More often than not the first dish that comes to most peoples' minds when Parsi food is discussed, is Dhansaakh. This delicious medley of lentils, vegetables and mutton served with a lightly caramelised rice and spicy mutton kebabs is very well known and it is no surprise that most non Parsis think of Dhansaakh first when they want to sample Parsi food.
It is quite natural that they are taken aback when they learn that Dhansaakh is NEVER served at festive or auspicious occasions. Dhansaakh is associated with funerals and death and therefore never stars on festive menus. No matter how delicious this dish is, it is not for celebrations.
The Parsi funereal rituals are spread over a short four day period and during this time food is restricted to mainly vegetarian fare that can include eggs and fish. No red meat or chicken is permitted. At the end of the rituals and ceremonies the mourning family makes its transition back to normal daily life with a fortifying and hearty meal that is rich in proteins and other nutrients - namely Dhansaakh.
Today the funeral rituals for my father in law ended and the family and close friends gathered for lunch. We had the traditional Mutton Dhansaakh with brown rice, mutton kheema kebabs, and kachubar.
You can make Dhansaakh at home and enjoy it as a hearty Sunday lunch at home with your family, as many Parsis do. Here's the recipe.
No, it's not just a funeral food - too delicious and comforting to be restricted to funerals, Dhansaakh is the star of many Sunday meals accompanied by beer or shandy (beer with Duke's Lemonade)