Full of warming spice and vegetable goodness, this slow cooker lamb curry or Lamb Bhuna is perfect for weekday meals and will make your house smell divine as it cooks away.
My fridge is finally free of leftovers and I have a need to make warming dishes to help ward off freezing cold, icy days. Curries are just what is needed.
Bring on my slow cooker lamb curry, which is also packed with vegetables to make it go further and add loads of goodness.
This is my Slow Cooker Lamb Bhuna recipe, with a thick sauce I reduce in a pan before adding to the slow cooker.
That initial prep goes to add loads of flavour and ensure a thick sauce, which can be difficult to achieve in the slow cooker without resorting to artificial thickeners. So do follow those steps outlined below if you have time.
What is a Bhuna
When an Indian curry is called a Bhuna this refers to the type of cooking rather than the spices used in the dish. This is different for example to a vindaloo which refers to a curry with a lot of chilli.
The word bhuna itself is an Urdu word that refers to browning or frying.
Often the sauce of a bhuna curry is fried on a high heat after cooking, the purpose of this being to thicken the sauce, reducing it down, and bring the flavour to the fore.
A Lamb Bhuna is a medium-spiced curry dish with tomatoes and onions as the base, with meat or vegetables added to the thick sauce.
My Slow Cooker Lamb Bhuna fits the bill with its thickened sauce, though of course I do not claim this to be the authentic method for making this type of curry.
What spices do I need
You don’t need a spice cupboard filled to the rafters to make this slow cooker lamb curry, just ground cumin, coriander, turmeric and garam masala.
Then you’ll also need fresh onions, garlic, ginger (can be replaced with lazy ginger in a jar or ginger puree) and a red chilli (can also be replaced with lazy red chilli in a jar if needed), which are staples I usually have on hand.
And once you have the spices in you can make lots of different curries too. It really is worth buying a few jars of spices as you can use them to make many more curries after.
Tips for a thick sauce
Slow cooker sauces can go watery if you are not careful.
I like to make my bhuna curry sauce in a pan first to ensure that it is thick and not watery, and that the spices are fried off to release their flavours.
This way I can reduce the sauce, which isn’t really possible in the slow cooker as it keeps in all the moisture.
I used the same technique for my slow cooker vegetable curry too. If you make my slow cooker chicken pasanda you can even just throw all the ingredients in if you are short on time, it still works well.
If you want to save time and not bother with making the sauce up in a pan first, you could also cook the lamb curry on high with the lid off for a couple of hours at the end of the cooking time, which should help achieve similar results.
That method will produce a more authentic bhuna curry too, with cooking on a high heat before serving!
The lamb pieces are so tender from the long slow cooking, they melt in the mouth.
The flavours of the curry spices combine and develop too during the long cooking time, making a lovely rich flavour.
Cut of lamb
I used lamb neck fillet for this recipe as it is cheap and works well with the long slow cooking. You sometimes have to dice it yourself but that doesn’t take long to do and is worth it for saving a few pence!
Other cuts of lamb you could use in this slow cooker lamb curry are lamb leg or shoulder or diced lamb from the supermarket. All would work well.
The dish is also even better reheated the next day when the flavours have mingled even more.
Slow cooker lamb curry is such a great way to cook up a curry and make sure it is full of flavour!
- 4 onions
- fresh garlic – or you can use dried garlic/garlic powder or garlic puree
- fresh ginger – or you can use to dried ginger/powdered ginger or ginger puree
- ground cumin
- ground coriander
- ground turmeric
- garam masala
- a red chilli
- a tin of tomatoes
- 550 g lamb neck fillet
- mange tout, broccoli – or use your veggies of choice, red peppers and mushrooms work well
- fresh coriander
Step by step
In this slow cooker Lamb Bhuna recipe, to ensure a thick sauce, I prepare the sauce in a pan first and reduce it. Here is the method you will need.
Refer to the recipe card below for the precise quantities you will need.
Step 1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions for a few minutes.
Step 2. Add the fresh garlic and ginger and fry for 1-2 minutes more.
Step 3. Add the spices and red chilli and fry for 1-2 minutes more.
Step 4. Add the tin of tomatoes and water and bring to the boil.
Step 5. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened and the water has evaporated. Add salt to taste.
Step 6. Place the sauce in the slow cooker.
Step 7. Brown the lamb cubes in the same pan.
Step 8. Put the lamb and vegetables into the sauce in the slow cooker.
Step 9. Cook on high f or 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.
Step 10. Serve with fresh coriander and red chilli, with rice.
Note: If you are short on time and are not worried about the sauce being thinner or having to use cornflour to thicken it, you can skip the part where you prepare the sauce in a pan and put all the ingredients straight in the slow cooker.
Do still brown off the meat if you can. Flavours will be better if you follow the instructions above.
How to thicken the sauce (alternative method)
- If you skipped the sauce preparation on the stovetop, you can either thicken your lamb curry with a cornflour paste (follow the instructions on your pack of cornflour to make a paste with a little water before adding it into your dish) or by switching to high and cooking with the lid off for the last 1-2 hours.
Serve with naan bread, basmati rice, raita (cucumber/onion/natural yoghurt), onion bhajis, pakora, poppadoms.
Adding a vegetable curry as a side dish will make it more like an Indian restaurant meal!
- Switch the vegetables to whatever you have on hand. Butternut squash, red peppers, baby sweetcorn and spinach, mushrooms all work well.
- Add more fresh chilli if you are a spice fiend!
More slow cooker curries
If you love this Lamb Bhuna curry check out the other slow cooker curries on the blog:
- slow cooker beef curry
- slow cooker chicken saag curry
- slow cooker coconut fish curry
- slow cooker chicken pasanda
- slow cooker chickpea and paneer curry
- slow cooker turkey curry
Pin this slow cooker Lamb Bhuna curry for later!
Slow Cooker Lamb Curry (Lamb Bhuna)
- 4 small onions sliced
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 cm piece fresh ginger grated
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 red chilli chopped finely, I remove the seeds
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 can cold water
- salt to taste
- 550 g lamb neck fillet diced in cubes
- 75 g mange tout
- 100 g broccoli
- fresh coriander, to serve chopped
- Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan and fry the onions for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another minute or two.
- Add the spices and red chilli and fry for another minute or two, then add the tin of chopped tomatoes and water and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened, and most of the water has evaporated. Add salt to taste.
- Once the sauce has thickened, transfer it to your slow cooker pot.
- In the same wok or pan, fry the lamb cubes for 4-5 minutes (no need to add any more oil) until brown all over.
- Add the lamb and vegetables to the slow cooker pot, stir to combine, and cook for 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.
- Garnish with fresh coriander and extra red chilli, if you like, and serve with basmati rice.