Chicken Dhansak

30 June 2020 By

An ideal high protein dish that makes a great mid-week meal for the whole family to enjoy.

Have some flat Turkish breads ready to mop up the hearty rich gravy and a zesty tomato kochumber salad.

While my recipe seems like a lot of ingredients I would encourage you to make double or triple quantities of the Dhansak Masala Dry Spice Mix and store the balance for later in an airtight container in your pantry. Likewise too for the wet paste – just make double or triple and freeze in containers. You can also use the Dhansak spice mix to make Lamb Dhansak or Lamb Shank Dhansak.

Ingredients − Serves 4

Chicken Dhansak

  • 8 chicken drumsticks (knuckle removed) – lovely legs
  • Oil
  • 2 medium brown onions, finely chopped
  • 5 cm cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 star anise
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 3 cups water or stock

Lentil Mixture

  • A few slices onion
  • 1 green chilli
  • ½ tsp ginger paste
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ cumin seeds
  • ½ cup split red Masoor lentils
  • ½ cup split mung beans
  • Pinch of chilli powder
  • Pinch of asafoetida powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 200 g sweet potato chunks
  • 150 g eggplant chunks
  • 3 cups chicken stock

Wet Paste – blend together

Dhansak Masala Dry Spice Mix

  • 6 whole green cardamoms
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 mace
  • 1 tbsp dry kasoori methi leaves (fenugreek leaves)

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  1. Pre-heat a fry pan. Add the Dhansak Masala dry spice mix ingredients, one at a time and toast until aromatic being careful not to burn the delicate nutmeg, mace and methi leaves. Cool spices, before grinding to a fine powder in a spice or coffee grinder.
  2. Blend together all the ingredients for the wet paste and set aside.
  3. Put all the ingredients for the lentil mixture in a deep pot with 3 cups stock and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the whole mixture is overcooked. Uncover and mash lentils with a wooden spoon to get a semi-smooth texture.
  4. While the lentils are cooking, heat oil until hot in a deep casserole pot. Add cinnamon, bay leaves and star anise and fry until fragrant. Then add the two chopped onions, a good pinch of salt and cook on medium, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelised, approx. 15 minutes.
  5. Add the blended wet paste mixture and finely ground dry spice mix and cook for another 10 minutes stirring regularly.
  6. Then add chicken drumsticks and fry until they are brown all over and well coated in the masala. Add 3 cups water or stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes covered, until cooked through. Remove lid, turn the heat to medium then stir through the diced tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes until juices have reduced.
  7. Now add the cooked mashed lentils into the chicken pot carefully and gently heat through. Stir in lemon juice and adjust salt to taste.
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving immediately with rice, flat breads and tomato kochumber.