Dhaba Style Chicken Recipe

Dhaba Style Chicken

Dhaba Style Chicken

Dhaba Style Chicken is a simple chicken recipe. Juicy succulent marinated chicken pieces are cooked in an onion tomato gravy which is flavoured with simple spices. This recipe is inspired from the Indian ‘Dhabas’ (roadside eateries).

Road trips in India hold a special meaning for me. The joy of relishing delicious ‘dhaba food’ on a road trip is unparalleled. Small shacks or nowadays full-fledged restaurants with basic amenities on the roadside is where the best food can be eaten. Simple, rustic food prepared with only the freshest of local ingredients with simple spices. Originally, dhabas were meant to be frequented by truck drivers and budget travellers who were looking for quick bite enroute to their destination. Nowadays, dhaba food is so popular in India that people plan special road trips just to enjoy the delectable dhaba food. While growing up, the highlight of any road trip was a stopover at a dhaba for steaming hot, simple food of dal tadka, aloo paratha, kulchas, crispy tandoori roti and salad. These soul satisfying meals will always be etched on to my heart!

This recipe of Dhaba Chicken is delicious, and super simple. It might seem like a lot of steps and processes, but it is ready under an hour. The recipe calls for very basic spices and hence no ‘special ingredient’ shopping for this recipe. Simple flavours using basic ingredients!

If you love dhaba style food, check out my other favourite like Dhaba Methi Paneer, Dhaba Dal Tadka, Matar Paneer, Dal Makhani and Paneer Hara Pyaaz.


To Marinate
500 gm Chicken (with bones)
2 teaspoons lime juice
2-3 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon mustard oil
1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder

For The Gravy
2-3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3-4 bay leaves
½ inch cinnamon stick
5-6 cloves
1-2 black cardamom
2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
1 cup onion paste
1½ tomato puree
2-3 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri red Chilli
1 teaspoon kasuri methi
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala

For the Tempering
1 tablespoon ghee
½ julienned ginger
3-4 green chillies slit lengthwise



Marinate the chicken pieces with lime juice, ginger garlic paste, salt, mustard oil and Kashmiri red chilli powder. Mix everything together. Cover and keep aside to marinate for 20-30 minutes.


Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon stick and black cardamom. Once the cumin seeds begin to splutter add the onion paste.

Cover partially and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes on low heat. Remember to keep stirring it occasionally. The onion paste needs to be cooked until it is golden brown and there is a thin layer of oil along the sides.


Next add the coriander powder, turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt and kasuri methi and cook the spices for 1-2 minutes. Then add the marinated chicken and sear the chicken on high heat for 1-2 minutes.


Add the tomato puree and ½ cup water and mix. Cover and cook on medium heat for 20-25 minutes. Remember to keep stirring in between. Once the chicken has cooked uncover the pan and add the garam masala.  Cook for another 5-10 minutes on medium heat or until the gravy has thickened to your desired taste.


For the tempering heat the ghee in a small pan and add the ginger and green chillies. Let the green chillies begin to splutter then turn the heat off and keep it aside for couple of minutes. Add the tempering to the ready Dhaba chicken and mix.

Serve hot with roti or rice!

Tips & Variations

  1. I prefer Bone-in chicken for this recipe as it keeps the chicken tender and juicy. If you prefer you can use boneless too, just adjust the timing of the cooking.
  2. I would highly recommend not to skip on the marinating step of the chicken as it really helps in tenderizing of the chicken and flavouring.
  3. The only difference between my dhaba chicken and roadside dhaba chicken is the amount of oil/ghee used. I prefer not to use too much oil in my cooking. If you are preparing this recipe for a special occasion and do not mind some extra oil then double the oil quantity while frying the onions.
  4. Do not rush on the ‘browning’ onion part as really makes a huge difference to the flavour of the gravy. Onion needs to be cooked until it turns deep golden brown, and the oil begins to separate. Just remember to keep stirring it so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
  5. Do not skip on the final tempering as not only elevates the flavour of the dish but gives an added richness from ghee.
  6. Use the best ripe tomatoes for this recipe. I prefer to use fresh tomatoes as they are sweeter compared to the canned tomatoes.
  7. Dhaba Chicken cannot be made without kasuri methi. I would highly recommend using it.
  8. If you want to infuse extra flavour, then you can smoke the Dhaba Chicken. To smoke the chicken, place a small steel bowl or foil in the middle of the dhaba chicken while it is still in the pan. Heat a piece of charcoal on an open flame till it is hot and then place it in the bowl. Pour a teaspoon of oil or ghee over it, and as soon as it starts smoking, cover the pan with a lid. Smoke for 3-4 minutes.