Chicken Cooked with Lentils and Vegetables (Dhansak)
From the fantastic Indian cookbook "The Great Curries of India" by Camellia Panjabi.
This recipe does use a number of hard-to-find ingredients (unless you
live near an Indian store, or want to ask me to mail you stuff!) and
it also takes a long time, like a couple hours (although it is simple to
prepare.) However, it is wonderful. I made this for the notoriously
fussy eaters at La Selva and it was universally popular.
Use 1/2 the number of green chile peppers and 1/2 the amount of cayenne, unless
you like (quite) hot & spicy.
- 3 lb. chicken, cut into 6 or more pieces
- 10 oz. ( 1 1/2 c.) toor dal (substitute lentils if you can't find this)
- 2 oz. tamarind pulp
- 2 in. square piece of fresh ginger, peeled
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 7 oz. red pumpkin, chopped (or squash)
- 5 oz. eggplants, chopped
- 1 potato, chopped
- 1/4 c. fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves
- 20 leaves fresh mint
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/2 bunch fenugreek leaves or 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) (substitute parsley)
- 3 teaspoons sambar masala (see below for substitution)
- 2 teaspoons dhansak masala (see below for substitution)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 3 teaspoons coriander powder
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 3 medium Romano tomatoes, chopped
- 6 green chiles (serano if you can find them), chopped
- 1 tablespoon jaggery or palm sugar (substitute ordinary sugar)
- juice of 1 lime
- For sambar masala, substitute 3/4 teaspoon fenugreek powder, 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder, 1 teaspoon red cayenne powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper.
- For Dhansak masala, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala and 1/4 teaspoon star anise powder and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder.
- Make a chicken stock with the bones, neck, giblets and trimmings. (Or just use chicken stock. -ed.)
- Wash the toor dal (lentils) and soak in water for 30 minutes. Soak the tamarind in 1 cup water for at least 30 minutes.
- Chop 1 1/2 inch piece of the ginger and 4 of the garlic cloves.
- In a large cooking pot, put the dal (lentils) to cook in 3 cups water (I use a lot more water than this -ed.) along with the onions, pumpkin, eggplants, potato and dill. Add the tumeric, whole remaining piece of ginger, remaining 2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of the coriander leaves and 8 of the mint leaves. Simmer until the dal (lentils) are very soft. Allow to cool slightly. Puree in blender or food processor. Season with 1 teaspoon salt.
- While the dal (lentils) is cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the chopped ginger, garlic, 1 cup cilantro leaves, 12 mint leaves, fenugreek, sambar masala, dhansak masala, cumin and coridander powders, cayenne, tomatoes and green chiles and fry for 2 minutes, stirring continously. (I probably saute all this for 10 minutes -ed.) Add the chicken and saute for 2 minutes. (Again, you can saute longer, like 10 minutes -ed.) Season with 1 teaspoon salt and stir well.
- Add the chicken to the dal (lentil and vegetable mixture) with 3 cups chicken stock or water. Add the jaggery (sugar.) Simmer until the chicken is cooked through before adding the tamarind water and lime juice; adjust for salt, then simmer for a couple minutes. It is now ready to serve. Serve with rice and raita.
Last modified: May 27, 2005