Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Recommended Posts

Hi There,

 

I came across this term, Bunooing, which I'd never heard before. I had a look around to try and understand the method behind it, but came across a number of inferences on what bhunooing is and how it works, some of which were conflicting and a little confusing. I would be very grateful if someone could clear this up for me and perhaps answer a few questions. This is my understanding of bhunooing so far:-

 

Essentially, this is a method of releasing essential oils that are cooped up in your dry spices and leaves too. The types of spices used are the hard spices such as cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon, mustard seeds etc. As I understand it powdered spice can be added, but nearer the end of the bhunooing process.

 

The thinking behind this method is that spices take on moisture over time which dilutes the essential oils in the spices. By slow frying the spices you are gently evaporating the water and releasing the concentrated essential oils from the spice which enhances the power of spice, giving it more punch.

 

The bhunooing process can be used to make a vibrant base for your gravy. To do this, heat a good amount of oil on high and then bring it down to a medium heat. Add your spices and onion and slowly fry until the onion turns a light brown. At this point add your liquid/ gravy.

Some questions that I have are:-

  • Why heat the oil to hot and bring to medium? Why not just heat to medium?
  • Does bhunooing always have to include onions?
  • The first time I tried this, the onions absorbed all of the oil after a while - is this okay? Or does it mean that I used too much oil?
  • Is this the same, or does it have any relation to the bhuna?
  • I have come across articles and recipes that refer to bhunooing and suggest that it's (perhaps) just the process of slow cooking ingredients on a flame/ hob - is this correct?
  • How long should I be frying the spices for?

I would be very grateful for any help you can provide.

 

Thank you in advance

Phill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you cdh, your response is much appreciated.

 

I had already read this post which actually made things a little more frustrating for me. BBhasin and Suvir Saran are not talking about Bhunooing, they are refering to it in a discussion about oil separation. Their references suggest that knowledge of the process is common knowledge among Indian chef's which is perhaps why it's so hard to find a succinct definition - perhaps everyone understands bhunooing apart from me!

 

A re-read of the article did, however, answer one of my points:-

 

1. The first time I tried this, the onions absorbed all of the oil.

Answer:- I didn't wait long enough for the oil separation to occur (thanks BBhasin), I will try again today with more patience  :smile:

 

I also notice that the spelling is slightly different here and that googling "the Bhunao method" brings far more results than my original spelling. I will research further and for those, like me, who are uninitiated I will share my findings.

 

Thanks again cdh :-)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the book Prashad:  Cooking with Indian Masters by J. Inder Singh Kalra. He also taps into the expertise of many of India's well known chefs.  It is a fabulous book with quite involved recipes.  There is no index just a listing of recipes in their Indian names so difficult to find stuff but I am working on indexing it for myself.  I hope I am not breaking any posting rules regarding copy right, here goes:

 

In the Preface he states:  "It is unfortunate that the excessive use of desi ghee or vegetable fat and masala by a handful of half-baked Chefs made ours an unsaleable food. It was 'rich'--read that as 'fatty- and 'spicy'- to be read 'chilli hot'.  Our food is 'rich' but not 'fatty'.  It is true that we sometimes cook in excess fat, but the amazing thing about our cuisine is that the cooking is deemed complete when the fat leaves the sides (of the utensil in which the food is being cooked) or comes to the surface.  In other words, the ingredient 'expels' all fat when fully cooked.  The excess fat merely eases the cooking process and is supposed to be drained off before service.  In fact, the drained fat or 'rogan' can be re-used and inevitably makes a better fat medium because of the flavour and aroma of spices it has acquired during the cooking of the first delicacy."

 

In the Culinary Terms section of the book he states:  "The heart and soul of India's culinary art is to be able to combine the two with the nitty-gritty of Indian cooking:  "dum, bhunao, talna, baghar, dhuanaar and bhunnana".  Each one of these 'methods' or a combination of two or three or even all may be necessary to prepare a delicacy."  He goes on to describe each one of these methods in detail. Here is what he says about "Bhunao"

 

"Bhunao is a combination of light stewing, sautéing and stir frying.  It is the process of cooking over medium to high heat, adding small quantities of liquid - water or yoghurt - to prevent the ingredients from sticking, which also makes it necessary to stir constantly.  Almost every recipe needs bhunao at some stage, very often at more than one stage. 

 

At the outset it may be the spices and/or ingredients like onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, etc., which require bhunao.  The process would not only extract the flavour of each of the spices and/or ingredients, but also ensure that they do not get burnt or remain raw.  In fact, the masala must be fully cooked.

 

Subsequently, the main ingredient may also require bhunao.  This ensures that the initial cooking is done in the ingredients' own juices.  The process is complete only when the fat leaves the masala or the sides. 

 

Bhunao is not a complete process in itself but a part of the process that helps to prepare a dish.  It usually requires the addition of substantial quantities of liquid to complete the cooking process."

 

In his recipes when he wants you to use this method he uses the term "bhunno"  for example here is an excerpt from a recipe: "Heat ghee in a handi, add whole garam masala and salute over medium heat until it begins to crackle.  Add boiled onion paste, bhunno for 2 minutes, add the ginger and garlic pastes dissolved in 1/4 cup of water then stir for a minutes......."

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

typo: "Heat ghee in a handi, add whole garam masala and salute over medium heat until it begins to crackle."  Should be ...."and saute over medium heat...."  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okananogancook - Does he specify a particular quantity/type of liquid (water or yogourt) to be added during the bhunno-ing process ... for instance in the above recipe excerpt?

Per his definition, it seems that one must add one of those while bhunno-ing and yet that 'recipe' seems not to discuss that but adds liquid seemingly after that bhunno part is done (when the garlic and ginger pastes dissolved in water are added)? (Or am I misunderstanding something?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In his definition of bhunoa he does not specify how much water or yogurt.

 

 I guess I should have included the whole method for the recipe which illustrates the liquid additions.  I was just trying to show the use of the word "bhunno".  

 

The boiled onion paste quantity is 2/3 cup which would contain some moisture which would add in the bhunoa process (the paste is made by frying onions with some water until they are cooked and most of the water is evaporated then it is blended....it would still need to be quite moist in order to blend it, I would think.).

 

The rest of the recipe states:  After the water and pastes are added then chopped ginger and green chillies are added and stirred for 30 seconds.  Then red chillies and coriander powder are added and stirred for 30 seconds.  Then 1 1/2 cups of yoghurt and salt are added along with 3/4 c water.  It is brought to a boil and simmered until the fat leaves the masala (the second bhunoa in the recipe as he described in this definition).  After that fresh coriander is added along with 1 1/3 lb of mushrooms and simmered for 2 minutes then cashew nut paste is stirred in and brought to a boil before serving.

 

Looking at a few of the other recipes they usually have you add to spices either onion paste or garlic paste and 4 to 6 tablespoons of water to bhunno or just onions with the spices which would provide the moisture to help prevent burning.

  The onion pastes are onions blended with water then reduced until most of the liquid has evaporated or onions fried then blended with some yoghurt to make a paste.  Quite often the second bhunoa involves tomatoes, nut pastes, yoghurt.

 

Hope that answers your questions, if not ask again.

 

cheers

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Phill Bernier

Is this a topic you are still interested in? Of course I am a member who is just seeing this. Forgive me if you are done with the topic. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By sartoric
      I make this a lot. Traditionally served with dosa, but great with all kinds of Indian food, even just scooped up with bread or pappads for a snack. Although it's slightly different every time, depending on the tomatoes and chillies used, plus the strength of the tamarind, it's easy, quick to make and always delicious.
       
      In a blender - half a medium red onion chopped, 7 dried red chillies broken up a bit, 2 ripe tomatoes chopped, 1 tsp of sea salt, 3 tsp tamarind paste.

       
      Whizz until purée like about 2 minutes.

       
      In a sauté pan over medium heat add 60 ml sesame oil (gingelly), when it's hot but not smoking add 1 tsp black mustard seeds.   

       
      Quickly cover the pan to prevent escape and sizzle for a minute.

       
      Add 1 tsp of urad dal (black lentils, skinned and split they are light grey).

       
      Fry until golden, another minute or so.

       
      Throw in about 20 curry leaves. These splatter so cover the pan again. 

       
      Lower the heat and add the  blender contents.

       
      Simmer, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until you get a runny jam consistency.
       
      Ta da !

    • By Luke
      Every now and again I come across a recipe that is awesome.
       
      It started with a discovery in my local South Indian take away near work. This is a true South Indian place, not your usual run of the mill Indian restaurant which we get around here.
       
      In the bain marie was a red, slightly oily, dry spiced chicken dish scattered with onions and green coriander. A dish with no name. I asked what it was, and they replied it was "spicy chicken". I bought some and I was hooked.
      It was obviously a favorite of patrons as there was never a day when this dish was not in the bain marie and it sold out quickly.
       
      Here is my take on that recipe, which I believe is called Double Chilli Chicken. 
       
      Apologies in advance, but I dont work to quantities when cooking. Hopefully you can make your own judgement but just ask if you want more clarification. 
       
      The ingredients you will need are:
      - oil or ghee (mustard oil if my wife is giving me grief over health, ghee for best flavor)
      - Chicken mini drumsticks (about 1kg) 
      - About 3 brown onions, cut in half and then sliced (red onions would be better, but I only had one for garnish)
      - Salt
      - About 20 curry leaves
      - Sliced ginger
      - Sliced garlic
      - 10 to 15 whole dried chillies (I remove most of the seeds)
      - Ground dried chilli powder (medium hot)
      - Ground coriander
      - Ground black pepper
      - Jaggery or Palm Sugar
      - Lime juice
      - Chopped fresh coriander for garnish
      - Chopped red onion for garnish
       
      I start with a heavy base fry-pan that has a fitted lid and add the ghee.
       

       
      Choose a dried whole chilli of your liking and remove most of the seeds, as they can burn and become bitter. 

       
      Saute your dried chillies in the ghee for a few minutes

       
      You will notice they start to darken quickly
       

      Don't let them burn, but take them a bit darker than shown in the photo above and then remove into a spare bowl to cool with a slotted spoon. You can leave the ghee and seeds. Quickly add the onions to stop the remaining seeds from burning. Add salt to help the onions cook.
      I should have also added the curry leaves to the oil first, but I forgot so I added them later.
       

      As the onions soften on the heat, finely julienne some fresh ginger and slice some garlic. Exact quantities dont matter so adjust to your preference. 
       

      Add the garlic, ginger and chillies to the pan once the onions soften and take on some colour
       

      After a few minutes of cooking out the garlic and ginger, add the ground coriander and chilli powder. Again, exact quantities don't really matter but I used about 1 Tablespoon of each. What matters more is the quality of the ground powders. The coriander is ground in my coffee grinder just before use, and I make my own chilli powder from dried Spanish Padron chillies I grow each summer. If you can, always make your own ground spices. For the ground chilli powder, remove the seeds before grinding as you will get a redder product.
      A quick word on chillies : There are hundreds of varieties, but I choose the Spanish Padron due to the balance between heat and flavour. I want an intense chilli flavour without searing blow your head off heat, and this chilli has that right balance. 
       

      Stir the powders into the onions and cook for a few minutes.
       

      Add the chicken and arrange such that the chicken has good contact with the bottom of the pan. We need this to get the meat to release its own moisture, which is what makes the sauce and prevent the dish from burning
       

      Cover with a lid and lower the heat. After 5 minutes you should notice some liquid from the chicken. This increases to a maximum around 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes but don't remove the lid until 15 minutes have elapsed.
       

      While the chicken is cooking, prepare some jaggery or palm sugar and squeeze the juice out of one lime.
       

      After 15 minutes of cooking with the lid on, remove the lid, add the jaggery and lime juice, and now increase the heat. What we are going to do is evaporate the remaining liquid and turn it into an awesome sauce that sticks to the chicken.
      For another 10 minutes, you will need to pay careful attention to ensure the dish does not stick and burn. You need high heat to help caramelize the sauce and constant movement. Taste for seasoning. Add extra salt, lime juice and heaps of black pepper.
       

      Prepare some slived red onions for garnish.
       
       

      And some roughly chopped green coriander. This stuff grows like a weed in my garden as I let the kids loose with the seeds and they scatter them far and wide!
       

      Serve the chicken on a bed of steamed basmati rice
       

      And garnish with onion and coriander. Serve and enjoy with a glass of cold beer. Awesome stuff!
       
      Cheers
      Luke
       
       
       
       
       
       
    • By sartoric
      We're 50 something Aussies who enjoy travelling, eating, cooking, markets, kitchen shops, cooking utensils, animals & plants (often food related), architecture & photography (both kitchens and food) and exploring different cultures (of which food is a big part). The trip was January 14 - February 6, it was just marvellous. My favourite meal is now masala dosa with sambar, I had many. Here's some highlights of the food.
       
      A late afternoon snack of Sichuan pepper squid was washed down with a beer at the Ajantha Seaview Hotel on the promenade in Pondicherry. It's a colonial building with a first floor terrace overlooking the colourful display of women in their finest, and the Bay of Bengal. We're here on a Monday public holiday for the Pongal festival, a four day celebration of the harvest, with many different ceremonies and traditions.
       
       

       
      A visual bonus, cows (and sometimes goats) get their horns painted and wear flower garlands or other decorations.

       
    • By polly
      Lately i've been wondering about the use of food colouring in Indian food.
      Is there a traditional aesthetic use of it, or is it maybe to reproduce the colour that chilli powder or saffron would have given to a dish?
    • Guest nimki
      By Guest nimki
      Hi
      I just finished reading Flavours of Delhi. It was an interesting concept, though I found the descriptions too sketchy.
      Two points of note in the book -
      1) Connaught Place persistently spelt as Connuaght Place
      2) Description of Kachri as a dried melon, being used as a souring agent.
      To the best of my knowledge, and I do know about Kachris, they are small fruits (about the size of a large ber) that grow on climbers, in Haryana and Rajasthan. Both the fresh and dried kachri are eaten in different forms. The most delicious cooked chutney is made out of dried kachris and it is very popular in Haryana, though I haven't heard of it being eaten outside of the state. (It is also a bit of an acquired taste).
      Another thing I've heard described as kachri is by Punjabis. They refer to slices of baingan, dipped in a besan paste and deep fried, as Kachri.
      My question is, has anyone heard of a wild /dried or any other kind of melon called kachri?
      Or was it a factual error?
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×