Bhuna gosht is a type of meat curry that is popular in Pakistan and North India. This particular recipe uses boneless beef and is also called beef bhuna. It’s super easy to make resulting in a deeply flavourful dry style beef curry. The recipe includes both stove top and pressure cooker instructions.
Growing up, bhuna gosht was an Eid-ul-Adha (Bakra Eid) speciality in our house. Once the Qurbani was done, and the meat would come to our house my mom would make bhuna gosht for Eid lunch.
For those that don’t know, Eid-ul-Adha is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide. It honours the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to God's command. Before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this intervention, an animal is sacrificed ritually and divided into three parts. One share is given to the poor and needy, another is kept for home, and the third is given to relatives. In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, and lasts for three days.
What is Bhuna Gosht?
Bhuna gosht is a type of meat curry that is popular in Pakistan and North India. The term bhuna in the recipe name refers to the technique of cooking the meat. Gosht means meat, red meat to be exact, and hence this curry is usually made with lamb, mutton (goat meat) or beef. In our house, bhuna gosht used to traditionally be made in either mutton or beef, however, as the consumption of red meat in the house went down my mother had also started making bhuna chicken.
What does bhuna mean in Pakistani and Indian cooking?
Bhuna / bhunna / bhuno / bhunao is a cooking technique that is an integral part of Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi cooking, with almost every Desi recipe requiring bhunna at least once in the cooking process. The purpose of this technique is to incorporate the flavours of each ingredient together and to ensure that the masala is fully cooked.
In the first stage of cooking ingredients like onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and spices can require bhunna / bhunao to release their flavours. This could be to caramelise the onions, soften the tomatoes and brown the spices. Once the bhunna is complete, a thick masala paste is ready to which the main ingredient can be added.
The bhunna process is also important in cooking meat and poultry to ensure that the juices get locked in, and the flavours of the spices permeate the meat. In the case of meat, once the bhunna stage is complete and the masala is cooked off (with no raw notes) water can be added to create a gravy (what we call salan). A recipe in which I use this technique is my mutton curry with potatoes (aloo gosht) recipe. In recipes such as this bhuna gosht recipe, the bhunna step happens at the end after adding the yoghurt. The heat is turned to medium high, and the beef is sauteed till excess gravy is reduced and oil can be seen from the sides. For such recipes, the bhunna step results in the excess water drying up resulting in a thick masala style gravy that clings to the meat.
Tips on doing Desi bhuna:
There are a couple of things that are critical int his bhunna / bhunao process such as:
- Fat is essential: Be it ghee, oil or butter bhunna requires fat, else the onions won’t caramelise and the meat won’t brown. Take the oil off at the end, but don’t skimp in the beginning.
- The right amount of heat: Heat should be medium or medium - high. High enough to cause the ingredients to caramelise and the gravy to brown, but not so high that they start burning.
- Liquid: A little liquid can be added during the bhunna stage to prevent the ingredients (especially spices) from sticking and burning. A splash of water, tomatoes or even yoghurt can be added.
- The right pan: If you are doing bhunna, make sure it's a heavy bottomed pan, else the base and the ingredients will burn and you will spend hours scouring your pans.
Looking for more Pakistani & Indian recipes for your weekly dinner inspiration. Check out the following:
- Ginger Chicken, Pakistani style
- Murghi ka Salan (Chicken curry with Onions and Tomatoes)
- Karahi Chicken
- Chicken kofta curry (Pakistani style chicken meatball curry)
- Traditional chicken korma
Would love it if you could try out and rate the recipe, and let me know how it was in the comments below!
Bhuna Gosht | Beef Bhuna | Pakistani Beef Curry
Whole spices (Sabut garam masala)
- 8 - 10 black peppercorns
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 3 black cardamoms
- 4 cloves
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
For the meat
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 2 medium onions sliced
- 1 tomato diced
- ½ kg boneless beef see note for substitutions
- 1 cup yoghurt
- ½ tablespoon ginger paste
- ½ tablespoon garlic paste
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
For the garnish
- 2 green chilies whole
- Coriander leaves for garnish
- 1 tablespoon ginger sliced
Stove top instructions
- Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add sliced onion and fry on medium heat till light golden.
- Add the whole spices and the boneless beef and fry for a minute.
- Add the ginger garlic paste followed by the powdered spices (red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and saland tomatoes.
- Turn heat to medium and saute the meat for about 3 - 4 minutes, adding a few tablespoons of water. This step is known as bhunao, and it needs to be done till the mutton is browned, and the oil separates from the gravy.
- At this stage, add 1 cup of water and turn heat to low. Cover the pan, and cook the beef on low heat till tender. This will take around 45 minutes - 1 hour. If the meat is getting too dry, add a few splashes of water.
- Once the beef is tender, add the yoghurt and mix through.
- Once the yoghurt is cooked and mixed through, turn heat to medium again and keep sauteing / bhuno the meat till the water is evaporated. Traditionally, bhuna gosht is always on the dry side. If you do prefer gravy, then you can add a little water.
- Garnish the beef bhuna gosht with coriander leaves, green chillies and sliced ginger. Serve hot with naan or rice.
Pressure cook instructions
- Add oil in the base of the pressure cooker or Instant Pot.
- Add sliced onion, beef, whole spices, ginger garlic paste, powdered spices and tomatoes.
- Fry for 2 - 3 minutes, then add ¼ cup water.
- Close the lid and pressure cook for 25 minutes till beef is tender. Amount of time can vary depending on the model of pressure / multi cooker that you have, so make sure to consult the manual. Carefully release the pressure from the beef, and open the lid.
- If you are using an electric pressure cooker / multi cooker, turn on the saute / sear low mode and then add the whisked yoghurt. If you are using a manual pressure cooker, turn the heat to low and then add the whisked yoghurt.
- Once the yoghurt is cooked and mixed through, turn heat to medium again and keep sauteing / bhuno the meat till the water is evaporated and the oil can be seen on the sides of the gravy.
- Traditionally, bhuna gosht is always on the dry side. If you do prefer gravy, then you can add a little water. Once the beef is cooked, garnish with coriander leaves, green chillies and sliced ginger. Serve hot with naan or rice.