Chicken Dhansak

This is an absolute classic Indian dish….and well worth all of the effort – no lie, there is lots to do in this recipe.  It will take a good 90 plus minutes to cook this, plus extra for food prep.  Worth getting a spice grinder or a coffee bean grinder to make sure your spices are finely ground.



3-4        Chicken breasts, de-skinned, and cut into 1 inch cubes

2-3cm  Fresh ginger, peeled

6           Garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp     Salt

1 tsp     Coriander seeds

1 tsp     Cumin seeds

1 tsp     Fennel seeds

4            Green cardamons

4-5cm   Cinnamon bark, broken in pieces

6            Dried red chilies

10          Black peppercorns

2            Bay leaves

1/4 tsp  Fenugreek seeds

1/2 tsp  Black mustard seeds

75ml     Water

2 tbs      Vegetable oil

75g        Green lentils

75g         Red lentils

120ml    Water

5 tbs       Vegetable oil

2             Onions, finely sliced

1 tsp       Tumeric

1 tsp       Garam Masala

500ml    Water

1 tsp       Tamarind paste

1 tbs       Fresh coriander leaves, chopped



Lots of stuff to do, so lets get started.  Firstly make some ginger-garlic paste by using a pestle and mortar or a grinder to combine the garlic, ginger and salt into a fine paste.

Next add all of the dry spices into a grinder (or coffee bean grinder) and blitz into a fine powder.   This should include coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, green cardamons, cinnamon bark, dried red chilies, black peppercorns, bay leaves, fenugreek seeds and black mustard seeds.  Add the water to make a paste with the spices.  Place the chicken cubes into a bowl, and cover with the spice paste mix, ensuring all the chicken is coated.  Leave covered in the fridge for atleast an hour, or ideally over night.

When you are ready to cook, heat the oil in a large frying pan / wok, and cook the chicken in paste over a medium heat for 5 minutes.  Next, add the 120 ml water, turn down the heat, cover and gently cook for a further 20 minutes.  After that, turn out the heat and leave whilst you cook the lentils.

In a fresh frying pan, heat some oil over a medium heat and cook the sliced onions for 10-12 minutes until nicely browned.  Now add the garam masala and tumeric, and cook for a further 1 minute.  Add the 500 ml water to the pan, bring to the boil, and cook slowly for a further 30 minutes.  The lentils should be soft enough to squash – so using the back of a spoon, squash about half the lentils to make a thick sauce.

Now add the lentils back into the chicken spice mixture, combine, and bring back to a gentle simmer – co0king for a further 30 minutes.  Season with salt, and finally add the tamarind paste and stir well.

Serve with boiled rice, and sprinkle with the chopped fresh coriander.