Bunjal Chicken (sometimes spelled Bhunjal) refers to a type of curry we make in Guyana. When making bunjal curry, we cook the curry until there isn't any sauce left, just a thick masala clinging to the protein. In a conversation with my cousin in law (who is from India) I discovered that Bhuna is the Indian term for this type of curry. It made me wonder if bunjal is Bhuna but it became distorted through years of oral dissemination. If anyone has any insight on this, I would love to know more.
In Guyana when we make curry, we typically make a form of madras curry—rich with turmeric, coriander, cumin and garam masala. In fact, I didn't know there were other types of curries—red curry, green curry, massaman, etc—until I immigrated to the United States. This bunjal curry recipe is straight forward, uses pantry ingredients and comes together quickly. It was taught to me by my mother and taught to her by her mother, so it's a part of our family traditions. One day, I will teach it to my daughter, as I am teaching it to you.
Prepping the chicken
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs work best for this recipe, but you may also use chicken breasts. In my original post, I shared some steps for making your own boneless chicken thighs. I've replaced those photos with a link to this really great video that explains the deboning process in a few simple steps. Click here for the video.
Making the Curry Paste
I love using pantry ingredients for this simple curry. Yellow or madras curry powder, roasted cumin (geera), garam masala and paprika gives this dish a rich and warm curry flavor. Turn up the heat by adding some chili powder or cayenne pepper.
Bunjaling the chicken
The best part about cooking this dish, is when the curry paste hit the hot oil and all of the aroma explodes in your kitchen. It's such a rich and familiar smell to me. It takes me right back to my childhood and memories of my mother making curry in our tiny kitchen in Guyana. When the curry paste cooks down to a rich sauce, add your chicken and sauté or bunjal, as we say in Guyana until the chicken in completely cooked. This is the secret to great bunjal chicken. Just letting the chicken sauté in the curry until cooked and adding a small amount of water at the end, if necessary
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The Printable Bunjal Chicken Recipe
- 1.5 lb boneless chicken thighs (diced into 1 inch pieces)
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 3 tablespoon oil
- Curry Paste:
- 1 tablespoon Madras/yellow curry powder
- 1 teaspoon crushed dried thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon [url href="https://amzn.to/2Wvk3cN"]garam masala[/url]
- 1 tablespoon[url href="https://amzn.to/2WsXkye"]roasted ground cumin[/url]or ½ teaspoon of [url href="https://amzn.to/3fn3MPX"]geera[/url]
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves of garlic, grated (may substitute with 1 tablespoon of granulated garlic)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste (use compliant tomato paste if on Whole30)
- Pinch of Cayenne or chili pepper (optional for additional heat)
- 1 cup water
- Add salt to diced chicken thighs and set aside
- Add oil to a large skillet or sauté pan on medium heat
- When the oil comes up to temperature add the diced onions and cook until onions are soft and slightly brown
- While onions are browning, add curry powder, thyme, garam masala, cumin or geera and paprika to a small bowl and mix together
- Then add water and stir in the tomato paste to form a curry paste (it will be watery)
- When onions are soft and slightly brown, add the garlic, followed by the curry paste and cook until all the water cooks down and curry paste becomes thick and slightly brown. This should take about 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the curry paste
- Next, add the chicken thighs and mix together with the curry paste to ensure that the chicken is completely coated
- Increase the heat to high heat and sauté for about 10 minutes (stirring often) or until chicken becomes a little brown
- Then reduce the heat to medium cover and continue to cook for another 10 minutes turning the chicken often to avoid burning
- After 10 minutes of covered cooking the juices of the chicken should cook all the way down, add 1 cup of water and increase the heat to high, bringing the curry sauce to a quick boil
- Cook for about 2 minutes or until the water cooks down from the sauce and a very thick curry sauce is left
- Remove from the heat and serve with your favorite side dish
Vitri Ann says
bunjal style eh, lol. Gyal you is a real real Guyanese coolie 🙂
Yes Gyal. 🙂
hi dear. Thank you for your recipes. I love reading them. Reminds me so much of home. Mek meh Chowmein recipe last night. lol. Was wondering if you could add an email icon to your blogs. Sometimes I like to share recipes with my friends who are learning to make Guyanese foods and many of them are not on facebook or twitter. But your recipes are just as good and since you've taken your time to write, I would just like to point them in the direction of your recipes. Thanks!
Great idea. I'll look into it. In the mean time if you click on the recipe title it will take you directly to that recipe page and you can copy and paste that link in your email to your friends. Will let you know as soon as I figure out how to add the email this recipe link. Thanks for the love and that's for sharing. How yah chowmein taste sweet. 🙂
gyal meh chowmein was good. I was even surprised. lol. I didn't see your recipe until after. But where I live I don't have guyanese kind chow mein noodles... so i improvise a lot. And i use a kind of marinade blend that I store in the fridge. It has casareep, soya sauce, hoisin sauce, five spice and some other 'chowmein-friedrice' ingredients. But it was great. Will try your Bunjal this weekend!!!
Yum, yum. Sounds good. And you know Guyanese ppl like their mix up fridge stored seasoning. If you have an Asian Type store where you live, they usually have chowmein in the fridge somewhere in the store. 🙂
So I added the email tab, as well as print if you need to print anything. Thanks again for the suggestion. And as always, happy cooking.
its always good
Thank for sharing these classic guyanese cuisine now I master the art of making roti!! you rock keep them coming.
Made this with your grain free roti. Hubby, who doesn’t even like curries generally, loved it a d even asked for seconds! Will definitely be making again, thanks!!
Althea Brown says
So glad he loved it. Thank you for trying and sharing
Priya D Singh says
Do you ever cheat and use Lalah's curry powder? Asking for a friend.
Althea Brown says
Use Lalah's and not the other spices? You can use Lalah's that used to be my favorite curry powder but recently every time I cook with it it comes out grainy. Not sure if they changed the formula.