Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Truth about Dhansakh

More often than not the first dish that comes to most peoples' minds when Parsi food is discussed, is Dhansakh. 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 Dhansakh first when they want to sample Parsi food.

It is quite natural that they are taken aback when they learn that Dhansakh is NEVER served at festive or auspicious occasions. Dhansakh 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 Dhansakh. Dhansakh is served with caramelised browned rice topped with birista (golden crisp fried onions), Parsi style deep fried largeish kababs, and kachubar making it a full meal, nutritious from the vegetables, lentils, and meat cooked together, accompanied by carbs, fresh kachubar and limes (vitamin C), and additional fat and protein in the kababs. The mourning period is full of grief and one tends to neglect one's basic physical need for proper nutrition. Dhansakh makes for an all round filling and nutritious meal, and it's delicious, thus soothing the grieving mind too, and gently nudging one back to regular life and responsibilities. 

Today the funeral rituals for my father in law ended and the family and close friends gathered for lunch. We had the traditional Mutton Dhansakh with brown rice, mutton kheema kebabs, and kachubar.

You can make Dhansakh 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, Dhansakh is the star of many Sunday meals accompanied by beer or shandy (beer with Duke's Lemonade)

14 December
Marathon Bloggers 


Me! In words said...

My condolences to you and the family Rhea. I was introduced to Dhanshak by a Parsi childhood friend who lived just one house away from us. It was in fact a Sunday special at her place. It so happened that after a while, she would come to my place for the Mangalore Pork Sunday special and I would exchange places with her for Dhansak. Somehow never got around to making it myself. Will definitely give your recipe a shot.

Kalyan Karmakar said...

I love dhansak but it's just not the same after my father in law passed away. just wrote on this and am linking your post there. take care...Kalyan