Dhaba Chicken Curry

Delicious spiced chicken found at the Dhaba’s (local roadside restaurants) that line the motorways in Northern India. Dhaba’s were characterized by mud structures and cots to sit upon (called ‘chaarpai’ in Hindi) while eating. A wooden plank would be placed across the width of the cot on which the dishes were placed. With time, the cots have been replaced by tables however; the food has remained true to its roots – typically inexpensive and with a ‘homemade’ feel to it.



Chicken 1 kg
Onions 2 large, finely chopped
Tomato 3 medium, pureed
Ginger-Garlic paste 2 tbsp.
Chopped coriander Handful for garnishing
Oil 4 tbsp.
Turmeric powder 1 tsp.
Kashmiri red chilli powder 1/2 tbsp.
Chicken masala powder (MDH) 1.5 tbsp
Whole black peppercorns 3 – 4
Cinnamon sticks 1 – 2
Green cardamoms 4
Cloves 2 – 3
Bay leaves 2 – 3
Salt To taste
Fresh cream (optional) 3-4 tbsp.
Water Depending on the required gravy consistency


Cooking Instructions

Heat the oil in a large bottom pan and keep on medium flame.

Add the whole spices – bay leaves, black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon sticks and green cardamoms. Fry for about 30 seconds.

Add chopped onions and fry for a few minutes or until the onions start to turn brown. Take care not to overcook the onions.

Add the ginger-garlic paste and brown for another 2-3 minutes.

Add in the chicken and sprinkle salt over it. Mix the chicken well with the onions and spices, fry for another 5 minutes and then cover and cook on a low flame for around 10 minutes. Keep stirring the chicken so its gets brown on all sides. The chicken will leave its own juices which will flavor the curry. Once the chicken is starting to brown and most of the juices have dried up, you will see oil separating from the chicken.

Now add all the dry spices i.e. turmeric powder, chicken masala powder and red chilli powder. Stir gently so the meat does not come off the bones. Now add the tomato puree. Once the tomato puree is cooked and all the powdered spices have blended in, oil will start separating again.

Now add water depending on how much gravy you want. Let the gravy come to a boil, simmer the flame and let the chicken cook on a low flame.

Once the gravy is ready to your taste (check salt), stir in the fresh cream which is optional.

Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with roti or rice.