Dhansak recipe

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serves: 4
Skill: easy
Cost: cheap
Prep: 15 min
Cooking: 1 hr 45 min

This is a North Indian dish made with lamb and lentils. Often more than one variety of lentils is used but to keep it simple this recipe just has the one – red split lentils which and cook down to a lovely thick puree. This basic recipe work well with chicken too, use skinned chicken thigh fillets and simmer for only 45-50 mins.


  • 3 onions, peeled
  • 1 small green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2tsp freshly grated root ginger
  • 3tbsp vegetable oil
  • 900g shoulder of lamb, cut into chunks
  • 2tsp each ground turmeric, ground coriander and ground cumin
  • 200g red split lentils
  • 900ml vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Coriander leaves, to garnish


  • Roughly chop two of the onions and place in a food processor or blender with the chilli, garlic and ginger and 2tbsp water. Process to a thick paste.

  • Heat 2tbsp of the oil in a large flameproof casserole and fry the lamb, in batches, over a medium-high heat until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  • Add the onion paste to the pan and fry for about 10 mins until softened and golden brown. Stir in the spices and cook for 1-2 mins.

  • Return the lamb to the dish with the lentils and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then cover and simmer very gently for 1-1¼ hrs until the lamb is tender. Stir occasionally adding a little extra stock, if needed.

  • Thinly slice the remaining onion. Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion gently for 8-10 mins until soft and golden brown. Serve the curry topped with the fried onion and garnished with coriander leaves.

Top tip for making Dhansak

For a cooling raita to serve with this curry mix ½ grated cucumber, 2tbsp fresh chopped mint, a squeeze of lemon juice and 1tsp salt into 300ml natural yogurt.

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