Dhansak (heat 2/10)

Dhansak (heat 2/10)
Serves: 4-6

Everyone loves a Dhansak, and our version is healthy as well as tangy and tasty! This Parsee curry is very mild as it stands, so do add those optional chillies. If you enjoy a curry-house Dhansak see below for advice. Also take a look at our Malabar curry recipe which uses these spices but is a slow-cooked dry lamb curry. (40g net)   NB contains mustard


  • 1 packet Dhansak curry mix (recipe card included)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 700g/1.5lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces or slices
  • 300ml/1/2 pint ‘secret sauce
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, plus half can water
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 120g/4oz red lentils (pre-cooked weight), cooked
  • 1 large potato, peeled, diced into 2cm cubes & cooked until just ready to eat
  • 2 big double handfuls fresh spinach, shredded
  • 4-5 fresh green chillies, chopped (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and stir in the spices for a minute or two.
  2. Add the 'secret sauce', the tomatoes and water and bring to the boil. Add the lentils and simmer for an hour, adding the chillies at this stage if using. If the mixture seems too thick add a little more water.
  3. When you are ready to eat add the potato and chicken pieces and cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the lemon juice to taste, then stir in the spinach and cook until wilted.
  5. Serve immediately with rice or flatbread.

Cook's Notes

  1. Other vegetables are equally good. Try half a cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces, par-boiled and added with the chicken. Or chop an aubergine into small chunks and cook for about 20 minutes in the sauce before the chicken goes in.
  2. For the hotter, sweeter Bengali version you might find in your local restaurant, add some chopped fresh chillies and about 100ml pineapple juice (to taste) at stage 3. 
  3. If you want a vegetarian recipe use all the vegetables together and omit the chicken (obviously!).
  4. Some Dhansak recipes have a mixture of pulses, so you can try mung beans or big green lentils or a combination of any of them.

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