Thursday, September 15, 2016


Dhansak is of Parsi origin and is a healthy sweet, sour and hot stew. The name comes from dhan meaning grain and sak, a Gujarati word for stewed vegetables.

Dhansak has elements of Persian and Indian cuisine. The sweetness is obtained from some kind of pumpkin, gourd or squash, and tomatoes. The sourness can come from lime, lemon or tamarind. Traditionally this would be quite a hot dish but I prefer this one about medium.  It’s a flavorful, healthy and delicious curry contributed by the Parsi community.



There are hundreds of recipes for Dhansak and they are all different, every time I make it I do it slightly differently.  It has quite a list of ingredients and does take a little while to make - it is a traditional Sunday dish in many Parsi homes - but it is totally worth it !

This is the vegetarian version of the Dhansak recipe. I have included the non-vegetarian (MUTTON) recipe as well.  (**The recipe for the Dhansak Masala is given below.**)

**Lamb or mutton is the traditional meat for Dhansak and other meat is rarely used, but this dish is nothing if not versatile and you can use chicken or even no meat to make a vegetarian dish.**


Lentils :
1 cup Arhar/tur dal/ yellow pigeon peas
½ cup chana dal
½ cup orange Masoor dal
¼ cup urad dal

Mutton Dhansak Dal:
1 kg mutton
Salt to taste

To pressure cook with the lentils:
1 brinjal – chopped
2 tbsp Kasuri Methi
Handful of fresh Mint Leaves
Salt to taste

To fry Separately :
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 large potatoes – cut into wedges
2 big onions – chopped
1.5 inch ginger
3 green chillies
1 pod of garlic
1 tomato
1 tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
3 tbsp Dhansak Masala (recipe given below)

Additions in the Dhansak:
1 lime
1 tsp sugar
Crispy caramelized onion slivers for garnishing

Simple Caramelized Basmati Rice:
3 cups Basmati Rice
1 large onion
3 tbsp sugar
Salt to taste

Soak all the lentils together for at least 3 hours prior to cooking. This is very important as part of the cooking process.

Drain them and wash in cold water. In a pressure cooker, put the chopped brinjal, chopped fresh mint leaves, salt to taste and kasuri methi along with the lentils. Put double the quantity of water in the pressure cooker.

Pressure cook it for 10-12 minutes on medium flame.  Keep aside.

Par- boil the potato wedges. Keep aside.

**For Mutton Dhansak Dal:  **
Heat oil and cook the mutton in a thick bottomed kadai.  Saute on high heat for around 10-12 minutes. After the mutton is browned, cook till the water evaporates. Add a cup water and cook the mutton on medium heat for 30-40 mins. I use a pressure cooker and cook the mutton for about 30 minutes after the first whistle. After 30 minutes, switch off the stove and let the pressure drop on it's own.
Keep Aside.

In a frying pan, heat 2 tbsp ghee.  Fry the cumin seeds, ginger, garlic and green chillies on low flame.

Add the onions and fry till they are translucent and lose their colour and brown well. 

Now add the dry spices. Add the chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and the Dhansak masala. Fry well till the ghee separates.

At this stage, add the tomatoes. Mix well and let fry till the tomatoes soften.

Add the par-boiled potato wedges to this mixture. Mix well and let it cook covered for 5 minutes on a  medium-low flame.

Now, open up the pressure cooker. The lentils and the veggies would have softened by now. Mash them well to ensure that there are no lumps.

Now, add the contents of the frying pan into the cooker. Gently mix well.

Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the mashed lentils.  Add 1 tsp of sugar.

**For Mutton Dhansak Dal:  **
Add the cooked mutton pieces into the lentils and masala mixture. Mix well.

At this stage, adjust the consistency of the Dhansak Dal.  The final consistency of Parsi Dhansak Dal is like thick ‘Daal’ with a rich chocolate brown color.

Let the Dhansak Dal simmer on low heat for 5-7 minutes

Garnish with the Crispy caramelized onion slivers.

Simple Caramelized Basmati Rice:

To cook rice, heat the pan, add sugar to it and let the sugar caramelize.

Add the Ghee and fry the onions for a few minutes till they brown and then add the rice.

Pour water in the pan and cook rice till done.

To serve Dhansak, arrange the caramelized rice on the plate and serve with the cooked dal along with Tomato, cucumber onion Salad and a slice of lemon.

**Dhansak Masala Powder**


1 Kg. Coriander seeds (Dhanya seeds)
200 grms Cumin (Jeera Seeds)
100 grms Black Pepper (Kali Mirchi)
100 grms Fenugreek seeds (Methi seeds)
100 grms Black Mustard seeds (Rai)
300 grms Red Chilies
200 grms Haldi (Turmeric powder)
50 grms Tej Patta (Tamal Patta)
20 grms Badyan (Black Flower shaped anise pods)
20 grms Lavang (Cloves)
20 grms Dalchini (Cinnamon sticks)
20 grms Dry Soonth (Ginger powder)
20 grms Elaichi (Cardamom powder)


1. Check and clean all ingredients for debris and keep in sunlight for 1 day.
2. Roast on Tava taking care to prevent scorching.
3. Cool. Then grind into a powder.

4. Let the Masala cool. Sieve and fill in airtight containers.
5. Keep this masala refrigerated if you want to store it for a longer duration.