chicken bhuna masala

Chicken Bhuna Masala

By Swasthi on April 7, 2023, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Chicken Bhuna is a Classic North Indian dish of chicken stir fried & slow cooked in a spicy & fragrant Bhuna Masala. These succulent pieces of chicken are coated with a super aromatic & finger-licking good sauce. Chicken Bhuna goes well with steamed rice, Jeera rice, roti, Chapati, Naan, Pav or any artisan bread. It also goes well with flavored rice dishes.

chicken bhuna masala

About Chicken Bhuna

The word “Bhuna” refers to a specific cooking method which means “To Fry” or “Sauté”. Usually a basic onion tomato masala known as Bhuna Masala is first prepared by gently frying the spices, onions and tomatoes until aromatic.

Later chicken is also fried along with this masala and then slow-cooked until tender and succulent. Here the word fry does not mean deep frying.

Usually no liquid is added while cooking, meaning the chicken is cooked in its own juices. However I find adding a little amount of liquid helps bring out the flavors of the bhuna masala & also keeps the chicken succulent without drying out. So my recipe uses a little amount of water.

Also known as Bhuna Chicken, this is basically a dry dish meaning a thick sauce (Bhuna Masala) clings on to the cooked chicken rather than chicken swimming in a gravy.

Though the ingredients used to make chicken bhuna & a basic Chicken Curry are same, the method of cooking is what makes the dish taste & smell different.

This Bhuna Chicken has a perfect balance of spice, tang and heat. To make it less hot, reduce the quantity of chili powder. I use a small amount of yogurt which contributes to the tang and flavor of the bhuna masala. If you want you can make it dairy free by leaving out the yogurt or replace with plant based yogurt.

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How to Make Chicken Bhuna (Stepwise Photos)


1. To a mixing bowl add the spices mentioned below:

  • 1 ½ to 3 teaspoon Kashmiri Red chilli powder
  • 2 to 3 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fennel powder

2. Mix them very well.

3. Take 1 kg Chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add ½ tablespoon ginger garlic paste ,½ to ¾ teaspoon salt & 1 tablespoon Lemon juice. You can use chicken of choice. I use curry cut bone-in chicken. You can also use a mix of drumsticks & cut thighs. Make gashes over larger pieces of chicken so the flavors are well absorbed.

4. Add half of the ground spices we mixed earlier (from step 1& 2). Mix well to marinate. Cover and rest aside until needed later in the recipe. You can also leave it overnight up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Make Bhuna Masala

5. Pour ¼ cup oil to a hot wok. Add 2 cups fine chopped onions & 1 to 2 slit or chopped green chilies.

6. Fry the onions on a medium high heat until golden, for about 7 to 8 mins. Add ¾ teaspoon salt and reduce the heat to medium low.

7. Stir fry until completely golden but not burnt. Add 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute.

8. Reduce the heat completely. Add the rest of the ground spices we mixed in steps 1 & 2. Fry for a minute.

9. Add the 1 cup deseeded & chopped tomatoes (or pureed). I also prefer to peel the tomatoes before chopping.

10. Fry until the tomatoes turn mushy and completely soft. At this stage you should be able to see a little oil release from the masala.

11. Whisk half cup yogurt in a bowl until smooth. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the onion tomato masala to the yogurt. Stir well.

12. Reduce the heat to the lowest and pour the yogurt to the wok.

13. Mix well and saute.

14. After a while the yogurt cooks down and the bhuna masala turns thick. It also releases fats which means it is well cooked.

Stir Fry Chicken

15. While the bhuna masala is getting done, you can start this on another burner. Pour 1 tablespoon ghee or oil to a wide hot pan or wok & add 2 dried red chilies. Fry them for 30 to 40 seconds. Add 1 bay leaf, 1 black cardamom, 4 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon and 4 green cardamoms. If you want you can add half teaspoon cumin seeds. I do not use.

Be careful the whole spices can splutter in the oil/ghee and splash all over. So be fast and add the chicken.

16. Add the marinated chicken and fry on a high heat until the chicken turns pale, for 2 to 3 mins.

17. You will see the chicken releases juices, it is just okay. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to fry for 2 to 3 mins.

Make Bhuna Chicken

18. Transfer the chicken to the bhuna masala along with the ghee and the chicken juices.

19. Mix well and fry for 2 to 3 mins. At this stage you may add 2 tablespoons coriander leaves. I forgot to add.

20. Cover and cook on a low heat, until the chicken is fully cooked and tender. If you feel the masala is sticking to the wok or about to burn you may splash little hot water. I do about ¼ cup, pour on the sides and not over the chicken.

21. When the chicken is fully soft and tender, taste test and add more salt or more garam masala if you want. Also add 1 ½ tablespoon crushed kasuri methi.

Delicious Chicken Bhuna is ready. Garnish with coriander leaves.

chicken bhuna recipe

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Recipe Card

chicken bhuna recipe

Chicken Bhuna Masala Recipe

Bhuna Chicken is a delicious North Indian dish of chicken cooked in a spicy and flavorsome sautéed/ fried masala. Serve it over steamed rice or with flatbreads.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings4 to 5
Diet : Gluten Free

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 1 kg (2.2 lbs) chicken (curry cut chicken or drumsticks & cut thighs)
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (for chicken)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 to 2 black cardamoms
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 inch cinnamon
  • 2 dried red chilies (optional)
  • 2 cups chopped onions (2 medium)
  • 1 to 2 green chilies (slit)
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (or pureed, 1 medium tomato)
  • tablespoon ginger garlic paste (or grated) (divided ½ + 1)
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more to adjust)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon black pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1 ½ to 3 teaspoon Kashmiri Red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon fennel powder
  • ½ cup yogurt (not sour, fresh curd)
  • 1 ½ tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • ¼ cup Coriander leaves (fine chopped to garnish)


  • In a bowl mix together all the ground spices – red chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, black pepper & fennel powder. Keep aside.
  • Add chicken to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt and half of the ground spices we just combined. Pour lemon juice.
  • Mix together to marinate the chicken. Cover and set aside until used later in the recipe or overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Meanwhile slit the green chilli. Chop onions & begin to cook from the next step. While you sauté the onions deseed & chop tomatoes. Grate ginger & garlic if you do not have the paste. This saves some time.

Make Bhuna Masala

  • Heat oil in a wok or a skillet/ pan on a medium flame.
  • Add onions and green chilies. Saute on a medium high heat for 6 to 7 minutes and then on a medium low until golden brown but not burnt.
  • Add ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute until the raw smell has gone.
  • Stir in the rest of the ground spices and saute for a minute.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and salt. Cook until they dry out, blend well with onions & begin to release oil.
  • Take 2 tbsps of the hot onion tomato masala and add it to the whisked yogurt. Mix well until well combined.
  • Reduce the heat and slowly add this to the pan and saute until the yogurt cooks down and the bhuna masala turns thick.
  • Meanwhile (while bhuna masala cook) in another pan, heat 1 tablespoon ghee.
  • Add the red chilies and let them fry for 30 to 40 seconds.
  • Add all the whole spices – bay leaf, black cardamoms, green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, dried red chilies & cumin seeds. (Be careful as the spices splutter)

How to Make Chicken Bhuna

  • Transfer the chicken. Fry on a medium high heat for 2 to 3 mins and then on a medium to low heat for another 2 to 3 mins. Turn off.
  • Add the bhuna chicken & 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves (optional) to this masala and continue to saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Cover and cook on a low heat, until the chicken is fully cooked and tender. If you feel the masala is sticking to the pan or about to burn you may splash little hot water. I do about ¼ cup, pour on the sides and not over the chicken.
  • Taste test and adjust salt. Sprinkle crushed kasuri methi. Garnish with coriander leaves.


  1. For a dairy free dish, you may skip the yogurt or add 4 tablespoons of nut yogurt.
  2. You can also fry the chicken directly in the masala without doing it in another pan. But the flavors & texture is different.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.


Watch Chicken Bhuna Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Chicken Bhuna Masala Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 561 Calories from Fat 351
% Daily Value*
Fat 39g60%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Trans Fat 0.2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 8g
Monounsaturated Fat 18g
Cholesterol 134mg45%
Sodium 645mg28%
Potassium 1055mg30%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 36g72%
Vitamin A 1243IU25%
Vitamin C 92mg112%
Calcium 216mg22%
Iron 7mg39%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Chicken Bhuna Masala

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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
Tasted excellent and it was easy to make!
I doubled the quantities for the masala and served with rice.

5 stars
No one likes chicken curry, but this was the bomb!! The only thing we changed was the amount of chilli.
Served it with your Indian yellow rice.
Surely will be making this again! Thank you.

5 stars
Hi, can you please explain the quantity in grams of onions and tomatoes?
It’s very confusing to understand medium/large as that greatly differs from region to region. Thank you!!

5 stars
Absolutely delicious recipe!!!
Tastes authentic and full of flavour 😊 thank you xx

5 stars
Love this recipe so much! Other online recipes seem so bland in comparison.

I have two questions:

– Can I use a butter and oil mix to caramelise the onion? Even to fry the chicken. Imagining the flavours would be even more sumptuous!
– Please prepare yourself for the following sacrilegious comment, but I never hear of adding fish sauce to Indian recipes. I tried adding a dash to this when I made it for the second time and it gave me that ‘umami’ flavour I was after. Is there a reason it is not used in Indian cooking?

Many thanks!

5 stars
Absolutely delicious recipe! Easy to follow the instructions. My husband now wants it all the time. Thank you for posting it.


what type of oil are you using in this recipe?

5 stars
Let me make it then I can post

5 stars
Made this yesterday, it’s absolutely delicious. Family said it’s the best curry I’ve ever made. Followed your instructions exactly. Fail safe and now in my cooking rota. Than you

5 stars
The best ever recipie! And the best chicken I’ve ever had. Followed it word to word for most part. Only improvised slightly, by using slightly less oil and more bhuna masala quantity. Came out so delicious! It’s so simple and yet so amazing. Thank you for the recipie. You are my star!! Please post more recipies of chicken and fish.

5 stars
I made this last night and it was amazing. I have to make a bigger batch next time!

5 stars
Another winner! Your recipes are fantastic. I love that you add the quantities in the step-by-step portion so I don’t have to scroll up and down. My son loved it so much he asked if I could put this recipe on regular rotation. Thank you!

5 stars
I never made a curry this good. Tasted fantastic with your chapatis.