Mamta's Kitchen

Chicken Dhansak 1 - Traditional

Murg Dhanshak

Liza Tilley

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Dhansak is a popular Parsee/Parsi dish, each family has their own favourite recipe. This is my concoction, based on recipes I found while surfing the net. My family love it. Serves approx 6 as part of an Indian meal.


  • 2 skinless chicken breast fillets, cubed

  • Marinade ingredients for dry-roasting together:

  • 1 flat tsp. cumin or jeera seeds

  • 1 tsp. coriander or dhania seeds

  • 1/2 tsp. black mustard or rai seeds

  • 1 medium bay leaf or tej patta

  • 1 tsp. fennel or saunf seeds

  • 2 1/2 cm. or 1 inch cinnamon stick

  • 7 black peppercorns

  • 1/4 tsp. fenugreek or methi seeds

  • 1 dried red chilli

  • 3 green cardamom or choti illaichi

  • Other marinade ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. ginger crushed or grated

  • 1 tsp. crushed garlic

  • Water to make a paste

  • Ingredients for cooking Dhansak:

  • 200 gm. red lentil (skinless masoor dal) or arhar dhal/dal (tuvar dal or pigeon-peas)

  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into chunks

  • 1 carrot peeled and sliced up thick

  • 2-3 tbsp. oil

  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped fine

  • 1 tsp. crushed garlic

  • 1 full or round tsp. ground coriander powder

  • 1 full or round tsp. ground cumin seeds

  • 1 tbsp. coconut powder or desiccated coconut

  • 1 tsp. turmeric or haldi

  • 1 tbsp. kasthuri/kasoori (dry) methi leaves (optional)

  • 1 tsp. brown sugar only if needed to balance taste (carrots are

  • sweet!). Or use 1 small tin of pineapple rings in syrup (chopped fine)

  • To serve:

  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice

  • Black salt/kala namak or ordinary salt, to taste

  • 2 tbsp. green coriander leaves, chopped

  • 1 tsp. ginger crushed/grated


  1. Dry roast all the marinade ingredients together in a wok, allow to cool then grind to a fine powder.

  2. Add other marinade ingredients to the powder, i.e., salt, ginger, garlic and water and marinate the cubed chicken breasts with this mix for 1 hour.

  3. Wash and soak the dal for an hour or so.

  4. Place the dal in a pressure cooker, with 2 1/2 times the water, carrots, beans and potatoes, and cook on full pressure for 3-4 minutes/pressures, until fully cooked. The dhal texture should be smooth and thick, like custard. You can mash it to make it smooth, or leave as is, if you prefer some texture.

  5. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can boil it briskly in a pan until done. This may need more water. Red lentil cooks faster than arhar dal.

  6. Heat the oil in a pan and fry chicken until golden. Keep aside.

  7. In same pan, add onions and garlic and brown gently, until a rich golden brown.

  8. Add the remaining ingredients under ‘ingredients for cooking dhansak’(i.e. garlic, coriander, cumin, coconut turmeric, kasuri methi and bhoono/stir-fry well. Then add brown sugar or pineapple, whichever you prefer) and mix very well.

  9. Add this mix to the chicken and dhal and stir in.

  10. Sprinkle with coriander, ginger, lemon juice and kala namak and mix together well.

  11. Serve with Plain boiled rice.

  12. Also see Dal Selection.

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