21st December 2001
This recipe is my homebrew attempt at synthesising my favourite
restaurant/takeaway curry in a quick-to-make form, since all the
dhansak recipes I've seen are very involved and don't read like they'd
produce anything very similar to the curry I know and love.
As with all my cooking, quantities are very approximate: I never
measure or weigh anything, so the amounts I've specified below are
just my rough guesses at the amount that I tend to slop in. Although
I work this way due to laziness, I argue that it's positively a good
thing, since the subtly different proportions every time you cook the
same thing stop the palate from getting so used to it that it becomes
Anyway, this recipe serves about four people as specified here, but
it's easy to do half quantities for two, or quantities-and-a-half for
it should take about half an hour.
- Two good handfuls of red lentils
- Five tablespoons of groundnut oil
- Three to five cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Two heaped teaspoons of cumin seeds
- A cubic inch of ginger root, finely chopped
- Four to six fresh or pickled chilis, finely chopped (optional)
- 300-500g chicken meat, in bite-size pieces
- Spices: one to two teaspoons each of garam masala, paprika, cumin
seed and general-purpose curry powder - or whatever you happen
to have around the house.
- Two big onions, very finely chopped
- A tin of pineapple rings, chopped (sorry, that's how it is)
- Another cubic inch of ginger root, this time finely sliced
- Some lemon juice
- Some coriander leaf, coarsely chopped (optional)
- Boil some water, add salt, and cook the lentils in it for maybe
twenty minutes. That can be going on quietly in the
background while you get on with the rest of the recipe.
- Heat up two tablespoons of the oil in a wok, and fry the garlic
in it for one minute.
- Add the cumin seed and fry for one more minute.
- Add the chopped ginger and fry for one more minute.
- Add the chilis and fry for one more minute.
- Add the chicken meat, and stir-fry for about five minutes, until
it's all gone white, with the garlic, cumin, ginger and chili
mulch sticking to it.
- Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and put it to one side,
leaving most of the oil and mulch in the wok.
- Add the rest of the oil together with the spices. Mix them all
up, and stir-fry for a minute or two.
- Add the onions to the wok, mixing thoroughly with the oil, mulch
and spices. If you think that more oil is needed at this
point, feel free to add it.
- Leave this onion mixture to fry for ten minutes or so, moving it
around occasionally to prevent sticking. If it seems to be
drying out, add some of the liquid from the tin of pineapple.
- This step is optional, depending on how you like your curry
texture: put about half of the onion mixture into a blender or
food processor, and whiz down into a coarse paste. Then add
it back into the wok.
- Your lentils should be cooked by now. Drain off the excess
- Add the chicken back into the wok, together with the chopped
pineapple, the sliced ginger and the drained lentils. Add
lemon juice to taste.
- If you're using the coriander leaf, mix it in.
- Leave to simmer gently for ten more minutes, adding more liquid
That's it, you're done. You can either eat this straight away (you
did remember to boil some rice while you were doing this, right?) or
you can let it cool down and re-heat it the next day (adding water as
necessary to get the texture right after the overnight evaporation.)
For some reason, this - like many curries - is actually rather better
the next day.
How authentic is this recipe? Who knows. Probably not very.
How good does it taste? Mmmmmm.
Just a note to let you know that I made the Chicken Dhansak recipe that
you have on your website mmmmm goood! I don't even remember how I came
across your recipe but sure am glad that I did ..I will be making the
TLC soup next.
And Perry Hunt
When I googled "Chicken Dhansak", your recipe came top of the
1st page! Delicious recipe, worked well for my Hamburg Curry Party.
While Raimond Doctor
in March 2003, rather less enthusiastically observed:
Sorry, as a native Parsi, your recipe is not at all Dhansak. Who puts
in pineapples in a dhansak? Please check it out or don't call it
dhansak. If you want I can oblige and send you the real stuff for
putting up on your site
I said yes please; just over two years later the recipe arrived and I
am very pleased to
link to it.
Having read it, it certainly sounds superb (and nothing like my own
recipe), but it's more work than I can face in this lifetime :-)