Cashew Chicken Bhuna

Mild and yet deliciously rich, Cashew Chicken Bhuna is my take on chicken Bhuna with the added indulgence of creamy cashew nut  sauce. It pairs beautifully with rice, naan, Tandoori Rotis and chapatis and an oniony lemony fresh salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and chillis. Choose any low or no fat variety of Indian bread or rice with my Cashew Chicken Bhuna; that way you will truly experience the decadent creaminess of this dish that is very hard to beat.

Ingredients (serves 4 to 6)

  • 3 onions; 1 sliced thinly and the other 2 chopped roughly into chunks
  • 150 grams of full-fat yoghurt
  • 1/2 tsp of salt and another pinch or two
  • 3-4 pods of cardamom
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 40 grams of garlic
  • 15 grams of ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 800 grams  skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 60-75 grams of cashew nuts
  • 60 ml of milk
  • 3- 4 tbsp of oil
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • Whole spices (2-4 bay leaves, 1 stick of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds and 2-3 dried chillis)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp of chilli powder; adjust to taste

Garnish

  • Chilli flakes (optional)

Method

  • Pour the milk over the cashew nuts and soak for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the chopped onions, grind into a paste with a splash of water (about a tbsp or two) and set aside.
  • Add the yoghurt, 1/2 tsp of salt, cardamom, cloves, garlic, ginger and turmeric powder into a blender and grind into a fine marinade.
  • Add the cashew nuts and the milk into a blender and grind  into a paste and set aside.
  • Pour marinade over the chicken and mix well to combine; you can let the marinated chicken absorb the flavours in the fridge overnight but about 20-30 minutes is just fine.
  • Place a wide  and deep pan over high heat and pour in the oil.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onions, sprinkle a pinch of salt and spread it out evenly in the oil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and fry stirring every couple of minutes until the onions are crisp and brown resembling the colour of honey. It’s important to take the fried onions off the heat at this stage as they will continue to darken and brown further.
  • Add the sugar into the pan and stir until melted and caramelised.
  • Add the whole spices and sauté on medium low heat for a minute until golden.
  • Add in the onion paste and a pinch of salt and cook on medium heat until most of the moisture disappears and the oil starts to separate.
  • Add in the chicken along with the marinade and stir to combine in medium  heat.
  • Lower  heat and simmer gently with the lid on stirring occasionally.
  • You will observe that the chicken will release quite a bit of its juices; simmer gently with the lid on until juices have thickened and/ or the oil starts to separate; it should take about 35 – 45minutes depending on the size of the pieces.
  • Add in the cashew paste, chilli powder and garam masala and stir to combine.
  • Simmer gently on low heat for another about 15 minutes with the lid on stirring every 3-4 minutes gently scraping in the fond at the bottom of the pan and mixing into the sauce until the chicken is fork tender.
  • Stir in the fried onions saving a little for garnish and mix to combine.
  • Turn the heat up medium high and stir constantly until the cashew paste is cooked through.
  • When oil starts to separate and the bhuna is dry, it’s done!
  • Serve with pulao, rotis  and fresh salad for a truly satisfying meal.

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