Thursday, April 9, 2009

Great Indian Food You Are Going To Love!

An Indian dish called dhansak. 

It is made with four types of lentils (aka "dhal" or "dal") and chicken. (Apologies to all the vegetarians out there.) The complete Indian (Parsee) name is murgh dhansak (meaning chicken curry made with lentils in a savory sauce.) Most restaurants who serve this dish make it medium spicy, so if you don't like any spicyness in your food, you may like to request it mild.  

It is eaten with Pulao Rice. Meantime here is the recipe for those who want to create it at home:

Rice Method: (start this around 15 minutes to the end)

2 cups         Indian Basmati Rice
6 tbsp          oil
1 tbsp          whole cumin
6          whole cloves
1 stick         cinnamon
8          whole black peppers
1/2          onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup          frozen peas
         large black cardamon seeds

Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the pepper, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. Fry until brown. To this add the cumin and onions and fry until onions are soft and pink. Meanwhile wash and soak rice for 1/2 hour. Then add the rice to the pan and fry for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 4 cups water and cook until rice is done.

Dhansak Method:

1/4 tsp 
1/4 tsp 
1/2 tsp 
1 tbsp 
1/2 tsp 
1 tsp 
1/2 tsp 
1 cup 

2 1/2 cups 

1/4 cup 

1/2 cup 
1 1/3 cups 
2/3 cup 
1/4 cup 
1 tsp 
11/2 lb 
2-inch piece 
1/4 cup 
2 tsp 
1 tbsp 
2/3 cup
1 1/3 cups 
1 tsp

seeds from 3 cardamom pods
ground nutmeg
ground fenugreek
chili powder 
ground star anise 
ground black pepper 
mixed dal (lentil), washed and soaked for 1 hour 
you will need: toor, masoor, urad and moong 1/4 cup each. 
chopped cilantro 
large onions, chopped 
diced pumpkin 
diced eggplant 
diced potatoes 
vegetable oil 
garam masala 
boneless chicken breasts, cubed 
fresh ginger, peeled and grated 
garlic cloves, crushed 
chopped fenugreek leaves 
large green chilies, finely chopped up 
(you could make this only one chili, if you want a mild dish!) 
large tomatoes, chopped up 
tomato paste 
dark brown sugar 
Tamarind water 
chicken stock 
white wine vinegar 
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

Heat a dry skillet pan until it's hot, then add cardamom, cloves, and all the ground spices (nutmeg, star anise, pepper and fenugreek), and dry-fry for 4-5 minutes or until the spices are toasted and releasing their aroma. Put the dal (lentils mix) into a saucepan with the water, 1 tablespoon of the chopped cilantro, 2 tsp of the spice mixture, the onions, pumpkin, eggplant, and potatoes.

Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes or until the vegetables and lentils are very soft. Remove from the heat and puree in a blender (that's right! in a blender) to a smooth sauce.

Heat the oil and fry the remaining spice mixture with the garam masala. Add the chicken cubes, and fry on all sides to seal. (It is sometimes helpful to get the chicken going first by pre-cooking in a microwave.) Add the ginger, garlic, the remaining chopped cilantro, fenugreek leaves, tomatoes and green chilies to the skillet and cook for 10 minutes. Reminder: about twenty minutes into this final section of cooking, you will need to start the rice. Don't forget, because it is great when both gets served at the same time! Add the pureed dal mixture to the chicken with the tomato paste, sugar, tamarind water, and stock. Simmer gently, covered, for 35 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through and is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the vinegar and lemon juice.

Simmer for 5 minutes and serve on silver platters 
with Basmati (jasmine, pulao or whatever rice! It really is best with Basmati. Look at my separate recipe for the rice, which needs to be started 11 minutes before the rest of the dhansak is ready.)

Also, you might want to break out the mango chutney and lime pickle!

Serves 4 - Enjoy!

1 comment:

Figs said...

In order to succeed this recipe you have to use Diamond Pearl Basmati Rice. This is a Pure Indian Basmati rice. If you want more informations go on the website or send a mail at