My memories of dhaba-style chicken curry is that it is mostly very yellow (thanks to the heaps of turmeric powder that goes in) and that it is very tasty and spicy! Our version of this dish was also very hot, spicy and flavorful. A lot of you would agree that there is nothing like the yellow chicken curry that the dhabas in India serve! Without going into too many details, for our non-Indian friends, a “dhaba” is like a diner on a highway equivalent- just very very rustic and basic. But to have this dish you don’t necessarily need to go to one. I think I have had some great (Indian) chicken curry at some decent restaurants in Delhi & Bombay and of course at home cooked by mom. So we attempted to recreate this classic dish in our kitchen and it sure was finger-licking good!! In fact one of my favorite food is “chicken curry & rice”- yum yum yum! The best part of this is that most of the ingredients are almost always present in any (Indian) kitchen. Here is how we made it-
- 5-6 pieces of boneless chicken thighs or leg pieces (increase your cooking times by about 20 minutes if you are using chicken with bones)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola or olive oil
- 1 small dried bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4-5 cloves
- 1-2 small cinnamon sticks
- ½ a teaspoon black peppercorns, whole
- 1-2 small cardamoms
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¾ medium onion, pureed
- 2 medium tomatoes, pureed
- 1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped green chili, optional depending on your tolerance for spicy food
- 1-1 ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (I like it very yellow so usually put about 2 heaping teaspoons!)
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt, add more depending on your taste
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 3 tablespoons plain or Greek yoghurt
- 4-6 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
- Coarsely grind together the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, bay leaf, peppercorns and cumin seeds.
- In a heavy bottom pan/ base of a pressure cooker, add the oil and the coarsely ground mixture and sauté for about 2 minutes.
- Add the pureed onions and the chopped ginger. Sauté until the onions change color, for about 3-4 minutes.
- Then add the tomato puree and the chopped garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes.
- Add the chopped green chili, turmeric powder, red chili powder, ground coriander and garam masala powder.
- Mix well and then add the chicken and the salt and cook it on high flame until the chicken roasts a bit (stirring occasionally) – for about 10-12 minutes.
- Next add the yoghurt and mix well. Lower your flame and cover with a lid and cook until the chicken is cooked. This can take about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Make sure to stir at reasonable intervals to ensure that the chicken doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Usually the chicken will release its juices and there will be water from the yoghurt and tomatoes but if you think the chicken is sticking to the pan, add a few sprinkles of water to deglaze and cover again and cook on low flame. Also add half of the chopped coriander half way through cooking.
- After about 13-14 minutes (or sometimes more) and when the chicken starts to look cooked (the pieces will start falling apart), add about 4-5 cups of water and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
- Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve with basmati jeera rice!
how simply irresistible is this!