Do re mee... Veera's 'Chicken Dhansak' from Scratch recipe

Ideal Corner's Dhansak 

I often get queries on Parsi food recipes. People assume that K would be cooking a storm in the kitchen doling out dhansak, sali boti, patrani machhi and so on. Well what comes out of our kitchen is Bengali, Italian, Oriental, occasionally Goan or Coastal but almost never Parsi. Except when we microwave stuff that we have bought from outside. Which, if you read the book 'Mixed Marriages', is a very authentic Parsi tradition. There was one short story there where a big part was devoted to how Parsis don't like to cook at home and depend on dabbas from caterers for food. For the record, food is cooked regularly at my various (parents, uncle, aunts) in laws place . They are Parsis. So hope the BPP doesn't take away my pulao daal rights for this. By the way K does make one Parsi Dish. It is called sali par eendu (egg on potato straws). Great stuff.

I was stumped when Pree from Toronto asked me for the recipe of Dhansak last night. I had put up Mamma's (K's granny's) dhansak recipe earlier on the blog. There was a catch to that. It involved the use of ready made dhansak masala which I understand might not be easily available worldwide.

That's when I tapped another Parsi diva, my friend Veera, who lives at Muscat now. Veera had treated me to one of my first dhansaks when I was a hungry immigrant new to Mumbai. Manna for a PG'ite. She obviously doesn't get dhansak masala at Muscat. But even she warns that you need at least one core masala, Parsi Sambaar masala (not the South Indian one). Still, see if this works for you. This is Veera's Dhansak recipe in her very own words:

Chicken Dhansak
(For 4 people)

The Dal

6-8 handfuls of Tuvar (toor) dal – soak for about 2 hours

1 Potato/Onion/tomato/pumpkin (small pieces)

Methi Bhaji small one if available ( I make do without)

2 spoons salt

Ginger garlic paste

Wash the soaked dal, add all the above ingredients and water and pressure cook.

The Chicken

Put the pieces of chicken with some ginger garlic paste, jeera, one potato sliced, one tomato (quartered) and salt. Add water, pressure cook.

The Vaghar/Tadka (spice mix)


5 cloves of garlic finely chopped


Chilli paste both green and red ( About one teaspoon each)

1 spoon Dhana jeera (cumin) powder

1 spoon Parsi Sambhar (essential, especially if you don’t have dhansak powder) – not to be confused with normal sambhar powder....its more like the pickle poweder....

¼ spoon garam masala powder

1 small lump of jaggery


Once the dal is ready, strain it (Don’t remove the veggies) until it is smooth and thick. Make the vaghar (spice mix) and add the dal to the vaghar and boil. Add the chicken with a little of the soup/ stock, (not the veggies), gives the dal extra flavour and makes it nice and thick (while boiling)....for more spice/sweetness, add jaggery/sambhar powder if necessary.

The Rice:

Fry one onion till brown, add jeera (cumin).

Make normal rice, but add the onion and jeera tadka...also whole spices like cloves, pepper, small bits of cinnamon sticks.

Make a nice cachumber (salad chopped cucumber, tomato and onion with coriander and lime juice) with lemon, add to the dhansak and eat.

Best had after a nice drink and before a long snooze


Unknown said…
Thanks Veera and Finely Chopped of course for this recipe. I don't think I am going to get that Parsi sambar masala or Dhansak masala here. Maybe I will just omit that bit out and see how I score on the Dhansak. I had made it long time ago from the recipe notes my Mum had. But do not remember much. I will probably use goat meat for your recipe.