In the last couple of months I’ve shared plenty of Parsi recipes but the most requested has been one that isn’t one of my favourites so I’ve refrained. Till today that is. I’m finally sharing an easy recipe to what is possibly the most popular and highly requested dish from the Parsi cuisine – Dhansak.
I’m not saying this is the best recipe or the most authentic, recipes differ from house to house and grandma to grandma, each adding their own twists and creating their versions but I am saying that this is a fabulous recipe that’s very tasty. I’ve made this with mutton chunks on the bone as that is the most traditional way to eat Dhansak but if you wanted to keep this vegetarian you use the exact same recipe just eliminate the mutton completely.
What Is Dhansak
It is a hearty robust dish relished by the Parsi community consisting of mutton or sometimes chicken pieces cooked in a dal or gravy made with three different lentils ( dals ) served with caramelised brown rice and a side salad of chopped onions tomato chilli coriander and a dash of lime called Kachumbar.
While Dhasak has earned nearly cult like status among devout foodies, it’s a staple you’ll find in most Parsi households every Sunday for lunch. Typically this is a meal eaten as a sign of mourning after the 4th day of the passing of a loved one as the family abstains from meat till then. So technically this is not a celebratory meal so you will never find it on a menu at a wedding or to celebrate any happy or festive occasion. You will find it’s cousin Pulao Dar which is similar in taste and texture but yet completely different.
What Are The Different Types Of Dhansak
In simple terms Dhansak refers to the gravy and rice which is made with vegetables and lentils. The meat is added to this hence making it a mutton dhansak or a chicken one. Menus will always specify the type of Dhansak so you could find either a Mutton dhasak, a chicken dhansak or just a plain vegetarian dhansak. You won’t ever find fish or any kind of seafood in the dhansak nor do you usually find pork in it.
What Is The Difference Between Dhansak And Pulao Dar
Two completely different dishes yet oh so similar. Dhansak is made with cooked chunks of meat where the pular dar with without any chunks of meat in the dal or gravy. Instead you’ll often find small mutton kebabs in the rice of the pulao but the gravy is without any meat at all. While the ingredients are similar if not almost the same the rice is very different. The dhansak rice is brown caramalised rice where the pulao is lighter and with meatballs or kebabs but sometimes even with pieces of meat.
Ingredients For The Dhansak
500 grams mutton pieces
Ginger Garlic paste
3 Chopped Onions
1 Teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
2 TeaspoonsTurmeric Powder
3 -4 Teaspoons Dhansak Masala Powder
1 Small Brinjal (eggplant/aubergine )
1/2 Small Yellow Pumpkin
1/2 Cup chopped Methi ( Fenugreek ) or a teaspoon of the seeds
1 Cup Tur Dal
1 Cup Moong Dal
1 Cup Masoor Dal
For The Rice
1 Cup Basmati Rice soaked
3-4 Onions sliced
3-4 Teaspoons of Sugar
2-3 Teaspoons Salt
Marinate the mutton pieces in a bit of salt and ginger garlic paste for a minimum of an hour.
In a pressure cooker, saute the onions till they turn slightly brown then add in the chopped tomatoes. Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, dhansak masala powder and some salt along with a cup or so of water so everything mixes well and blends together. Add the marinated mutton and cook in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes.
Once it cooks and cools down a little, open the cooker and transfer all the cooked meat into a pot and keep it aside.
In the same cooker add in all your vegetables that is the brinjal, pumpkin, methi leaves and the three dals that have been soaking along with a cup or two of water or till the cooker is filled with water. Add 2 – 3 teaspoons of salt along with a teaspoon of turmeric and about another teaspoon or two of the dhansak masala.
Mix it all and then pressure cook this for 20 mins. I actually cooked it for about 10 – 15 minutes which is also ok but I find it blends much easier if you cook it for a little bit longer so I’m saying between 15-20 mins.
Once cooked and it cools a little open up the cooker and gently with either a potato masher or even an emulsion blender, mash and blend the dal and vegetables till you get a smooth consistancy. If the dal is too thick you can keep adding water to thin it out.
Transfer this cooked dal into your pot and add in the cooked mutton as well. Mix both these two together and the dal will turn into a nice brownish colour. Again you can keep adjusting the consistency of the dal by adding water to hit as it heats and comes to a boil.
Now you can actually make the rice while the dal is cooking if you prefer or do it in the end. In a pot add oil and your sliced onions along with 3 teaspoons of sugar. I’ve only added 3 teaspoons but most recipes ask for 6. Once the onions have caramalised and turn brown along with the sugar add in your soaked rice and water along with a lot of salt and some cardamom powder. Lots of recipes use whole spices like cloves star anise and the cardamom pod while cooking the onions you can do that too but I prefer to just use cardamom powder. Cook the rice for about 7 mins or untill it is cooked, drain it and serve. This whole process should give you a brown coloured rice.
Serve the rice and dhansak dal and enjoy !
How To Store Dhansak
The best part about dhansak is that it stays very well in the fridge and also freezes well. The dal always tastes better the next day or after a few days so it’s a great recipe to make in bulk and then ration out through the week. It’s ideal for weekly meal prep.
How To Serve Dhansak
The rice and dal with meat is served together. Traditionally a nice side salad called Kachumbar is accompanied with this dish. Its chopped onion, tomato some coriander, perhaps a chopped chilli if you like it spicy and some lime drizzled on top. You could also serve this with some roasted papad to add a nice crunchy texture to the dish.
Other Popular Parsi Recipes
These are some popular Parsi recipe videos on my channel as well that you might enjoy.