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,
½ kg chicken
2-3 tbsp mustard or refined oil (Use mustard oil for authentic flavours)
2 large onions, finely sliced
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
½ tbsp yoghurt
3 green chillies, split in two
½ tsp dry fenugreek leaves (crushed)
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 the ginger garlic paste. (I usually push aside the onion to one side and add the ginger garlic paste in the oil that drains towards the centre of the wok. Fry for a few seconds and then mix together with the onion)
Fry for a few seconds and then 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 dry ingredients – turmeric, salt, coriander powder, chilli powder, cumin powder and garam masala powder.
Stir well and then add the yoghurt, crushed dry fenugreek leaves and green chillies.
Fry further for about 5 minutes on low flame.
Add 3-4 tbsp of water and cook till chicken is done.
Remove in a serving bowl and sprinkle chopped green chillies over it.
Serve with Naan or Tandoori Roti.
Note: Adjust the amount of chillies to suit your taste.