The Must Have from a North Indian Dhaba Menu

North Indian cuisine

If you get a chance to dine at atypical Dhaba (road side restaurant), following are the dishes which are on the must have on the menu. Dhaba is a word famous in North India. Most of the North Indian Highways have lota and lota of dhabas serving the best cuisines. There delicacies can be compared to those of a 5 star hotels. In a typical Dhaba food is served on Charpoys (day-bed type seating) in the open air. The ambiance is not that lavish rather it comprises of a shed where all cooking is done and all dining tables or charpoys are set outside the sheds.

Butter Chicken

Ingredients:
* 1 kg boneless chicken skin removed
* Juice of 1 lime
* Salt to taste
* 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to suit your taste)
* 1 cup fresh yoghurt (must not be sour)
* 2 tsps garam masala
* 2 tsps coriander powder
* 1 tsp cumin powder
* 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
* 8-10 peppercorns
* 6 cloves
* 1″ stick of cinnamon
* Seeds from 3-4 pods of cardamom
* 2 bay leaves
* 8-10 almonds
* 2 onions chopped
* 2 tsps garlic paste
* 1 tsp ginger paste
* 1/2 litre chicken stock
* 3 tbsps vegetable/canola/snflower cooking oil
* 3 tbsps butter
* Salt to taste
* Coriander leaves to garnish

Preparation:
* Mix the chicken, lime juice, salt and red chilli powder in a bowl and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
* Roast the cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves and almonds till they darken slightly and then grind into a coarse powder.
* Mix the yoghurt, whole spice powder and all the other spices together and add them to the chicken. Allow to marinate for another hour.
* Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions. Fry till golden brown and then add the ginger and garlic pastes. Fry for a minute.
* Add only the chicken from the chicken-spice mix and fry till sealed (chicken will turn opaque).
* Now add the chicken stock and remaining part of the mix to the chicken.
* Cook till the chicken is done and the gravy is reduced to half its original volume.
* Melt the butter and pour it over the chicken.
* Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with naans and Kaali Daal.
* For an authentic and traditional cooked-over-the-coals flavour: Heat a briquette of coal till red hot and when the dish is done, put the coal in the pan and cover immediately. Remove just before serving.

Tandoori Chicken

Ingredients:
* 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces, skinned and trimmed of all visible fat
* 1/2 cup plain yogurt
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or malt vinegar
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 1 tablespoon peeled and grated or crushed ginger root
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
* 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
* Vegetable oil, for brushing
* Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish
* Slices of cucumber, red (Spanish) onion, tomato and lemon, for garnish

Preparation:
* Prick the flesh of the chicken all over with a fork. Then, using a sharp knife, cut slashes in the flesh to allow the marinade to penetrate. Place the chicken in a nonreactive large, shallow dish.
* In a nonreactive bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice or vinegar, garlic, ginger, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cloves, black pepper and salt.
* Stir until well-mixed, then pour the mixture over the chicken and rub it into the flesh, turning the chicken several times. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. (Do not marinate for longer than 2 days.) Remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.
* The chicken may be grilled or roasted. If using a charcoal grill, prepare a fire for direct-heat cooking. Position the grill rack 5 inches from the fire. Allow the coals to burn until white ash covers them and the heat is moderate.
* Remove the chicken from the marinade, pressing lightly to extract excess marinade, and brush with oil. Place the chicken pieces on a well-oiled grill rack and; grill, covered, with the vents open, turning 3 or 4 times, 45 minutes or until the juices run clear when a piece is pierced near the bone with a knife.
* If roasting, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, brush with oil, and cook, turning once, 25 to 30 minutes until the juices run clear when a piece is pierced near the bone with a knife.
* Serve with sprigs of cilantro and slices of cucumber, red onion, tomato, and lemon.

Chhole Bhature

Ingredients:
* 2 cans of chickpeas (400 gm each)
* 2 tbsps vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil
* 2 bay leaves
* 5-6 cloves
* 3-4 green cardamoms
* 5-6 peppercorns
* 3 large onions sliced
* 2 large tomatoes chopped
* 2 tbsps garlic paste
* 1 tbsps ginger paste
* 2 tsps coriander powder
* 1 tsp cumin powder
* 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
* 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
* 2 tsps garam masala
* 1″piece of ginger julliened
* 2 tbsps fresh coriander leaves chopped fine

Preparation:
* Grind 2 onions, the tomatoes, ginger, garlic together into a smooth paste.
* Heat the oil in a deep, thick-bottomed pan on a medium flame.
* Add the bay leaves, cloves, cardamom and peppercorns and fry for 1/2 a minute.
* Add the remaining sliced onion and fry till light golden. Add the onion-tomato paste and fry till the oil begins to separate from the paste.
* Add the dry spices – cumin, coriander, red chilli, tumeric and garam masala powders. Fry for 5 minutes.
* Drain the water in the can from the chickpeas and rinse them well under running water. Add the chickpeas to the masala. Mix well.
* Add salt to taste and water to make gravy (about 1 1/2 cups).
* Simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes.
* Use a flat spoon to mash some of the chickpeas coarsely. Mix well.
* Garnish with juliennes of ginger and finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.
* Serve piping hot with pooris/bhatooras.

Palak Paneer

Ingredients:
* 500 gms Paneer
* 2 medium-sized bunches of fresh spinach
* 1/2 bunch fresh fenugreek leaves
* 4 tbsps vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil
* 1 large onion chopped fine
* 1 large tomato diced
* 2 tsps garlic paste
* 1 tsp ginger paste
* 2 tsps coriander powder
* 1 tsp cumin powder
* 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
* 1 tsp garam masala powder
* Salt to taste
* 1 tbsp of butter to garnish

Preparation:
* Cut the paneer into 1″ cubes. Heat 2 tbsps of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and stir-fry the paneer till golden. Remove and drain on paper towels. Keep aside.
* Add 2 tbsps of oil to the same pan and fry the onions in it till soft.
* Add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry for a minute.
* Add the spinach, fenugreek leaves, tomato, coriander, cumin, turmeric and garam masala powders and mix well. Add salt to taste and mix well.
* Cook till the spinach and fenugreek leaves are soft and like pulp. Mash well into a rough paste. If you prefer, you can also blend this paste in the food processor to get a smoother consistency.
* Add the previously fried paneer cubes to this gravy and mix to coat the pieces.
* Garnish with butter and serve hot with Chapatis (Indian flatbread), parathas (pan-fried Indian flatbread)

Mutter Paneer

Ingredients:
* 500 gms paneer cubed
* 200 gms shelled peas
* 2 large onions
* 3 medium tomatoes
* 1 tbsp ginger paste
* 2 tbsps garlic paste
* 2 tsps coriander powder
* 1 tsp cumin powder
* 2 tsps garam masala
* 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
* 2 green chillies chopped fine
* 6 tbsps of oil
* 1 1/2 cups water
* Salt to taste
* 3 tbsps thickened/ double/ heavy cream
* Coriander leaves chopped fine to garnish

Preparation:
* Grind onions into a fine paste in a food processor. Keep aside.
* Next grind tomatoes into fine paste and keep aside.
* Heat 2-3 tbsps of oil in a pan and gently stir-fry the cubes of paneer till golden. Remove onto a paper towel and keep aside.
* In the same vessel heat 2-3 tbsps of oil and add the onion paste. Fry till it turns light brown.
* Add tomato paste, ginger and garlic paste and fry for another 2 minutes.
* Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric and garam masala powders, green chillies and fry, stirring continuously till the oil begins to separate from the masala (spice mixture).
* Add the peas to the masala and fry for 2-3 minutes.
* Then add the paneer, water and salt, reduce flame to a simmer and cook till the gravy thickens.
* When the gravy is as thick as you would like, turn off the flame and stir in the cream.
* Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.
* Mutter paneer tastes great with parathas, naans and even jeera rice.

Rajma (red kidney bean curry)

Ingredients:
* 2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed under running water
* 2 tbsps vegetable/canola/sunflower cooking oil
* 1 tsp cumin seeds
* 2 medium-sized onions chopped fine
* 2″piece of ginger jullinned
* 6 cloves of garlic minced
* 2 large tomatoes chopped into 1″ cubes
* 2 fresh green chillies chopped fine
* 2 tsps coriander powder
* 1 tsp cumin powder
* 1 tsp garam masala
* 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
* Salt to taste
* A pinch of asafetida
* Chopped coriander to garnish

Preparation:
* Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the cumin seeds. When they stop sizzling, add the onion and fry till soft.
* Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 2 minutes.
* Add the green chillies, tomatoes, coriander, cumin, turmeric and garam masala powders and fry till the oil separates from the masala.
* Add the red kidney beans, 4 cups of warm water, asafetida, salt to taste and cook till beans are very soft (aproximately 10 minutes).
* Mash some of the beans roughly (this thickens the gravy).
* Garnish with corainder and serve piping hot with plain boiled rice and Kachumbar salad and a pickle of your choice.

Dal Makhani

Ingredients:
* 200 g – black urad dal
* 50 g – rajma
* 4 – medium sized tomatoes (made into a puree)
* 3 – medium sized onions (finely chopped)
* 11/2 tbsp – crushed ginger
* 3 – green chillies (finely chopped)
* ΒΌ tsp – turmeric powder
* 2 sticks – cinnamon
* 1 – black cardamom (peeled)
* 5 – green cardamoms (peeled)
* 2 tsp – red chilli powder
* 1 tsp – cumin seed powder
* 2 tbsp – fresh cream/ malai
* finely chopped coriander leaves (to garnish)
* sufficient water to boil the dal
* 1 tsp – garlic paste
* 2 – bay leaves
* 5 tbsp – ghee
* 4 – cloves

Preparation:
* Wash, soak the dal and rajma in sufficient water for 8 hours.
* Pressure cook the dal and rajma in sufficient water along with salt, turmeric powder, cloves, bay leaves, cardamoms, cinnamon, 1 tbsp ginger and 1 tbsp ghee.
* Pressure cook first on a high flame.
* Simmer for 30 minutes or cook till the dal is done.
* Lightly heat the remaining ghee in a kadai.
* Add onions and green chillies.
* Saute on a low flame till the onions turn pink.
* Add the tomato puree, 1/2 tbsp crushed ginger, garlic paste and little salt. Saute for few minutes.
* Add red chilli powder and cumin seed powder.
* Saute on a low flame till oil separates.
* Add the onion tomato mixture to the dal. Mix well.
* Cook on a low flame for 15 to 20 minutes till the masalas and the dal are well blended.
* Garnish with fresh cream or malai and coriander leaves.
* Serve hot with hot phulkas, steamed rice and onion rings.