I’ve been using Beef cheeks in a variety of dishes ever since I was introduced to them many many years ago when I was a spotty faced “no all no nothing” young commis chef by an old boss of mine who’d made a beef chilli using cheeks, I tasted it and thought it was absolutely fantastic, so beef cheeks make frequent appearances in one form or other on my menu, they’re reasonably inexpensive, have a wonderful beefy flavour, and, can be used for a multitude of dishes

This recipe does require you to marinade the cheeks over night, not essential, but definitely benefits from doing so,

“Bhuna is a term you commonly find on restaurant menus. It refers to cooking meat with spices with little or no water added. This requires constant stirring to prevent the spices sticking to the bottom of the pan but the resulting dish is rich and intense in flavour from the caramelisation of the onions and the frying of the spices.”

Serves 4-6 people


1kg of beef cheeks cut into 4cm cubes

A good splash of rapeseed oil

½ tsp cloves

4 cardamom pods

½ tsp black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

3 green chillies, slit lengthwise in half

250ml water

2 tomatoes, finely chopped

A piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped

3 tbsp tamarind paste

Juice of ½ lemon

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

A pinch of sugar


2 onions, finely chopped

3 tbsp ginger garlic paste

2 tsp salt

2 tsp chilli powder

2 tsp cumin seeds roasted in a dry frying pan and then ground

2 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground turmeric


1. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the beef cheeks pieces and coat it well, and set aside, overnight if possible but at least an hour

2. Heat the rapeseed oil in a large heavy based pan, add the whole spices and bay leaves and let them splutter, but don’t allow to burn.

3. Add the marinated meat and stir well over a high heat, until the juices are absorbed and the meat begins to brown and caramelise.

4. Now Add the green chillies and water, reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for 2 hours, until the beef is about two-thirds done.

5. You can now Add the tomatoes and ginger and cook for 10 minutes over a high heat, stirring all the time to mash up the tomatoes. You may need to add a couple of splashes of water to prevent the sauce sticking to the bottom of the pan.

6. Now stir in the tamarind paste and lemon juice, followed by the chopped coriander. Finally add the pinch of sugar.

You’re Bhuna should by now be absolutely unctuous, serve with some basmati rice and naans

Written by Jon Fell

Head Chef Rosehill Theatre, Chef on the Simply Good Food TV app, run a Seafood Cookery Class at Peter Sidwell Cookery School, Newspaper food columnist

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