Chicken Dhansak

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 boring.

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 six.

it should take about half an hour.



  1. 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.
  2. Heat up two tablespoons of the oil in a wok, and fry the garlic in it for one minute.
  3. Add the cumin seed and fry for one more minute.
  4. Add the chopped ginger and fry for one more minute.
  5. Add the chilis and fry for one more minute.
  6. 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.
  7. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and put it to one side, leaving most of the oil and mulch in the wok.
  8. Add the rest of the oil together with the spices. Mix them all up, and stir-fry for a minute or two.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Your lentils should be cooked by now. Drain off the excess cooking water.
  13. Add the chicken back into the wok, together with the chopped pineapple, the sliced ginger and the drained lentils. Add lemon juice to taste.
  14. If you're using the coriander leaf, mix it in.
  15. Leave to simmer gently for ten more minutes, adding more liquid if necessary.

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.

Unsolicited Testimonials!

Richard Grant <> writes:

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 <> writes:

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 :-)

Feedback to <> is welcome!