How to make Chicken Bharta?
It was a very good year for friendships, both old and new. Friends at grad school, friends at dance rehearsals, blogger friends, neighbor friends; it was an exuberant year of friendship. Between my frequent trips to India and travels all over the US, I made friends, good friends, in the most unusual places/situations—on a shuttle bus to the airport, on a 12 hours long flight with a dysfunctional in-flight entertainment system, at an airport cafe as I sat alone staring at my empty beer glass while waiting for the connecting flight, and at the George Bush International Airport as I was being momentarily held due to bureaucratic inefficiencies. Friends from Dubai, Barcelona, Berlin, and Lahore. And it appears that thanks to Viber, Whatsapp, and Facebook, our friendships will withstand the threats of time and distance till we meet again. I also managed to stop over at Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Vishakhapatnam, and Hyderabad (in addition to Kolkata) to meet up with several of my old friends.
Yesterday, as I sat at my desk looking through the pictures of the times spent with my friends, outlining a chocolate cake recipe in my head, and devising a blog post to dedicate to them, I realized that, during my recent visits to India, most of the time with my friends was spent in the dhabas around the airports in all these cities eating chicken bharta and tea. Dhabas are these bucolic roadside (highway truck stop) restaurants in India that are always open. They mostly serve (dhabas in certain regions of the country also serve more simplistic eggs and lentil-based dishes) heavily spiced northwest frontier cuisine cooked in tandoor ovens, and are popular for their vibrant and musical atmospheres and economical rates.
I love dhabas because of their awesome food, because of their charcoal-burning-clay-ovens with their incessant orange blobs of fire that glow like the sun in the dark, because of their charpoys, because of their lassis, because of their indiscriminate use of butter, and because of the endless whistling of their aluminum kettles overflowing with masala chai. Because when I meet a friend after ages, brimming with excitement and long-kept secrets and gossips, all I need is a 24 hours open restaurant and a frequently replenished cup of tea. Furthermore, all airports have a nearby dhaba making them easily accessible places for the always-on-a-time-crunch kind of traveler like me. Although, the quick service time at these dhabas, the ceaseless commotion, and the continuous noise of the aircraft engines flying over our heads are a continuous reminder of the transient nature of these meetings.
Dhabas are fundamental to friendships in India. We all have memories of that one day/night when we bunked school/college and went to the local dhaba, because that’s the only place we could afford then, and chicken bharta was the only thing we (only me?) liked to eat then. Therefore, on friendship day there is nothing I want to eat more than chicken bharta. This recipe comes directly from the Azad Hind Dhaba kitchen. Do try it. And if you have stories about dhabas that you would like to share with us, then leave a comment. 🙂
Best Indian chicken bharta recipe
- 4 tbsp oil
- 6 cardamoms
- 6 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large onion very finely chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 2 green chilies chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 250 grams boneless chicken approximately 8 oz, cut into bite size pieces
- salt to taste
- 4 tbsp cashew paste
- 1/4 cup fresh cream
- 1/4 cup yogurt beaten with a little water
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp kasoori methi dried fenugreek
- cilantro for garnish
- 2 tbsp fresh cream for garnish
- 1 boiled egg halved
- Heat oil in a pan and add bay leaf, cloves and cardamoms. Give it a stir and after about thirty seconds add chopped onions and sauté over medium heat until it turns golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.
- Add ginger and garlic paste and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- In a small bowl mix the powdered spices with 3 tbsp of water and add to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, or until oil separates.
- Next add tomatoes and green chilies and cook, turning the heat up, till the tomatoes turn soft and oil starts to separate again, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add chicken and cook covered over medium heat until done. Should take about 5-6 minutes.
- Add cashew paste and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
- Now turn the heat down again, and slowly add whisked yogurt while stirring continuously. Cook for another 10-15 minutes over low heat.
- Add salt before turning off heat.
- Finish with cream, butter and kasoori methi.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro, boiled eggs and fresh cream.
- Serve with rice or roti and pickled onions and green chutney.
If you like this recipe, please leave a comment and don’t forget to connect with me on Instagram and Facebook to never miss a recipe update or chitchat.
The preparation looks yummy… ur brilliant presentation and writing style prove you are a star of literature (y) last but not the least I love dhabas.. and ur writing brings back so many old gold memories! 😀
I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up!
I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the future.
Absolutely delicious! I did increase the chili pepper content a bit, but the other spice notes were right on. It is a very rich dish though (cashew, butter, etc)…
Yes, it sure is. Whenever I make this dish or other such rich dishes, I make it a point to serve sweet raitas alongside. That balances a lot of the richness and spiciness. Thank you for leaving a comment. Keep coming back. 🙂
Onek din dhore ekta bhalo bharta recipe khujchhilam. Thanks for coming to the rescue! 🙂
So I am food-rookie and I am going out on a limb to try this today. I am so steeped in my commitment that I actually made the trip to whole foods to get cashew paste…Lol! thats saying a lot about my commitment. Will let you know how it sat with the man…
So excited for you! 🙂
Wish I could give it 10 stars!! It was FABULOUS!! My very picky DH LOVED it, and my 15 year old son, a connoisseur of all things food, LOVED it as well and wants me to make it EVERY WEEK!! I doubled the sauce, but only added 1/4 tsp of red pepper as we don’t like things too spicy. It was PERFECTLY seasoned, with plenty of sauce to spread over the rice. Will most definitely make this regularly. Have already shared it with many friends! Thanks for sharing it!
Thanks, Andrev! I am glad your family enjoyed it. 🙂
Great! Definate kick from the red pepper! I thickened the sauce with some cornstarch. And added some chopped green onion and cilantro the last minute! YUM! I’ll make this one again for sure.
Eating at dhabas were always special. Have fond memories of eating at local dhabas on our way to Darjeeling. The smell of fresh cooked food with its rustic feel makes it more special ! And undoubtedly chicken bharta is one Dhaba special that I always order along with Tadka dal, dal makhani. Sadly, one of my favorite dhabas closed down recently..Our very own The Dhaba @Ballygunje. But to compensate for that, I made it today. And am proud of myself ! Tastes absolutely Dhaba style ! Lip smacking. !
dhruba di, this is so well written. Recipe’s are very nice on their own, but your story telling verse with regard to each dish, is more nice, if thats even an expression
Haha! Thank you, Prajokta! <3
We tried this delicious recipe and loved it! I foresee it becoming a regular dish at our place. Thank you for this and for your gorgeous blog!
This is such an excellent recipe and so easy to prepare. I have made it multiple times now and it is always a sure shot hit whether it is with the kids and partner or served to guests. Thank you so much. I wish I could give it an even higher rating😊
That makes me so happy! <3