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Dhaba style chicken curry served in the pressure cooker it was made in

Dhaba Style Chicken Curry

The best dhaba style chicken curry recipe! Spicy, hot, fragrant curry made with ground spices, onions and tomatoes, and perfect for a family lunch or dinner.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Diet Gluten Free, Halal
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 Portions
Calories 292kcal
Author Richa


  • 1 kg Chicken skinless, bone-in whole chicken cut into medium sized pieces (referred to as curry cut in India)

For the marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 1 Juice of lime
  • 1 tablespoon Salt

For the curry:

  • ¼ cup Mustard Oil see note 2
  • 4 medium Onions
  • 10 cloves Garlic
  • inches Ginger
  • 3 - 4 Green Chilies use Serrano Peppers as replacement, adjust the spice as required
  • 1 tablespoon Cumin Seeds
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • ½ Cinnamon stick Stick
  • 4 - 5 Cardamoms
  • 8 - 10 Peppercorns
  • 4 - 5 Cloves
  • 4 medium Tomatoes finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Red Chili Powder optional; adjust the spice as required
  • 2 tablespoons Coriander Powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt

For tempering:

  • 1 tablespoon Ghee or Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Butter
  • 2 Green Chilies slit lengthwise
  • ½ inch Ginger julienned
  • 2 tablespoon Coriander for garnishing


  • Marinate the chicken pieces with ginger garlic paste, lime juice and salt. Cover and set aside while you prep everything else
  • Grind onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies to a fine paste with very little water. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker or a large heavy bottom pan. Add cumin seeds. Roughly pound all the whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns and cloves) and add to the oil.
  • Once they start to splutter, add the onion paste. Cook the onion paste on a low flame, stirring occasionally, till it is reduced to a golden, brown paste and you see a thin layer of oil along the sides
  • Add tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder (if using) and coriander powder. Cook till the tomatoes start melting, and almost form a paste.
  • Add the chicken and garam masala and roast for a minute or two. Add 1 cup water.

Pressure Cooker:

  • At this stage, if you are using a pressure cooker, place the lid and pressure cook on high till the first whistle goes off. Then reduce the flame to low and pressure cook for two more whistles and turn off the flame. If using a different kind of pressure cooker (without a whistle system), pressure cook on high for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
  • Simmer for 5-10 mins on high flame, if required, to thicken the curry (chicken leaves a lot of water). I didn't need to do this.

Stovetop Method:

  • If you are using a heavy bottomed pan, bring the curry to a boil, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and let it cook on medium heat for 20-25 minutes. Uncover the pan, and cook for another 10-15 minutes till the curry starts to thicken. Once the curry is ready, switch off the flame.
  • Instant Pot Method:
  • If using an instant pot, place the lid and change the vent to sealing. Pressure cook on high for 8 minutes. Release pressure manually. Simmer the curry for a few minutes to achieve the desired thickness if there is too much water.
  • Tempering:
  • In another small pan, heat ghee and butter and add green chilies and ginger. Once they start to splutter, switch off the flame and mix the tadka (or tempering) into the curry. Top with coriander.
  • Let the curry sit for 10-15 minutes before serving. Tastes best with rotis or rice.



  1. Bone-in chicken keeps the meat tender and juicy. If you don't have access to 'curry-cut', use drumsticks and thighs
  2. Mustard Oil is my oil of choice while making this curry because it adds that distinct 'dhaba style' flavour and smokiness. In a pinch, use any neutral flavoured vegetable oil. Olive oil or coconut oil are not recommended for this recipe
  3. Marinate the chicken before you start prepping anything else. The marinade tenderizes the meat and flavours it from within
  4. Add just enough water while grinding the onion paste. Too much water will increase the time it takes to brown them. Its okay if the mixture is not very smooth.
  5. Cook the onion paste till it turns a deep golden brown in colour. Remember to stir frequently as it can easily stick to the bottom and burn. When you start seeing some oil separating from the sides, you know it's cooked
  6. Cook the tomatoes until they break down and the oil separates i.e., there is a thin layer of oil on top or the sides. The oil separating is an indicator that the spices have combined and are cooked through. It also indicated that the excess moisture has evaporated. 
  7. Do not skip on the final tempering - it really elevates the flavour of the dish!


Calories: 292kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 1400mg | Potassium: 437mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 738IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2mg