dhansak (Parsi chicken and lentils)

click on image to see larger version
dhansak (photo ejm Feb2006) I keep raving about the dhansak that T made for me a couple of weeks ago. Granted, it’s not the prettiest looking stew, but it really is delicious! And because T wasn’t as wild about it as I am, there is plenty of it in containers in the freezer for me to have on the nights when we cannot have dinner together.

We first heard about dhansak in 2002 from my sister, who had seen a recipe for it in the cookbook 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi. I begged T to make dhansak and he did. And he claimed that he really liked it. I loved it!

methi closeup (tph feb2006)And then a couple of weeks ago, when Barbara (Tigers and Strawberries) posted about buying methi (fenugreek leaves), I remembered that we hadn’t had dhansak for ages and begged him again to make it again for me.

So we bought some fresh methi, tamarind, Asian eggplants, tomatoes and chicken. T began to slave away in the kitchen, preparing a feast of aloo gobi, onion pulao and dhansak.

dahl comparison (tph feb2006) He started by soaking toor dahl. Toor dahl is a small yellow lentil. Note that the toor dahl on the right is a little smaller than yellow split peas on the left (see image).

And I headed off to work. So that is as much as I saw until I got home and walked into the wonderful aromas of my feast all ready to be served.

(click on images to see larger views)

onion pulao, aloo gobi, dhansak (ejm feb2006) And what a feast it was!

Have I mentioned that I loved it?

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5 responses to “dhansak (Parsi chicken and lentils)

  1. Mats

    You are right about the appearance of this dish, although, with the yellow of the turmeric and the addition of a few sprigs of dill and some thin sticks of red pepper while plating , it can look pretty good. But the taste! Well, there are very few equals in my playlist!

  2. ejm Post author

    Dill is an interesting idea for a garnish. I hadn’t thought of that. I would have used coriander leaf if we’d had any left over (T used all that we had on hand that day in the cooking).

  3. bing

    I just noticed that you don’t have dill in your recipe for dhansak dal. For me, the combination of the dill and the mint is what makes dhansak “dhansak”. Any reason why you leave it out?

  4. ejm Post author

    Hmmm, I guess we don’t have dill because we didn’t know that dill was supposed to be there. Or maybe we didn’t have any dill when we made it the first time. And I took the book back to the library so I can’t look at the original recipe…

    What other ingredients are we missing?

  5. bing

    Here are the main discrepancies that I can see between your recipe compared to Camellia Punjabi’s:

    Missing: 1/4 cup dill, finely chopped. You add the dill right at the beginning, for the initial cooking of the lentils, with the potato and other vegetables, and the first half of the garlic and ginger. (She puts whole garlic and ginger pieces into the initial mixture; it disappears during the

    Missing: 7 oz red pumpkin. (I see you mention this in your Preparation notes. I don’t use red pumpkin either, or eggplant; I just use a few carrots instead.)

    Missing: step where you partially puree the dal. She does this after the initial cooking and before the addition of all the flavourings.

    Difference: Where you have 1 tablespoon brown sugar, she has jaggary or palm sugar. I bet your acquisition of the recipe precedes your discovery of jaggery …


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