Dhaba Style Chicken

It all started with a Punjabi friend returning from India & reminiscing about her trip to India.You know how food and music instantly connect people from different cultures , well this was one of them.Our mouth watering description of the food soon attracted strangers around who happily joined in, on the discussion of Indian food & culture & one thing led to another & the topic of “Dhaba food” made its entry. That opened the memory lane of good food , friends & laughter.

Picture Courtesy : From the net

Driving back home, in the cold winter snow I mentally pictured a Sardar dressed as a genie holding the magic lamp at the door and asking me what I needed in the menu for dinner, and me happily telling him,”Forget the three wishes, please , get me some rich buttery Dhaba chicken & Naan right now” .Winter has a way of teasing your senses with food memories that no other season can ever surpass.

When the motivation is there, cooking is a breeze! For the uninitiated Dhaba or Punjabi Dhaba’s as they are commonly called in India are inexpensive restaurants along the highways in India, mainly meant for truckers (who were mostly of Punjabi descent) but eventually these Dhaba’s have become a destination in itself for the warm hospitality and the deliciously rich food they serve in these places. Punjabi music, laughter & friendship is a given sitting on those Charpoy’s (a bed used especially in India consisting of a frame strung with tapes or light rope, with a wooden plank in-between to serve as a table! ) and eating yummy food in the most informal settings. Food always has memory attached to it, hence it brings comfort to us even during the dreariest winter season. Thus emerged the Dhaba style chicken dish in my kitchen.

Since Dhaba’s cater to a large number of people, basic ingredients are used to create delicious outcomes . I applied the same principle in my kitchen today , making do with the ingredients available in my pantry. Lo! & behold the dish was ready in a jiffy.

Dhaba Style Chicken

Dhaba Style Chicken

Recipe by Maya Shetty
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Prep time

Cooking time


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  • 1 whole chicken (Skinless , cleaned and cut into medium sized pieces)

  • For the marinade:
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste

  • 1 lemon Juice

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • For the curry:
  • 4 Onions (medium sized , chopped)

  • 10 cloves garlic

  • 1 1/2 inchs ginger julienned

  • 3 –4 green chilies

  • 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 inch cinnamon

  • 4 –5 Cardamoms

  • 8 –12 Peppercorns

  • 4 –5 Cloves

  • 4 Tomatoes (medium sized , chopped)

  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (Powder)

  • 2 tsp red chili powder

  • 2 tbsp coriander (Powder)

  • 1 tsp garam masala powder

  • Salt to taste

  • For tempering:
  • 1 tbsp ghee

  • 2 green chillies slit lengthwise

  • 1/2 inch ginger julienned

  • Cilantro/Coriander leaves for garnishing


  • Marinate the chicken pieces with ginger garlic paste, lime juice and salt. Cover and set aside for 30 mins.
  • Slice onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies . Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker or a large heavy bottomed pan. Add cumin seeds. Roughly pound all the whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns and cloves) and add to the oil. Once they start to splutter, add the onions, green chillies & ginger garlic paste. Cook them on a low flame, stirring occasionally, till it is reduced to a golden, brown paste and the oil starts to surface.
  • Add tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder and coriander powder. Cook till the tomatoes becomes soft and mushy.
  • Add the chicken, garam masala and ½ cup of water.
  • Allow 3 whistles if cooking in a pressure cooker or if it is in a pan keep stirring till the curry thickens.
  • Simmer for 5-10 mins & let the chicken cook in its own steam.
  • When the curry is cooked remove from the flame & set aside.
  • Temper with ghee , ginger and green chilies .
  • Garnish with cilantro/ coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot with naan/Indian flat bread or rice

Check a few of my Chicken recipes, published earlier in the links that follow :












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