Peshawri Chicken


I love Dubai but not just for its glitzy shopping malls, desert safaris and glamorous lifestyle. I love Dubai because in between the dazzling skyscrapers the wind picks up the desert sand and hurls it around. A reminder that this visionary city has humble beginnings built by migrant workers from Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

While the working and living conditions of an estimated three million migrant workers is contentious, their food culture is not. A melting pot of cuisines can be found in this country. Thanks to a little guidance from our beloved Anthony Bourdain (may he rest in peace) we found ourselves in the Pakistani restaurant, Ravi.

Established in 1978, Ravi is popular for good reason. A mix of Indian, Far Eastern and Middle Eastern cooking, Pakistani food uses simple ingredients to build complex flavours in dishes like, biryani, mantu and tandoori chicken. However, it was Peshawri chicken that really got us hooked on Pakistani food.

I am fortunate to have a friend, Karen, in Adelaide who is from the region of Peshawar. She learned most of her cooking from her mother, but she is also a fan of Bajias cooking, a famous Pakistani cook residing in Brisbane. Well I’m sure Bajias has great recipes, but it is Karen’s Peshawri chicken recipe that has brought back fond memories of eating Pakistani food in Dubai. Thanks for sharing Karen.


Serves 2


  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 chicken, cut into quarters
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cm piece ginger, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, ground
  • 2-3 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves


Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Add chicken pieces, onion, crushed garlic, ginger and cumin and fry for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

FYI: Karen uses a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, ginger and cumin together – you could also use a small spice/coffee grinder.

Add tomatoes and salt and cook on medium heat until the tomatoes break down to become a thick sauce.

Add turmeric powder and continue to cook on low for 10-15 minutes until the oil separates from the sauce.  At this point you can add water to make a gravy or leave it thick.

Serve with green chilli, coriander and fresh naan.

We enjoyed it with rice, minted yoghurt and a green salad.

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