Dak Chicken Bungalow


Hill Station Curry 

This is a comforting and original Chicken Curry, it’s roots are in the British Raj and the dish was cultivated in rest stop bungalows across the hill stations of India. These bungalows were known as Dak Bungalows. Dak being the Hindi word for mail refers to these bungalows built to give the mail carriers or passing British Army officers and officials some respite along a Dak (mail) route. The bungalows could also be used by passing travelers, who’d have to pay for their keep for the night which would often include a meal. The Daks were run by a Khansamah, or caretaker who’d tend some vegetables, keep chickens and perhaps a goat or two.

These Daks were the Inns or Coach Houses of their time and the life-line of the Grand Trunk Roads, Mountain routes and also canal systems. This Dak Chicken Bungalow curry is a recipe from that era, and would certainly have been eaten by an officer of the British Raj over 150 years ago. Dak houses contain as much history, of quarrels, suicides, divorces, murders, causes celebres, as anywhere in India. 

Taste a mouthful of history, it’s food adventure as its tastiest.

Serves 6+

  • 2kg boneless chicken thighs
  • 60ml mustard oil (you can substitute with extra virgin olive oil)
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 1 large thumb of ginger 1 inch
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 5 whole dry red chillies
  • 100g plain whole yoghurt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 tbs coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
Dak bungalow chicken curry

How To Make Dak Bungalow Chicken 

Make a paste of the ginger, garlic, onion, tomatoes, sugar, coriander seeds and whole dry red chillies by blending the ingredients into a rough paste. Now make the marinade by mixing the paste with the coriander powder and garam masala powder, the plain yoghurt, turmeric powder and 2tbs mustard oil. Marinade the chicken with this mix and leave it in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours.

Heat 2tbs mustard oil and add in the marinated chicken, adding a dash of salt to taste. Cover and cook for 30 minutes over a low heat until the chicken is tenderly falling apart under the pressure of a fork.  Garnish with coriander and serve with hot rotis.

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