Dhaba Chicken Curry


"You will find this curry at practically all of the dhabas [roadside restaurants] that line the highways in northern India," says Sanjeev Kapoor. "Economical and tasty, it gives you a taste of simple Punjabi cooking." Video: Sanjeev Kapoor demonstrates how to toast spices More Indian Recipes

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
40 mins


  • 3 onions, coarsely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Pinch of ground cloves

  • Pinch of ground cardamom

  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 cup tomato sauce

  • Four 6-ounce chicken breast halves on the bone, skinned

  • Salt

  • 1 cup water

  • Garam masala, for sprinkling

  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro


  1. In a food processor, chop the onions. Add the garlic and ginger and process until they are finely chopped.

  2. In a medium, enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the vegetable oil. Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and cook over low heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion mixture and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the turmeric and tomato sauce and simmer over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

  3. Season the chicken breasts with salt and add them to the casserole. Coat the chicken with the sauce. Add the water, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, turning a few times, until the chicken is white throughout, about 10 minutes. Season the chicken curry with salt.

  4. Transfer the chicken and sauce to a serving bowl. Sprinkle garam masala on top, garnish with the cilantro and serve.

    Dhaba Chicken Curry
    © Abby Hocking

Serve With

Basmati rice or naan.

Suggested Pairing

Baking spice–scented Beaujolais.

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