023

Thank you so much, Dan. This recipe is outrageously good. As are all on your website. My lovely wife complains at how the freezer is now full of base sauce but she loves the results of my cooking! Thanks for making me look good!

Dan Toombs

Monday 11th of September 2023

Great to hear David! Thank you.


Stevie connolly

Sunday 17th of July 2022

Dan ,Tried this and the results were bang on just followed the book to the tee . Slight tweek cooked lamb from raw and reduced and added stock several times until lamb was soft as .Can't see past this curry book (bible) at the moment . Glasgow knows its curries and this was spot on . ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘ณโ€โ™‚๏ธ

Caroline Toombs

Friday 22nd of July 2022

Great to hear, thanks very much for letting me know. Dan


Saturday 11th of September 2021

Made a huge batch of the base yesterday and the bhuna tonight. Absolutely amazing can't wait to taste your other curries.

Dan Toombs

Sunday 12th of September 2021

Thank you so much, good to hear. Dan


Thursday 29th of July 2021

Hi Dan.

Fantastic recipes, May l ask you a question please, regarding rhe left over sauce from the pre cooked meat.

Can l re use this sauce to cook my next batch of meat, and if l can how many times would l be able to do this.

I look forward to hearing from you, and thank you

Regards Antony

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 3rd of August 2021

Thank you, glad you are enjoying my recipes. I would be careful about re-heating the sauce too many times. If stored correctly I think you would be OK using one more time. Dan

Robert Kennedy

Tuesday 6th of October 2020

I moved to America 7 years ago and I'm extremely glad I stumbled across this website. I just wanted to say I made this at the weekend and it tasted amazing, just like a proper English takeaway curry. I made a few changes just based on what I had lying around in the house but the end result was amazing. I hope to always have this website to hand, its such an invaluable resource living in America where the Indian food is sub par as a whole.

Dan Toombs

Sunday 18th of October 2020

Great to hear, thanks very much. Dan

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