Patience is key with this popular Parsi dish, even after slow cooking the curry, it tastes better on the second day.
By Kankana Saxena
The other day, as I marinated the chicken with salt, pepper and few other spices, I started wondering if I could prepare it differently than how I have been always eating. So I googled! At first, there were the common results that I tried and tasted numerous times and then, I read ‘Murg Dhansak’ – chicken cooked with lentils. That’s new and something I would have never thought of. After reading several recipes, the curiosity only doubled and my palate got tempted. So, I gave it a shot.
Dhansak is a popular Parsi dish, which is prepared with lentils (mostly red or yellow), vegetables and spices. The non-vegetarian version typical uses goat meat and the vegetarian version uses gourd or pumpkin. I decided to go with chicken.
Slow cooking is not really my thing, but with this specific curry, I didn’t have much of a choice. At the end, it was certainly worth the effort. There was the flavor, the texture and a comfort feeling. It was a hearty mouthful dish. And just like many other chicken curries, this too tasted a lot better next day. Allowing it to rest overnight gives it enough time to fuse the flavors, making it more robust.
- 1 lb chicken (bone or boneless, skinned and cut in bite size)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 4 green cardamoms, crushed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 dry red chilies
- 2 dry bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1 cup lentil of your choice (soaked overnight)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- fresh coriander, finely chopped for garnish
- Marinate the chicken pieces with salt, ginger, garlic, cumin powder and coriander powder. Let it rest for minimum five hours or preferably overnight.
- In a wok or deep saucepan, add 2 tablespoons oil, cinnamon sticks and crushed green cardamom. Let it infuse the oil for a few seconds. Now, add chopped onion, season with salt and allow it to cook until translucent. Next, drop the marinated chicken, add ½ teaspoon turmeric powder and give a stir. Allow it to cook at low heat for about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons oil in another deep saucepan and add dry chilies along with bay leaves. After a couple of seconds, drop the soaked lentil and season with salt. Add enough water to bring it to a boil and allow it to cook until it’s soft. It should take about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Once lentils are done, mash it partially with the back of the spoon and drop it to the pan containing chicken. Give it a good mix. Add garam masala powder and chili powder. Check for salt and add any, if required. Depending on how much gravy you want, add some water and let it cook for five more minutes.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.
Kankana Saxena shares culinary journey, travel stories and passion for photography in her blog 'Playful Cooking'. Her cooking style is mostly nutritional with little bit of indulgence here and there. She believes in the mantra 'homemade is happiness'! She is a native of India but currently resides in Santa Clara, California with her husband.