Tender pieces of chicken in a thick and intensely flavoured sauce are the signature notes for a Chicken Bhuna. This recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Bhuna doesn’t disappoint! Full of flavour from tomatoes, chillies and onion coated in a medley of spices; this medium heat curry isn’t just tasty but also amazingly quick to prepare.
Bhuna is a dish that we would order frequently when eating out at Indian restaurants. It’s got bags of flavour but it also tends it to be a lighter option as there isn’t fat or cream added to the sauce.
It’s usually a simple base of tomatoes, chillies and onions. I say usually, because rather like a Balti, it’s a dish that is open to some interpretation! There is no specific recipe which is widely followed.
A bhuna is more about encapsulating the key flavours and creating a beautifully spiced sauce that lets the ingredients really shine.
In fact, the recipe here was one of the first we had on Slow Cooker Club and has been a reader favourite for some time!
What ingredients are in a Bhuna?
Like many curries, the name Bhuna doesn’t foretell the ingredients of the dish, rather the method by which it is cooked. Bhuna is Urdu and literally means ‘to be fried’. It’s famous for being served with a sauce of fresh green chillies and onions.
The ingredients for slow cooker chicken bhuna are below. As you can see, the spice mix includes turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and fenugreek with extra zest from fresh ginger, green chillies, garlic and lemon. Delicious!
Green chillies are preferred as they give the sauce a mild sourness which blends perfectly against the tomatoes and spices. Chicken thighs are used as they stay really tender when cooked for longer in the slow cooker.
Why make a Chicken Bhuna in the Slow Cooker?
For starters, it’s really quick to produce a great tasting curry with very little effort. The prep of the ingredients takes little more than ten minutes and the sauce is a simple base of tomatoes. So it couldn’t get much easier!
Secondly, a crockpot chicken bhuna tastes fantastic after cooking for hours allowing the chicken to turn tender and the flavours to infuse. An important process for creating that authentic intensely flavoured sauce!
How spicy is Chicken Bhuna?
Bhuna is a medium heat dish, so you want a bit of a kick without numbing your mouth and not being able to taste the rest of the flavours!
In this recipe only fresh chillies provide the heat. As such, it’s a good idea to taste a tiny bit of the chilli raw before starting to cook. This avoids issues with either too much, or not enough spice later on.
If you find that your chillies are not up to the job of bringing fire to the pot, then you can also add in a little ground hot chilli – I would suggest starting with 1 teaspoon.
Steps to making the perfect Slow Cooker Chicken Bhuna
- Start by cutting the chicken thighs into thirds and adding to the pot.
- Add sliced onions to the chicken.
- Cover everything in the herb and spice mixture.
- Add the ginger, garlic, chopped chillies, tomato paste, and finely crumbled stock cube.
- Sprinkle over the cornflour and mix everything through well. This will help to create that thick glossy sauce!
- Now pour in the wet ingredients- chopped tomato and lemon juice. Stir through once more and cook!
More Hearty Slow Cooker Recipes
If you like the look of this meatloaf recipe, try these other hearty and delicious recipes:
Yes for up to three days in the fridge in an air tight container or three months in the freezer.
Chicken Bhuna goes well with freshly cooked basmati rice and naan or roti breads.
Slow Cooker Chicken Bhuna
- 500 g (1 lb) chicken thighs cut into thirds
- 1 large white onion or 2 small white onions
- 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
- 100 ml (0.5 cups) water
- juice of ½ lemon
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 green chillies seeds removed
- 2 tsp dried or chopped coriander (cilantro)
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1.5 tsp fenugreek ground
- 1 2cm (1inch) piece of fresh ginger finely chopped
- 1 chicken stock cube crumbled
- 2 tbsp corn flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Cut each chicken thigh into 3 pieces and place in the pot, then add the sliced onion.
- In a bowl mix together the garam masala, tumeric, fenugreek, coriander, salt, and cumin.
- Add the spice mix, sliced green chillies, garlic, ginger, sugar and tomato paste. Finely crumble the stock cube into the pot and mix everything together well.
- Sprinkle the cornflour to the pot and stir well.
- Add the water, lemon juice and chopped tomatoes and mix through.
- Cook on low for 5 hours or high for 3 hours.
Monday 20th of February 2023
Excellent recipe. Wouldn’t change a thing, although I used chicken breasts instead of thighs. Truly delicious.
Monday 23rd of January 2023
This chicken bhuna is delicious..on my favourites list.. I also made it on the stove..
Wednesday 18th of January 2023
This was bloody delicious, my partner and I used garlic and ginger paste, eye balled it, putting more in as I love it haha. But honestly sooo easy, we ate it without rice and had some airfryed onion bhajis to dunk.. I'm looking forward to the left overs for lunch!
Tuesday 22nd of November 2022
Hi, A great curry, from a person who cooks lot's of curries and buy's all the ingredients from the Asian stores around Bradford. I was a little sceptical at first but the taste was very good, keep to the recipe, will do again.
Tuesday 22nd of November 2022
Just made without chicken but replaced with vegetables to make a lovely vegetable curry. Rey very tasty. Thank you