Friday, February 4, 2011


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My earliest association with parsis was when I was in school in std vii. We had an english teacher Mrs Jaru Dinshaw -  a very unique personality. Tall, fair and classy - very modern for the times. We girls loved her pretty saris, her perfume and more importantly - her  love for literature. 

Her image still sits pretty in my childhood memories. She with her text book, and all of us huddled around her. The poems she recited, the dramas(Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night,...)  that we enacted and short stories explained by her have become a part of me. Like these lines that I think of each morning -

                          The woods are lovely dark and deep ,
                          But I have promises to keep,
                          And miles to go before I sleep,
                          And miles to go before I sleep. 

I love them all because of her.

The recipe for today is dedicated to this teacher of mine.  It is a bowl of piping hot lentil stew - Dhansaak. Every parsi family have their own version of it. Most of them will have meat. I got mine from the Suvir Saran's book - American Masala. This one is made with winter vegetables - squash, daikon and radishes.


For the spice blend  (Dhansaak Masala) -
1 inch piece of cinnamon
6 green cardamom pods
1tbsp coriander seeds
2tsp cumin seeds
1tsp fennel seeds
1tsp mustard seeds
1tsp turmeric
1/2tsp peppercorns
1/4tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4tsp whole cloves

For the herb paste - 
handful of cilantro
1 inch piece of ginger
1 green chilly
3 dried red chillies
2 garlic cloves

For the stew
1/4C red lentils  (You can use mixture of toor dal and red masoor dal but toor dal takes longer to cook)
1tsp cumin seeds
1/2 an onion sliced
5-6tbsp oil
1.5C (Any combination of radishes,daikon and butternut squash sliced)
water as required
salt to taste

How to :-
  • Pulse the ingredients for the herb paste and keep aside
  • Similarly finely powder the ingredients for the spice blend and set aside. This is the Dhansaak masala. You can use store-bought too.
  • Combine the cumin seeds and the oil in a pan and wait till cumin is brown.
  • Add the onions and saute till brown. Add salt in between. Do not skip this step. It might take a 5-6 mins but its worth it.
  • Then add 2tsp of the dhansaak masala and allow the oil to separate.
  • After about 1 min add the vegetables (radishes, daikon and squash. Saute on medium heat for 5-6 min till fragrant.
  • Then add the lentils and around 3-4C of water. Bring to a boil and cover, simmer for 30-35 mins.
  • Check back to see if the lentils are cooked. 
  • Meanwhile heat a 1tbsp of oil in another pan and add the herb paste. Saute for a minute or two till the raw smell of garlic leaves the mixture.
  • Once the lentils have cooked add the herb paste and 2tsp of the spice blend.  Check for salt and seasoning. 
  • Bring to a boil and serve hot with rice or rotis.

I served them alongside a vegetable root jumble (recipe in another post) with some rotis and rice. A very tasty meal. You might not need all of the dhansaak masala though. I made twice the give amount and saved some for later. 

Dhansaak is traditionally seved with brown dhansaak rice. I will make it next time may be. 
Have a great weekend !

1 comment:

Priya said...

I love this Parsi stew anytime, beautiful clicks..