Sunday, May 08, 2016

A Dhansak My Bawa Loves

Today I share here a Dhansak recipe I make in my style and my bawa husband polishes off heartily. The three dal combo is just so delicious. Dhansak is traditionally made with meat but I am posting the veg version here. Especially for those friends who are vegetarian and have been requesting for it. 

Usually I add the chicken to the pressure cooker itself when I am making the dhansak for just my Bawa after removing the cooked dal and veggies for me. Cook it further for 1 whistle. That is just to tell you how to make it non-veg if you want a meaty version. I haven't yet made mutton dhansak. My husband's theory is not to slaughter animals but no harm in eating frozen meat. So we buy only frozen chicken. Go figure !

How is my dhansak better? I add the micro methi greens at the final stage just before pureeing and homogenizing the dal and that adds an amazing freshness to the dhansak. 

Traditionally dhansak can have brinjal, tomatoes, carrots or any vegetable in your fridge that you want to use up. Like my archaeologist Parsi friend Kurush advised, add all and any veggies in the dhansak and feed to the veggie averse husband. He will eat it as long as it is hidden in the dhansak. When he said that I was already using that strategy on my unsuspecting husband as do Parsi Mummas and brides.

A few months before I got married I was living in with my Bawa as we wanted to crease out anything that might cause hiccups in the marriage. At the time he fell severely ill. He craved for foods from his childhood. Even before marriage I suddenly was in a wife's role nursing him back to health. So early on I realized there was no escaping the dhansak. I bought 4 of Katy Dalal's cookbooks, Jamva Chaloji both part 1 and 2 plus Vitality and Seafood Fiesta. They were very helpful for me a non-Parsi to learn Parsi cooking in the absence of Mummy, my MIL. 

Soon I was to realize that recipe books are excellent to start but tastes one grows up on are such indelible memories. My husband is a much pampered son and extremely finicky about food. I have managed to figure out only a week's menu that he has approved of and I keep repeating week after week now. 

One of the smart things I did was to make a dhansak masala in those pre-marriage days and started cooking for A and stopped the Bhonu tiffin that came from the caterer. The dhansak masala was perfected in the last 6 months. Finally its something I use in my daily cooking post marriage in the few pulses my husband eats without fussing. I have relatives and friends who love my dhansak masala. I have slipped it into their bags when they visited and asked them to try it. So it is not just my Bawa approved but I can say Parsi approved. It's up on the E-shop. Besides the Dhansak masala there is a Garam masala specific to this community which is used for meats and veggies too. Look for the Parsi Garam Masala on the Eshop.

The components of my Dhansak are... KoLu (Pumpkin) - bhaaji (methi microgreens). You can go all the nine yards with the veggies.


1/2 cup toor dal
1/4 cup masoor dal
1/4 cup moong dal
a small piece pumpkin
2 bunches methi microgreens
1 tablespoon fried onions / Birista (I make large quantities and freeze it in an airtight box.)
1/2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon Dhansak masala (click to buy)
1/4 teaspoon  Parsi Garam Masala (click to buy)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoon oil
salt to taste

Wash and soak all the dals for 1/2 hour in the pressure cooker vessel.

Add the chopped pumpkin, birista and all the masalas. The ginger garlic paste. Top up with water to cover the dals. Drizzle the oil, add salt. Mix well. Cook for 3 whistles in the pressure cooker.

Open the cooker after cooling completely. Homogenize and puree the dals n pumpkin. Now add the cleaned washed and finely chopped micro methi greens. Mix well. This is the technique that makes my dhansak stand out. It is what brings freshness to the pureed dal.

Parsis enjoy their dhansak with brown rice and Kachumbar, a simple salad of chopped cucumber, tomato and onion with a squeeze of lime.

Before I close this post let me just clarify that Dhansak means Rice (Dhan) with veggies (sak or shaak). Which means I cannot part without giving you the recipe of Brown Rice. Here Brown rice does not mean unpolished but caramel laced rice therefore the tinge of brown.

I am giving the recipe of the brown rice I make at my home as per my husbands preference. I do not caramelize sugar to get a dark brown color but a just creamish brown does it for him.

Dhan or Brown rice


1 cup Basmati rice
2 teaspoons fried onions/ birista

Wash and drain the basmati rice. Leave it for 30 mins. In a vessel measure out 1.5 cups water and bring it to a boil. Add the washed Basmati rice to the boiling water. Cook until rice it cooked yet separate. Fluff up with a fork.

Serve as plated here.

I make Dhansak atleast once a week and on days when we worship the people who have passed on to the other world. Yes Dhansak is never made on an auspicious day. It is a remembrance meal and so its no fuss and easy to make not really elaborate yet complete with rice, veggies and meat. Very comforting indeed.

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