Traveling in India is so much fun. India is hands down the most amazing place I've traveled. The people, the sights and of course the food! Getting around the country is easy and there are so many great ways to see the sights besides getting on a plane and missing all the action. One such way is hopping on a bus and making your way (slowly) through the vast array of fascinating towns and villages sampling all that India has to offer along the way.
One such trip I took was from the wonderful town of Mysore in the Karnataka region. We were headed west to the coast and our trip involved heading into the mountains, through the tea plantations and into the National Park. It was going to be an epic journey, no matter - but the fact that our coach turned out to be more of a sewing machine with seats left me wondering what we'd let ourselves in for. The bus was cramped and HOT. Thankfully none of the windows closed - so, once up in the mountains this proved to be the most amazing way to travel - fully air-conditioned! I stood most of the way, taking in all the amazing sights.
Dhaba style Bhuna Gosht
Along the way, the bus stopped off at various local attractions - the usual stuff - gift shops, toilets and 20 metre statues of Jesus etc. You never quite know what's around the corner in India! One stop was a local Dhaba - Dhaba are roadside street vendors usually found in and around gas stations and busy public thoroughfares. Karnataka is in the South of India so predominantly vegetarian, but this particular Dhaba sold NON VEG options. We were starving so headed there. A huge pan of dark, rich curry sat on the flame as the vendor stirred. It was a type of bhuna gosht I concluded after the event. We pointed (always the way to order when traveling) at it and smiled enthusiastically. It was on a plate within seconds, which a piping hot bread, slathered in ghee. We devoured it in minutes - I knew I'd be making this, or something like it, on my return, but for now we had to return to the bus to continue our journey to the coast – destination; more amazing food!
A dry curry
Bhuna Gosht is a dry curry - with little water added, it cooks predominantly in in its own juices. This creates a thick, rich gravy that clings to the meat - in this case pork. I'm not sure what the meat was in India, most likely mutton or goat, but it was delicious. Intensely flavoured (and I mean INTENSE). It's not a spicy curry, the chilli heat is minimal, but the other spices bring out an amazing fragrance to the sauce; one of the most impressive in my curry rotation.
My bhuna gosht recipe uses pork. It has a great texture and a good amount of marbling to ensure it stays juicy and moist. I've made this recipe with beef and lamb too, which are both excellent choices. The curry needs a long time to cook, so these two meats fit the bill well.
For my bhuna paste recipe I use a heady combination of spices. Each brings something special to the party, especially the fennel. I can't get enough of that aniseed flavour. You can definitely taste this in the final sauce – It's so delicious.
A split curry
As with a lot of Indian curries, cooked over a long period of time, you'll find that some or all of the fat separates from the sauce and creates a slick of bright oil in and around the sauce. This splitting is completely normal - it's up to you if you want to try and remove it. If I'm feeling like being a little healthier I will, if not I'll stir it in and pretend I didn't see it.
A tip to remove the oil: Let the curry sit without stirring for a few minutes. The oil will rise to the top. Very gently press in a few paper towels to the surface and leave for 5-10 seconds. The oil will soak into the towel. Do this a few times and you'll actually be able to remove most of the excess.
Talking of splitting, this curry also splits my household! My other half Brendan has secretly not really enjoyed this curry for years! I only found out a few weeks ago, that he finds it too flavourful! He actually thinks it has TOO MUCH flavour. While still a complaint, it's not really much to worry about is it? "I don't like your really flavourful curry." 😢🤣
Serving suggestions and more Indian curries
I like to serve this curry with Indian breads - it's one of those sauces that clings to the meat, so you can scoop at your leisure and not get into that much of a mess. For the most part, I buy my chapati, roti, paratha and naan pre-made and I pop them in the oven or on the BBQ to heat just before serving. I also eat this curry with Basmati rice, which is no second choice by the way.
If you're in the game for a curry, but not sure where to start - take a look at my lists of current favourites. My 20 Best Curry Recipes is a great start along with my 10 Best Chicken Curry Recipes. Hope you make something from the list - let me know if you do and how you got on! Love to hear from you all!
How to make my Bhuna Gosht
For the onion paste
- 2 onions (peeled & roughly chopped)
- 6 garlic cloves (peeled)
- 3 tbsp ginger (chopped)
For the spice paste
- Sprinkle the pork with turmeric, salt and sugar and set aside.
- Add all the spice paste ingredients to a dry frying pan over a moderate heat. Stir a little until the spices begin to pop and jump around the pan. Stir for no more than 30 seconds to avoid them burning - this will make curry bitter. Remove from the heat and quickly pour the spices into a spice grinder or pestle & mortar.
- Grind the spices into a fine powder then pour in around 1 cup water. It'll be quite wet. Set aside while you complete the other steps and it'll thicken up.
- In a food processor or using a hand blender, blend the onion, garlic and ginger into a puree.
- Heat a wok or large pan with the oil over a moderate/high heat. When hot, drop in the curry leaves and let them splutter for a few seconds, before adding the onion paste. Stir fry this paste for about 5-7 minutes until browned and most of the moisture has evaporated.
- Add the tomato and again, stir for 5 minutes until it's beginning to break down. Be careful no to let the paste burn.
- Add the spice paste, and stir for about 30 seconds before adding the pork and 1 cup water. Stir well to combine everything. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Pop on a lid and cook for 1½-2 hours until the pork is tender (you may need to adjust this time if you're using a different meat as they may take longer). The curry should be very gently bubbling.Stir every 15 minutes or so to ensure things are not sticking.
- Once cooked, check for salt levels and adjust if you think it needs more. That's it!
- Serve with Indian breads or lots and lots of fluffy basmati rice.
Nutrition (per serving)
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