Punjabi Rajma to Masala Egg Curry: 9 Popular Dhaba-Style Dishes

Indian cuisine is renowned for its dhaba-style dishes, characterised by robust flavours and homely preparations reminiscent of roadside eateries called dhabas. These recipes often include rich gravies, aromatic spices, and slow-cooked meats or vegetables prepared in tandoors or traditional clay ovens. Dhaba-style cooking emphasises the use of flavorful spices, fresh ingredients, and straightforward cooking techniques to create tantalising dishes.

This style of cooking is significant for preserving traditional culinary methods, offering delicious and affordable food options, and providing a cultural experience that pays homage to India's diverse culinary heritage.

Here are some popular dhaba-style dishes:

1. Dhaba Chicken Curry: 

This signature curry is a staple of dhabas, featuring tender chicken pieces enveloped in a medium-spicy, flavorful gravy. A blend of common Indian spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala lends the dish its spicy and tangy taste. Slow cooking enhances the texture, resulting in a rich and velvety curry. Typically served with butter naan or steamed rice, Dhaba Chicken Curry is a satisfying and hearty dish.

Video Credit: YouTube/ Chef Ranveer Brar

2. Punjabi Rajma: 

Rajma, a spicy and aromatic dish, is a favourite among dhaba-goers. Cooked with a blend of spices, including cumin, coriander, and red chilli, the rajma features tender kidney beans in a thick and flavorful gravy. Often enjoyed with Naan or steamed rice (known as rajma chawal), this dish is a complete meal popular in Punjab.

3. Matar Paneer: 

Dhaba-style Matar Paneer is known for its creamy texture and robust flavor. Tender peas and paneer cubes simmer in a thick, spicy gravy made with onions, tomatoes, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and coriander. Slow cooking helps thicken the gravy and enhance the flavours of the ingredients. Pairing nutritious Matar Paneer with fluffy naan or roti and jeera rice creates a wholesome and delicious meal.

4. Paneer Butter Masala: 

This creamy and indulgent dish features soft paneer cubes in a buttery tomato gravy infused with aromatic spices like cumin, fenugreek, and coriander. Paneer Butter Masala, a vegetarian favorite, is often enjoyed with naan or steamed rice for a comforting meal.

5. Dal Tadka: 

Dhaba-style Dal Tadka is known for its creamy texture and comforting flavors. Yellow lentils are cooked until tender and then tempered with a mixture of cumin, mustard, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Garnished with ghee, ginger, and coriander, this dish pairs perfectly with naan, roti, or rice.

6. Paneer Tikka: 

In this dish, marinated paneer is charcoal-roasted in a clay oven, resulting in a smoky exterior and a creamy texture. The paneer absorbs the flavours of the marinade made with yoghurt, cumin, coriander, and red chilli powder, giving it a tangy and spicy taste. Paneer Tikka is often served with onion rings, lemon slices, and mint paste for a refreshing contrast.

7. Palak Paneer: 

Dhaba-style Palak Paneer features a vibrant green spinach gravy with soft paneer cubes, creating a rich and creamy texture with a subtle smokiness. Cooked with spices like cumin, coriander, and garam masala, this dish pairs perfectly with fluffy naan or steamed rice.

8. Masala Egg Curry: 

This dhaba-style curry boasts a creamy texture and a rich, spicy flavor. Simmered eggs are cooked in a fragrant onion-tomato masala with hints of coriander, cumin, turmeric, and garam masala, resulting in a hearty and filling dish. Masala Egg Curry is typically served with steamed rice, roti, or paratha and garnished with fresh coriander leaves.

9. Chole Bhature: 

A popular dhaba-style dish, Chole Bhature features spicy chickpea curry served with soft, fluffy, and slightly crispy deep-fried bread. The rich gravy coats the tender chickpeas, while the bhature provides a delicious contrast in texture. Often served with pickles, sliced onions, and fresh mint chutney, this dish is bursting with flavour and textures.