Chicken with Lentils and Vegetables (Dhansak)

Chicken with Lentils and Vegetables (Dhansak)

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The Par sees are an important religious sect whose members fled from Persia hundreds of years ago and settled mainly on the west coast of India. They have remained intact as a community and their cooking is quite distinctive. This is one of their most famous dishes, and although it is normally made with chicken, as here, lamb can be substituted. The dhals mentioned here are merely different forms of lentils; if you cannot obtain them all, the more common red or yellow lentils may be substituted.
Servings: 6
Calories: 547


  • 4 oz Tur dhal lentils
  • 1 oz Channa dhal lentils
  • 2 oz Masoor dhal lentils
  • 1 oz Moong dhal lentils
  • 1 1/2 pints Water
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 oz Ghee or clarified butter
  • piece Fresh root ginger peeled 2 1/2 cm (1 in) and finely chopped
  • 1 Garlic clove finely chopped
  • 8 Chicken pieces
  • 1 Tbs Chopped fresh mint
  • 1 Aubergine eggplant, cubed
  • 8 oz Pumpkin peeled and cubed
  • 4 oz Spinach chopped
  • 1 Large onion sliced
  • 14 oz Canned peeled tomatoes drained

for the masala

  • 2 oz Ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 Large onion sliced
  • piece Fresh root ginger 4 cm (1 1/2 in) peeled and sliced
  • 2 Green chillis finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves crushed
  • 1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp Ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Hot chilli powder
  • 3 Tbs Chopped coriander leaves


  • Wash all the dhals thoroughly and soak them for 30 minutes in cold water. Drain and transfer them to a large saucepan. Add the water and salt and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the ghee or clarified butter in a large frying-pan. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chicken pieces and fry until they are deeply and evenly browned. Transfer the mixture to the dhal.
  • Add the mint, aubergine (eggplant), pumpkin, spinach, onion and tomatoes. Increase the heat to high, stir to mix and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate. Puree the vegetables and dhal in a blender and set aside.
  • Rinse out and dry the saucepan. To make the masala, heat the ghee or clarified butter in the saucepan. Add the onion and fry until golden brown. Stir in the ginger, chillis and garlic and fry for 3 minutes. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, except the coriander leaves, and fry for 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Add a spoonful or two of water if the mixture becomes too dry. Pour the pureed vegetables and dhal mixture into the pan and stir well. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer the mixture for 20 minutes. Stir in the chicken pieces and simmer for a further 10 minutes, basting the chicken with the sauce.
  • Transfer the dhansak to a warmed serving dish, sprinkle over the coriander leaves and serve at once.
Calories: 547 kcal
Carbohydrates: 40 g
Protein: 42 g
Fat: 25g
Saturated Fat: 7 g
Trans Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 117 mg
Sodium: 1076 mg
Potassium: 1300 mg
Fiber: 17 g
Sugar: 9 g
Vitamin A: 5443 IU
Vitamin C: 26 mg
Calcium: 137 mg
Iron: 6 mg
Cuisine Indian
Ingredients Chicken
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