Chicken Dhansak

by Hint of Helen
Chicken Dhansak Recipe

Chicken Dhansak curry is one of my favorite dinners to make at home. This is the British Indian restaurant style of dish – so it is sweetened with pineapple juice and zesty freshness comes from the juice of a lemon. The sauce is made up of red lentils and tinned tomatoes – so there’s heaps of flavour and nutrition in this dish, too!

Chicken Dhansak Recipe

Many describe a (restaurant-style) dhansak as an Indian sweet & sour.

I’ve made this recipe simple to follow and quick(er) to make, without the need of a base sauce or any difficult to find ingredients. You’ll need to cook the lentils in a separate saucepan to allow them to cook down until very soft, they then work so well at bringing a thick, creaminess to the pineapple tomato sauce.

This dhansak is perfect served with naan bread, homemade bhajis and rice for a lovely homemade ‘takeaway’ style dinner. You can make it as spicy or mild as you like by adjusting the chilli you add-in.

Chicken Dhansak Recipe

How to make chicken Dhansak at home

Scroll down for recipe card and ingredient list

1.Start by rinsing the lentils, until the water runs clear. Then add to a saucepan and cover with water – bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes or until soft, then drain off liquid and set aside for use in the curry.

Cooking Lentils

2.Whilst your lentils are cooking – begin by chopping the onion into bite-sized pieces

chopped onions

3. Then add oil to a deep-sided pan or wok, to medium heat

oil in pan

4. Add in the onion, stir and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often – until they begin to brown, like this:

cooking onions

5. Then, add in the chopped chicken thighs

chicken thighs

6. And add in the grated ginger, and garlic


7. Stir and continue to cook on medium-high heat for 7 minutes, stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick at all

browned chicken

8. Then, sprinkle on the curry powder and chilli powder

chilli curry chicken

9. And immediately stir so the chicken is coated in the seasoning, cook for 2 minutes

chilli chicken

10. Then, add in the tomato puree, water, sugar and pineapple juice

dhansak ingredients

11. Stir to combine, then add in the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil – cook for 10 minutes

Dhansak cooking

12. Next, add in the earlier cooked, drained lentils – cook this on a low simmer for 5 minutes

lentils in dhansak

13. Then, it’s ready! Simply stir through a handful of coriander (torn apart)

14. Taste and season with salt before serving with rice or naan

final dhansak
Yield: 4 Servings

Chicken Dhansak

Chicken Dhansak Recipe

A delicious, sweet and sour chicken dhansak recipe. Indian spiced curry flavoured with pineapple and lemon for an unusual dish the whole family can enjoy!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 thumb ginger
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp curry powder (madras curry powder if you have it)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 green chilli (optional)
  • 100ml pineapple juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1x 400ml chopped tomatoes
  • 200g split red lentils
  • To Serve (Optional)
  • Fresh coriander


    1. Rinse your lentils in cold water, until the water runs clear
    2. Add the rinsed lentils into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil - boil the lentils until soft (about 25 minutes), skim off any scum from the top of the water during cooking. Once cooked, drain away the water, and set aside for use in the curry
    3. Whilst the lentils cook, slice your chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces
    4. Crush the garlic cloves, peel and grate the ginger
    5. Heat the oil in a large wok or similar pan with deep sides but large surface area
    6. Add the chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until starting to turn brown
    7. Then, add in the chicken thighs, garlic, and ginger - stir
    8. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring often, to brown the chicken
    9. Add in the sliced green chilli (if using)
    10. Then, add in the curry powder and chili powder, stir to coat the chicken and cook for a further minute
    11. Then, add in the tomato puree, salt, lemon juice and pineapple juice
    12. Stir to mix everything together then add in the tinned tomatoes
    13. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes
    14. Then, add in the previously cooked and drained lentils, stir and cook for a final 5 minutes
    15. Then, it's ready! Turn off the heat, and generously add coriander leaves - stir to combine then serve with naans and rice!

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 463Saturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gSodium 1018mgCarbohydrates 25gFiber 5gSugar 6gProtein 69g

Nutritional data provided here is only an estimate. If you're tracking these things for medical purposes please consult an outside, trusted source. Thanks!

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