Dhabas are eateries that usually serve local cuisine. Open 24X7, they customarily used to be stop over eateries for the truck drivers who ply from one distant destination to another and were located mainly on the highways especially next to petrol stations. Punjabi food is very popular in such joint since most truck drivers are of Punjabi descent. Hence being their major clientèle (though these days you will find people travelling/driving across cities, stopping over for a quick bite) the food is influenced by their taste. It is spicy and rich yet simple and very basic therefore easy on the pocket. They are popular in India and you will find them almost everywhere even in the smallest of the villages.
The ambience at a typical dhaba is rustic and comprises of a thatched/ mud structure from where the food is served. The patrons sit in the open on cots and the food is served on a wooden plank (now replaced by a wooden table) placed near the cot. Food is generally served in copper vessels. Hygiene is definitely not the norm is such eateries though some of the popular ones who cater to travellers and tourists have started practising it.
While driving along with my husband to my home town from Delhi, we religiously used to stop by an eatery that is known for its variety of crispy stuffed flat breads – stuffed with either potato, raddish, cottage cheese, carrot or cauliflower. Served with a dollop of butter and a bowl of yoghurt, it was the ultimate Punjabi comfort food.
The dish that I am presenting to you offers a typical flavour of a dhaba made chicken. Simple and rustic, enjoyed with a naan or tandoori roti (open oven baked flatbread). This recipe can easily be doubled.
You will need,
1 kg chicken
4 – 5 tbsp Mustard Oil or any oil that you desire (Use mustard oil for authentic flavours)
4 medium Onions, finely sliced
1 tsp Ginger paste
1 tsp Garlic paste
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
2 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder (adjust to taste), mine wasn’t too hot
1 – 1½ tsp roasted Cumin Powder
1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
1 tbsp yoghurt
3 green chillies, split in two 
1 tsp dried & crushed Fenugreek Leaves
Salt to taste
Clean, wash and drain the chicken.
Heat a heavy bottomed pan or a wok and add the oil. If using mustard oil, smoke the oil.
Add onion and fry it till it starts turning brown in colour.
Lower the flame and add a few tablespoons of water and then add the ginger garlic paste.
Fry till the water evaporates and the ginger garlic starts becoming aromatic. (ensure to constantly keep stirring) 
Add the chicken. 
Sear the chicken on a high flame for about 2-3 minutes and then reduce the flame to medium low.
Add the spices – turmeric, coriander powder, chilli powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder and salt.
Stir well and then add the yogurt, crushed dry fenugreek leaves and green chillies.
Fry further for about 5 minutes on low heat.
Add 3-4 tbsp of water and cook till chicken is done.
Replenish the chicken with water if starts to turn too dry. Adjust the consistency of the chicken according to your preference. Add more water if you prefer it with curry and add less water if you desire to have it towards thick consistency. 
Remove in a serving bowl and garnish with fresh coriander. 
Serve with Naan or Tandoori Roti.
Serves 4 – 6

46 thoughts on “DHABA CHICKEN – ढाबा चिकन (HIGHWAY CHICKEN)

  1. The richness of the sauce on these wings really does pull you in. I am so wishing I had been there to taste this-yum! After seeing this, I think a road trip in India would be a delicious adventure.

  2. The chicken looks delicious! Love the sprinkling of green chillies as well. Spicy! Btw, I was searching your recipe index for a crispy stuffed flatbread recipe and found only the chickpea flatbread one. Will you be doing any of the stuffed ones anytime soon? I’ve had that once before at a friend’s place and ever since then have been craving for them. The frozen ones from the stores are terrible!

    1. Hi Ping! Thanks dear for your thoughts. I have been thinking of posting stuffed flat bread but somehow it never happened. I will post it very soon. I wonder what stuffing you had in the flat bread at your friend’s place.

    2. Looking forward to your stuffed flatbread post.
      It was so long ago, but I think it was some potato or something. I remember the curry leaves in it. It was so fragrant and creamy inside. Or maybe it could be pumpkin? Gosh, I’ll be happy with any homemade stuff.

  3. Does this chicken ever sound delicious. All those flavors blended in together produce such a luscious sauce. I can’t wait to try this. What side dish do you like to serve with it?

    1. Hi Vicki! You really don’t need a side dish with this. Serve it with a onion, tomato and cucumber relish and bread to mop up that yummy spicy sauce.

  4. I would go crazy for this chicken… it looks so tasty and flavourful. The stuffed flatbreads you mentioned sound delicious, too – wish I could try one!

  5. This chicken dish sounds terrific. I wish we had such “fast food” eateries in Europe… All you can hope for on the road is McDonald’s or, most of the time, disgusting packed sandwiches with scary expiry date (one month or more!).
    I have all of the ingredients apart from the mustard oil and I wonder why I don’t cook Indian more often! The stuffed flatbreads sound equally flavoursome. I have already heard about them but never actually tasted them.

  6. The chicken looks absolutely mouthwatering and so tasty! I would cut back on the chilies due to sensitive stomach but otherwise this would perfectly suit my taste!

  7. This looks and sounds amazing!! India has such wonderful variety in food, but across the board it’s truly my favorite cuisine of all. SO MUCH FLAVOR!!! I love it. Thanks so much for sharing, my friend!

  8. I have to say, this dish is really new to me, as well as the concept Dhaba. The chicken looks terrific. Your chicken makes me want to go to a Dhaba right now to experience all those flavourful dishes you just described.

  9. It’s simple and looks great…
    .I am dreaming going to one of those Highway eateries with my husband….

  10. What a lovely recipe. The chicken sounds delicious. While the dish is new to me I look forward to giving it a try. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  11. HI,
    This chicken really looks masaledar. Amazing!
    Would love that with some hot parathas and green chillies on the side. Yummy!!!

Comments are closed.