Monday, August 25, 2008

Traditional Dhansakh


(Dhaan + Shak or Rice + Cooked Vegetables)
The name dhansakh implies rice eaten with the famous daal cooked with veggies in it. The rice is not plain white steamed rice but is a rich caramelized rice, cooked with a mix of whole spices. The daal of course is famous..

So here’s how the two are made-

For the rice-

Good quality Basmati rice, washed
whole spices- Bay leaves, cassia Bark, Cloves, pepper corns, Black cardamom (elcha), Star Anise, Javitri (mace)

In a pan make caramel with the sugar. About 1 tbsp of sugar for a cup of rice. Add a cup of water to the caramel moments before it burns. Take off the heat and keep aside. You want a liquid, not thick hard caramel.

Make rice as usual adding the caramel water and whole spices, salt (optional)and a tablespoon of oil or ghee. The rice should be brownish in colour.

Garnish with long fried onions.

The Daal

masoor daal
Tuvar daal
Red Pumpkin
Brinjals, small pink ones
spring onions
baby methi sprouts
Curry leaves
Dhansakh masala powder
Kairi Sambhar powder (not south Indian sambar masala) Available at Motilal masala, Grant rd, East, available under the Mangal brand.

Wash equal quantities of both daals, about a cup each. Add chopped pumpkin (200gm), brinjals (200gm), spring onions (1/2 bunch), one bunch methi sprouts, half a tsp of haldi, salt and pressure cook with enough water.
Once cooked, puree the whole thing.

In a kadai heat ghee and add the curry leaves and the masala powders, and fry. Add chopped tomatoes and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Smash up the tomatoes while cooking. Add the mashed daal puree to this and mix well. Add water if required. Let it come to a good rolling boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Traditionally dhansakh is made with mutton, though chicken is often used these days. To use either, marinate the meat in ginger-garlic paste, salt, and braise before pressure cooking along with the daals and veggies. (Remove before pureeing). Alternatively you can cook the meat separately and add to the cooked daal/veggie puree later. But the first way tastes far better!

Dhansakh is not a celebration dish, contrary to popular belief. Traditionally dhansakh is served on the fourth day after a funeral.
Of course, it is not restricted to such sombre occasions and is often on the menu for a family Sunday lunch :)


Dibs said...

Love Parsi food (thats is the vegetarian part of ot). I was looking for Dhansak, and here it is. Can you also share the traditional recipe for Dhansak powder mentioned in your recipe?

Rhea Mitra Dalal said...

Well we do not make the masala ourselves, we buy a brand called Mangal. It is excellent!

Miri said...

I ate this every week for about 6 months when I was a child and we had a family crisis. A dabba used to come home from a Parsi lady for those 6 months and I did not tire of this lovely dish!

notyet100 said...

recipe sounds..delicious...hve heard lot bout dhansakh,,,:-)

Rhea Mitra Dalal said...

traditional dhansakh masala recipes vary from family to family and are more closely guarded than the CIA files!!
My mother in-law's family has a 16 ingredient recipe that includes such novelties as naag-kesar. I take the easy way out and buy my masala :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Rhea,

I have been looking for an authentic recipe of Dhansak too, and really glad to find one here..
But, it would've been even better if you had posted a pic alongside the recipe (just so I know how the dish is finally supposed to look like !) :-)

Anonymous said...

I've never had dhansakh. What's the best place to eat it in Mumbai?

Rhea Mitra Dalal said...

Dhansakh is available at many "parsi' outlets, mainly in South Mumabi- Fort, Colaba, Ballard Pier areas. Notable places are Cafe Ideal in Fort, Britannia at B Pier, Mocambo Cafe at PM road, possibly at Paradise, Colaba also.
You can also order from the various Parsi caterers, most will take party orders for home delivery.

Ansh said...

wonderful recipe rhea! Loved it

Purna Chwodhury said...

Love this!