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  • Chicken Dilruba

    Posted on | July 24, 2007 | 28 Comments |

    I am ashamed to admit this, but when it comes to the myriad cuisines of India, I am more or less ignorant about most regional flavors other than a few. That is why I love the food event RCI – Regional Cuisines of India, brainchild of Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine. Even though I don’t participate every month, I look forward to the round up to learn more about the cuisine of the month.

    This month’s RCI theme is Punjabi cuisine, another great genre that’s never been part of my cooking. I was first introduced to Punjabi cuisine at the Dhabas in Bangalore. Dhabas are small roadside shacks, traditionally built as a late night eatery for interstate truckers. Food is cooked in a small shed, and the restaurant seating consists of wooden benches and cots laid out under the open sky, with a background of Punjabi music blaring through the loudspeakers. Dhabas are supposedly truck stops, but you would find more software engineers than truckers in these dhabas in Bangalore.  We used to frequent the dhabas after midnight – the oily, spicy, heavy dhaba food would just soak up all the alcohol from the bloodstream after a long night at the pub.  Oh those were the days…

    When my dear friend Richa of As Dear As Salt announced that she is hosting RCI-Punjab, I knew I will participate for sure, but  had no idea what I’d cook though. So I went on a quest, and stumbled on a dish called Chicken Dilruba. The name made me smile, but I didn’t know what it is supposed to look like or taste like! Almost all the recipes I found were the exact same, so I have no idea where it originally came from. Here is the first place that I found this recipe. 

    The recipe called for Punjabi Garam Masala, which I found here:

    I made my own variations to the recipe, and the end product looked like this, with a little more gravy. Not sure if this is what it is supposed to look like, but it sure tasted great!

     Here is my take on the recipe

    Punjabi Garam Masala


    • 1 tbsp Cardamom seeds
    • 1 tbsp broken pieces of Cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp cloves
    • a pinch of ground nutmeg
    • 3/4 tbsp cumin seeds
    • 1 tbsp black peppercorns


    Coarsely grind the above ingredients in a dry spice grinder or coffee grinder, or pound in a mortar and pestle

    Chicken Dilruba


    • 2.5 lbs medium chicken pieces skin removed
    • 1 cup plain yogurt
    • To Grind
      • 1.5 cups cut onion pieces
      • 2 tbsp fresh chopped ginger pieces
    • 1.5 tbsp Punjabi Garam Masala (Recipe above)
    • 1 cup milk
    • To Powder
      • 1/4 cup cashew nuts 
      • 1/4 cup almonds
    • 2 tbsp chopped Serrano peppers
    • 1 tbsp red chilli powder (substitute ground cayenne)
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • 4 tbsp oil
    • Salt to taste
    • A few strands of saffron
    • 2-3 tbsp milk
    • To garnish
      • 1 tbsp Fresh cilantro
      • 1 tsp cashews/almonds


    Grind the onions and ginger in a food processor to form a smooth paste.

    Powder the almonds and cashew nuts and stir into the cup of milk and keep aside.

    Soak the saffron strands in 2-3 tbsps milk and keep aside.

    Heat oil in a deep pan and fry the onion-ginger paste till all the water is gone, and the mixture starts to brown.

    Add the chicken pieces and yogurt and mix well. Cook on medium high until all the liquid is gone and the chicken pieces starts to brown.

    Add the chilli powder, turmeric powder, chopped pepper, salt and garam masala and stir well to combine. Fry for a minute and add the powdered nuts and milk mixture.

    Cook over medium heat until the chicken pieces are tender and the sauce is thickened.

    Add the soaked saffron along with the milk, and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

    Garnish with chopped cilantro and nuts.

    Serve hot with chapattis or rice.

    This goes to dear Richa for RCI-Punjab.

    AFAM Request

     It is my turn to host A Fruit A Month in August.  I’ve shortlisted to  Lychees (In season right now),  Papaya(always a favorite) and Grapes (Boring, but common and easy).
    Help me pick one, caste your vote on the left sidebar. Let democracy rule! :)

    Category: Chicken, India - Other, Mains, Recipes

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    28 Responses to “Chicken Dilruba”

    1. Meeta
      July 24th, 2007 @ 5:21 am

      Bhalle Bhalle meri dilruba!! This is a great dish. Love how creamy and thick it looks. I think I know what’s being cooked here on the weekend! Thanks sweetie!

    2. Cinnamon
      July 24th, 2007 @ 6:15 am

      Looks very delicious…..Thanks for sharing!!

    3. Raaga
      July 24th, 2007 @ 6:38 am

      Lychees are out… they just went out of season in Delhi 2 weeks ago. I’d pick grapes :-) Papaya is almost always in season :-) I’m off to Manali for a vacation. If I find Lychees there, I’ll vote for lychees :-)

      Great looking dish. And I love the name too.

    4. musical
      July 24th, 2007 @ 7:01 am

      Wow Sig, that looks gorgeous! really looks like one dilruba :-D . hey, ever dined at Queens in B’lore? wasn’t it amazing :-D .

    5. Jyothsna
      July 24th, 2007 @ 7:51 am

      Sig – Are you sure you didn’t add puli and coconut milk to the chicken :) )) Good for you, you’ve ventured into Punjabi cuisine :)

    6. madhuli
      July 24th, 2007 @ 7:54 am

      Papaya..Lychee season is over and so is grape I vote for Papaya!!!:)

    7. Coffee
      July 24th, 2007 @ 8:38 am

      LYCHEE!! LYCHEE!! LOL!! ;)

      More soft ware engineers than truckers in the dhaba!!! That was a good one! :)

    8. sunita
      July 24th, 2007 @ 9:18 am

      Can’t stop drooling over the dilruba :) …I really love all those Punjabi dishes…

    9. sra
      July 24th, 2007 @ 9:30 am

      Lovely shot, Sig. Not sure how I feel about milk in meat, though!

    10. indosungod
      July 24th, 2007 @ 10:47 am

      Love the name. Balle Balle. Looks creamy and rich what with all the yogurt, almonds and cashews.

    11. Padmaja
      July 24th, 2007 @ 11:14 am

      Hey Sig!!
      thats so alluring!!
      I tried Naan for the first time for this event and I am so thrilled, will post the recipe today!BTW I voted her papaya as Lychees are not really my fav, so please please let papaya win

    12. Sia
      July 24th, 2007 @ 11:21 am

      are wah!!! dilruba…that name suits u more than the recipe sweetheart:)
      i came to say thanks to u for giving instructions for horizontal nav bar:) now my blog looks clutter free:) thanks darling:)

    13. Richa
      July 24th, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

      yay! astounding recipe and an excellent choice for RCI :) beautiful medley of spices, i can well imagine this smooth thick gravy with naan or jeera rice, YUM! the fact that u made garam masala as well, definitely adds to the taste!
      thanks sweetie :)

    14. Sharmi
      July 24th, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

      the name looks so cute “Dilruba”.
      Papaya is fine. but not many dishes can be made out of these fruits. why dont you go for berries in general. like, black, blue, and raspberries. else opt for cherries.just a suggestion.

    15. Asha
      July 24th, 2007 @ 1:04 pm

      Dilruba sounds like Mughal dish but I can see it’s Sikh dish by your links.Looks so yummy.Great entry.
      Thanks for the Punjabi GM! I am on to making spice powders these days!:D

    16. Mishmash !
      July 24th, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

      Early (?) morning you made me crave fro some real dhaba food :)
      Can I vote for grapes ?

    17. Priyanka
      July 24th, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

      A great entry….i am voting for Lychees…. and then grapes……

    18. Jyothi
      July 24th, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

      Hi Sig! a lovely entry. Chicken Dilruba, name is quiet different and looks yummy. Thanks for sharing.

    19. Sharmi
      July 24th, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

      hey I suddenly remembered that it would be great to choose peaches, as it is the season and ppl get to do some recipes too. again a suggestion:)

    20. Sandeepa
      July 24th, 2007 @ 2:24 pm

      Love the way your dilruba…umm your chicken dilruba looks :)

      Musical…Queens was really really good. Those phulkas, baingan bharta was to die for

    21. Sheela
      July 24th, 2007 @ 7:19 pm

      Sig, yummy gravy – almonds+cashew+ginger+garlic – how can you go wrong, right?

      i am like you, i haven’t explored all indian regional cuisine – my friend tried to show me some Assamese recipes, they use urad dal a lot, she said…

      hey, also, berries and peaches are in season, but looks like your mind is made up, huh?

    22. Padma
      July 24th, 2007 @ 7:38 pm

      Chicken dilruba to mera dil churake legaya….love the ingredients of the dish and OMG what cool pics! I am sure you had a blast past weekend, :( I missed it though!

    23. Anh
      July 24th, 2007 @ 10:40 pm

      Oh, this is truly a great dish! I will try it out very soon. thanks for sharing.

    24. Sig
      July 25th, 2007 @ 6:15 am

      Meeta… lol, u crack me up… hope u try it… it turned out yummy!

      Cinnamon, thanks

      Raaga, oh really, its gone out of season already? may be u can find some canned ones? :) Enjoy your vacation!

      Musie, I do remember Queens.. on Church st right? ..sigh…i loved the bangalore days…

      Jyo… i sure was tempted to add some coconut milk :)

      Madhuli, grape has a season? :D Papaya is one of my fav fruit too, but looks like lychee is winning…

      Coffee, lol… someone likes lychee… :D

      Sunita, :) thanks… as long as you are not drooling over my dilruba, its fine :D

      Sra, Milk in meat is not bad actually… My mom substitute coconut milk with milk in a lot of dishes like chicken curry, egg curry etc… try it, you won’t notice its milk… I swear..

      Indo, yep it sure was creamy…and rich too… original recipe called for ghee, I couldnt get myself to do that. :)

      Padmaja, I’ll check out the naan recipe soon… we all try new stuff thanks to blogging.. :) too bad u don’t like lychees, looks like it is the clear winner… :) I am sure there must be some recipe you’d like with lychees.

      Sup, :) thanks darling… and glad to know the navbar worked for you… ur site looks great with it :D

      Richa, :) thanks for the event sweetie, made this just for you…

      Sharmi ,I thought about Peaches and berries, but I wasn’t sure if those were available in other parts of the world as in the US. :( , thought these will be more common…

      Asha, the name is so funny right? :) You want to make Punju GM too, you have a big collection of homemade spices now, don’t you? :)

      Shn, once upon a time I could eat dhaba food any time of the day, mostly early mornings… :) … grapes , sorry darling, grapes seems to be trailing far behind :)

      Priyanka, thanks :)

      Jyothi, thanks :) the name is what attracted me to this drink… but glad I tried it…

      Sandeepa, stop ogling my dilruba… :D

      Sheela, yep we need to explore more on the other cuisines I guess… about peaches and berries, as I told Sharmi above, I thought it is hard to find these in India…

      Padma, thanks :)

      Anh, thanks… let me know what you think if you end up trying… :)

    25. shilpa(Aayisrecipes)
      July 25th, 2007 @ 4:55 pm

      Ohh looks like my kinda dish. I have to try this….Can I pick one from that plate somehow?

    26. Susmitha
      November 27th, 2007 @ 12:21 am

      Thanks for the recipe
      Can i have the recipe for Chole Bhatura. :smile:

      Thanks for dropping by Susmitha, sorry, I’ve never made Chole Batura :(

    27. Indian Cookbook Magazine
      May 30th, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

      CURRY OF BEEF – a great PAKISTAN food recipe…try this hot recipe 1INGREDIENTS1 tbsp. flour1 1/8 tsp. salt1/4 tsp. pepper1 lb. lean round steak, cut into 1/2 inch cubes1/4 c. salad oil2 c. sliced onion1/2 minced clove of garlic1 tsp. curry powder

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      May 21st, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

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