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Wingin’ It: Shortcut Kala Bhuna Beef for Bills at Bengals

A dive into Bengali cuisine to bring out our best, most charismatic megafauna selves

Buffalo Rumblings regulars know the drill. But for the new Buffalo Bills fans circling the wagons with us, we’re about more than just football here. Need something exciting for this week’s game day chow line? Wingin’ It brings you a themed recipe for every regular-season and postseason Bills game. Like this one...

2023 wingin it Bills at Bengals Kala bhuna

I’m not sure how I’ve never thought of this, but credit to Editor in Chief Matt Byham who recommended I look into Bengali cuisine for this week. I decided to run with a Wingin’ It take on Kala Bhuna. Purists beware; this is a shortcut version, which should give most of the flavor, but in a way that encourages more people to give it a try.

Usually I’d leave tips to the bottom, but for this week I don’t expect many of the spices used to be in everyone’s kitchen:

You can use curry powder to replace pretty much all of the spices in one fell swoop, but then you’re getting a generic curry flavor. I made mine more cumin-forward, and highlight the cinnamon and mace/nutmeg a bit as well. More on the rationale for that below.

Shortcut Kala Bhuna

Serves: About 4
Active Time: 20 min
Total Time: Up to 2 hrs with optional steps


2 tsp cardamom
2 Tbsp cumin
12 tsp mace (nutmeg is fine too, and you’ll need that for pies soon anyway)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp minced onion (can replace with 1 Tbsp onion powder)
1 tsp ground cloves (you should also have this for pies if you’re doing it right)
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp paprika
12 tsp ground black pepper
1 lb beef, cut into half-inch cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
24 oz. ginger beer (that’s two bottles and DO NOT substitute ginger ale)
8 oz. hot sauce
Salt to taste
OPTIONAL: 1 Tbsp ground red pepper

You’ll need: A large sauté pan, two small bowls, one large mixing bowl

  1. Mix all spices together in a small bowl and divide in half.
  2. Add cubed beef and half of the spice mixture to mixing bowl, tossing to thoroughly coat.
  3. OPTIONAL: Cover and refrigerate spicy beef for an hour or so.
  4. Preheat sauté pan on HIGH; add olive oil.
  5. Quickly add beef, stirring to distribute oil as evenly as possible. Continue stirring occasionally until beef searing is visible on all sides, about 10 min total (see gallery below).
  6. Stir in ginger beer and hot sauce, reduce heat to MED/HIGH.
  7. Add in remainder of spice mixture a little at a time (you may not want it all, though I did). Continue stirring frequently until liquid has thickened to a gravy-like consistency.
  8. Serve over rice, potatoes, or with naan. See through time.

Wingin’ It Tips and Prep Gallery

There’s only two pictures this week as I tried to keep this simple for tailgating or party-style cooking, which is the focus this year. Feel free to look up authentic recipes and go that direction, you won’t regret it. As for the tips...

For the record, I LOVE curry powder. Feel free to use it instead. This will be delicious. If you do, consider swapping out the ginger beer for ginger ale even though I asked you not too. Otherwise, you will be in for a ginger-heavy affair. I would personally still use ginger beer, for the record.

Doing it as I listed above will definitely remind you of curry powder but will be unique. Curry powder is to this cuisine as taco seasoning is to Mexican. It’s a good baseline, and a lot of dishes will have the same list of seasoning. That said, it can be truly magical to see how different things can be with just a quick quantity tweak.

I used that comparison specifically because I went cumin forward. I’m betting if you try my mix you’ll recognize that flavor even if you’ve never used cumin before. Did I use so much it became a fusion dish? I’ll let you judge but it worked very well with the sweetness of the soda. With half the spices reserved to mix into the sauce/gravy, you’re also free to adjust as desired.

For the gallery, not much to see here. The first pic shows the amount of sear I would aim for. Specifically, the middle-two pieces. We’re not charring the whole dish, but all or most sides of the beef should have some sear marks before adding liquid.

On the second pic, the slightly different angle from the picture above of the final dish shows the fact that I have dried cranberries to the opposite side of the carrots. I’m a big fan of raisins or cranberries in this type of dish and recommend giving one of them a go.