Chicken Dhansak

Chicken Dhansak
Dhansak recipe | Hint of Helen-2

Dhansak is an iconic dish from the Parsi community, reserved mostly for sunday dinners. It’s a dish associated with family gatherings and comfort - no wonder it’s also made it’s way it's way onto most Indian restaurant menus, and our hearts. 

Dhansak is the perfect combination of sweet and sour; influenced from both Persian and Gujarati cuisine. The sweetness of this dish comes from butternut squash; and sourness from lime juice and spices.

Dhansak is a dish which always tastes better the next day; make enough to have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day, and todays effort will be well worth it. 

Chicken Dhansak
  • Diced chicken
  • 2 tbsp garlic ginger paste
  • 1 tsp salt
Curry Paste
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 4 whole cardamons
  • 3 tomatos
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • handful coriander leaves
  1. Marinate the chicken by mixing diced chicken with garlic ginger paste and salt. Set aside in fridge until ready to use (30 mins minimum, but up to 8 hours or even overnight if you have the time)
  2. Mix the curry paste ingredients in a postal and mortar or blitz in a blender, until smooth
  3. Rinse your lentils until water runs clear
  4. Add washed lentils, butternut squash, tomato and water to a pan - bring to the boil and cook until butternut squash is soft enough to mash with a fork
  5. remove from the heat, drain, and crush any large peices of butternut squash with a fork until smooth. This part is up to your preference; if you’d rather have a chunky dhansak then leave larger chunks.
  6. Heat a large, non stick pan and add oil.
  7. Add onions and green chilli to the hot oil, stir until coated with oil and reduce the heat. Cook until onions are clear
  8. Add dry spice mix to the onion mixture, stir and cook until raw smell has disappeared. Add more oil (or water) here if the mixture is dry.
  9. Add pre-marinated chicken to the pan and stir to completely coat with the spice mix, cook until chicken gets some color
  10. Add the drained, crushed lentil and squash mixture to the pan, mix thoroughly
  11. Add 1 cup of water (or more/less depending on how much liquid you’d like in your end curry)
  12. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes
  13. Remove from the heat, top with chopped coriander, enjoy and serve!

Today I made garlic naan and Parsi rice to go alongside my Dhansak, but it goes really well with kachumber; and if i had red onions in the house, i'd have made some kachumber too.

How To Make Chicken Dhansak at Home:

  1. Marinate your chicken with garlic ginger paste, and salt. Then set aside in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes

Dhansak Chicken Marinate

2. Gather the rest of your ingredients whilst your chicken is marinating. 

Dhansak Ingredients | Hint of Helen

3. Crush and combine the dry spices by either using a pestal and mortar or blitzing in a blender.

Dhansak Spices | Hint of Helen

Dhansak Spices | Hint of Helen

4. Chop your onions, tomato, butternut squash and chilli. Rinse your lentils, drain, and set aside.

5. Add the washed lentil, chopped tomato, onion and butternut squash to a pan of water and bring to the boil. Cook until butternut squash is soft. 

6. Drain the lentil vegetable mix, and then crush the large chunks of butternut squash with a fork until mixture is smooth, set aside. 

7. Heat oil in a pan, then add onions and chilli. Fry until onions begin to go clear. 

8. Add dry spice mixture. 

9. Mix until combined; add more oil if the mixture is too dry. 

10. Add the earlier marinated chicken to the pan; mix and cook until chicken gets some colour. 


11. Add the lentils vegetable mixture to the pan, and stir so the spice mixture is completely combined. 

12. Add 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of lime juice to the mixture. Stir, and bring to a low simmer. 


13. Simmer the mixture for 15 minutes.

14. Serve with chopped coriander, enjoy! 


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