24 October 2009

Parsi Dhansak

Dhansak is a lentil-based meat delicacy which is a specialty of the Parsi community in India. Being from Bombay, Parsi cuisine is as integrated into our palette as "vada pav". Other delicacies include Salli Boti (a hot spicy mutton curry made with apricots and sprinkled with 'salli' or potato straws) and Patrani Machchi (fish steamed in banana leaves).

Recipe source: My grandmother's Parsi friend

1 onion, chopped
3/4 lb chicken breast/ or mutton (cut into bite-sized cubes)
4-5 tsp dhansak masala (you should be able to find this in most Indian spice stores)

For the dal:
1 1/2 cup toor dal
1/2 cup masoor dal
1/2 bunch methi (fenugreek) leaves
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
1 medium eggplant, chopped into medium pieces
1/2 small pumpkin, chopped small
1 small sweet potato, cut small

For the spice mix:
3 cardamoms
1 piece of cinnamon
4 cloves
3 tsp cumin seeds
3 red chillies
2 green chillies
3 cloves garlic

Cut the chicken into cubes and marinate with 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp red chilli powder. Set aside.

In a mixer, add all the ingredients of the spice mix and grind into a smooth paste, adding 2-3 tsp water.

In a pressure cooker, cook all the ingredients for the dal. I let it cook for 2 whistles. Once done, let the steam escape and when you open the cooker, use the back of a spoon to mash all the vegetables into a smooth paste. This should be fairly easy, since the vegetables tend to disintegrate into the dal.

In a deep pan, heat 2 tsp oil and when it is hot, add the onions. Let these brown for 5 minutes, and then add the spice mix. Let this cook for 3-4 minutes, and then add the dhansak masala. Let the spice mix cook for another 2-3 minutes. At this point, add the dal into the pan and mix well. Add 3 cups water (more if desired) and at this point, add the chicken into the dal. Let the dal and chicken boil on medium heat for 25 minutes.

Serve with rice and a chopped salad.

While this recipe is a little tedious, it is well worth the effort.

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