Dhaba-style chicken curry

The Dhaba-style chicken curry stands for every road trip we have had with our families. Same bold flavors, ready in under 45 minutes – It is hot and fragrant and is made with ground spices, onions, and tomatoes. Please find the recipe below to make it in a traditional pressure cooker, instant pot, and on the stovetop.


Chicken: Bone-in chicken cut into pieces: Thighs, breast, drumsticks

Lime Juice: Acid helps tenderize the meat.

Mustard oil: The key to getting that unique Dhaba flavor. More pungent and adds smokiness.

Whole spices: Cumin, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaf.

Ginger and Garlic paste: Ground with onions. Can be substituted with 1.5 tablespoon store-bought or homemade ginger garlic paste. Fresh ginger and garlic in equal parts ground paste with a little water. The homemade paste adds more flavor than store-bought paste.

Onions: Form the main base of the gravy and add flavor, density, and thickness.

Green chillies: Add heat and flavor. Use Serrano peppers if you don’t have Indian green chillies available.

Ground spices: Red chilly powder, Turmeric Powder, coriander powder, and garam masala.


  1. Marinate the chicken in ginger garlic paste, lemon juice, and salt.
  2. Grind ginger, garlic, green chillies, and onions to a paste with a little water. This becomes the base of the curry.
  3. Pound spices roughly with a mortar pestle to break them down and release their flavor.
  4. Sauté them in hot oil to temper and add the whole spices.
  5. Add the onion paste and brown it in oil. This is a slow cooking process where the onion paste is sauteed on a low flame till it changes color and becomes a deep golden brown. You’ll see a thin layer of oil floating on the top and the sides- That’s when you know it’s cooked through and isn’t raw anymore.
  6. Add and cook tomatoes and spices for a few minutes till the tomatoes become pulpy soft.
  7. Roast the chicken along with garam masala in the onion-tomato mixture, tossing it for a minute or two till the gravy coats all the pieces.
  8. Pressure cook for 15 minutes. If using a traditional pressure cooker, start on high heat, and after the first whistle, reduce the heat on low. Wait till you hear two more whistles and turn off the flame. Let the pressure release naturally. To make instant pot chicken curry, pressure cook on high for 8 minutes.
  9. Temper Julienned ginger and slit green chillies in butter and ghee. This adds an extra layer of flavor and gives it a nice hint of ginger.
  10. Tasty chicken curry ready to serve. Serve chicken curry with tempering poured on top. Sprinkle some chopped coriander for freshness and flavor.