Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dhansak (Chicken Cooked With Lentils And Vegetables)

Dhansak is the best known and liked dish in Parsee Cuisine. Parsees adopted Gujarati as their language and absorbed local influence into their cuisine. 'In Parsee Gujarati, 'Dhaan' means rice and 'Sak' means vegetables. Dhansak is a meat, vegetable and lentil curry which is eaten with caramelized brown pulao rice. Although the dish contains many ingredients, it is quite simple to prepare. The following recipe is from the book 'Great Curries of India' by Camellia Panjabi. I did not add red pumpkin and used water instead of chicken stock. Me and my husband loved the curry. I am jotting the down exact recipe given in the book.
Ingredients:(Serves 6)
Chicken - 3 lb, cut into 6 or more pieces
Toor Dal - 11/2 cups (10 oz)
Tamarind Pulp - 4 tbsp
Ginger - 2 inch piece, peeled
Garlic - 6 cloves
Onions - 2, large, chopped
Red Pumpkin - 3/4 cup, chopped
Eggplants - 2/3 cup, chopped
Potato - 1, chopped
Fresh Dill - 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Cilantro Leaves - 1 cup + 1 tbsp
Fresh Mint Leaves - 20
Oil - 1/4 cup
Fresh Fenugreek leaves - 1/2 bunch (or 2 tsp kasuri methi)
Parsee Sambar Masala - 3tsp
Dhansak Masala - 2 tsp
Cumin Powder - 1 tsp
Coriander Powder - 3 tsp
Cayenne Powder - 2 tsp
Tomatoes - 3 medium sized, chopped
Green Chillies - 3, chopped
Jaggery/Palm Sugar - 1 tbsp
Lime Juice of 1 whole lime
Salt - As per taste

For the Dhansak Powder:
If unavailable at the grocery store, use a mixture of 11/2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 teaspoon star anise powder and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder.

For the Parsee Sambar Masala:
Mix 3/4 teaspoon fenugreek powder, 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder, 1 teaspoon red cayenne powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper.

Method of Preparation:
1. Wash the toor dal and soak it in water for 30 minutes. Chop finely 4 garlic cloves and 11/2 inch of ginger piece.
2. In a large cooking pot, add the dal to cook in 3 cups water along with chopped onions, pumpkin, eggplants, potato and dill. Add the turmeric powder, whole remaining piece of ginger, remaining 2 garlic cloves, 1 tbsp of chopped coriander leaves and 8 mint leaves. Simmer until the dal is very soft. Allow to cool slightly. Liquidize with an egg beater to achieve a creamy consistency. Season with 1 teaspoon salt.
3. While the dal is cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry chopped ginger, garlic, 1 cup cilantro leaves, 12 mint leaves, fenugreek, Parsee sambar masala, dhansak masala, cumin and coriander powders, cayenne powder, tomatoes and green chillies and fry for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the chicken and saute for 2 minutes. Season with 1 tsp of salt and stir well.
4. Add the chicken to the dal with 3 cups of water or chicken stock. Add the jaggery, simmer until the chicken is cooked through before adding the tamarind pulp and lime juice. Adjust the salt, then simmer for a couple of minutes.
5. Serve  the Dhansak with hot steamed rice or pulav.


  1. Kinda chicken bisi bele bath.. isn't it? looks so yum... slurp slurp.... :)

  2. chicken and lentil delicious combination

  3. delicious curry ...love the gravy with lethil

  4. Hi Sujana... first time in your space... I like it... You have a variety of recipes... following you...

  5. Never tried the combo..looks so yummy

  6. Yummy combination of chicken with lentils.

  7. new to your blog Sujana and love your cherished page. lovely recipes and dhanshak looks very tempting.

  8. I have tasted this dish in my Parsi friend's house. I will try it out now with your recipe.



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