dhansak recipe | veg dhansak

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Parsi veg dhansak recipe with step by step photos – I know many folks who love Dhansak. The first time I had Dhansak in my home science days and I must say that I loved it.

dhansak recipe

Dhansak is a traditional parsi recipe Usually served with brown rice. It is a medley of lentils, vegetables, spices and meat.

Being a vegetarian I cannot include meat, so have just made it with lentils, veggies and the spices. I know very very little about parsi food. I have been even to parsi weddings, but never had any of the parsi delicacies because all of them were non vegetarian.

Recently I got a request to post some parsi vegetarian recipes and this is the first one in this series. Besides dhansak, the other parsi recipes that I am familiar with are Brown rice, Dhan dar, patrani ni machchi (fish cooked in banana leaves) lagan nu custard (wedding custard). See… I already told you I know very very little.

I referred to five sources for the dhansak recipe, three cookbooks and two cyclostyled recipe sheets. One of mine and the other given to me by a friend.

I settled down for the recipe sheet given by the friend as it did not ask me for a readymade dhansak masala… Plus it was a totally Vegetarian dhansak recipe. I have adapted the recipe by not adding clove powder and instead using extra cloves while making the dhansak masala paste.

dhansak recipe

And the result was too good… A comforting, warm, spicy and nutritious Dhansak. the actual recipe involves adding veggies like aubergines and pumpkin. I did not have both, so I added an extra of bottle gourd/lauki. With the remaining of the lauki, I made lauki halwa.

Tips for making dhansak

  • I strongly suggest you to add pumpkin. It gives a remarkable flavor and taste to the dhansak. If possible then add all the veggies – aubergines, pumpkin and bottle gourd to get an authentic taste.
  • Also instead of adding five different lentils, I added 3 lentils. You could also just add one type of lentil, namely arhar dal/pigeon pea lentils or masoor dal/pink lentils.
  • Another important ingredient in dhansak is fenugreek leaves/methi. You could either use fresh or dry fenugreek leaves. I did not have fresh fenugreek leaves. So I added kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves.

parsi dhansak

How to make Dhansak

1. In a pressure cooker, take all your veggies, tomatoes, lentils and fenugreek. Add water and pressure cook for 5-6 minutes. I also added a few scallions.

parsi dhansak recipe

2. Below you see all the ingredients for the dhansak masala paste.

ingredients for dhansak

3. Take all of these in a grinder and with some water grind to a smooth paste. The freshness and aroma of this masala paste is wonderful.

masala paste for dhansak

4. Now that the veggies and lentils are cooked.

cooking veggies for veg dhansak

5. Through a strainer or sieve pass the lentils and veggies and mash with the back of a spoon while doing so.

veg dhansak recipe

6. There should be lumps at all. If using a fine strainer like the one I have, then the mashed veggies won’t be able to pass through it. So mash the veggies with a wooden spoon and then add it to the strained mixture.

dhansak parsi

7. I went for a smooth mixture, but if you want you can keep some texture by not mashing the veggies smoothly.


8. Now heat ghee. Add onions and saute them. I used the same pressure cooker. Did not want additional pans for washing 🙂


9. Add the dhansak masala paste and saute till the raw aroma goes away.


10. Add the strained and mashed lentils and veggie mixture to the masala paste. Simmer for some minutes.


11. Finally add the tamarind juice and simmer for some more minutes. If you look very carefully you will see the dark tamarind juice color almost off the center on the right hand side.

dhansak recipe

Serve the Dhansak, hot with brown rice. or You can also have it like a soup with some warm toasted bread or garlic bread. It also tastes awesome both with rice and bread.

dhansak with brown rice
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Dhansak Recipe

4.82 from 11 votes
Dhansak is a vegetable and lentil preparation. Its a traditional parsi lentil recipe.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 50 mins

Cuisine Parsi
Course: Main Course

Servings 5 to 6


for the dhansak - lentils and veggies

  • 1 cup arhar dal (tuvar dal or pigeon pea lentils)
  • ¼ cup moong dal (green gram lentils)
  • ¼ cup masoor dal (pink lentils)
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 4 to 5 medium sized tomatoes - chopped (optional)
  • 2 medium size potatoes - chopped
  • 2 to 3 medium-size eggplant (baingan) + 1 cup chopped pumpkin + 1 cup chopped bottle gourd (lauki)
  • 4 tablespoon fresh fenugreek leaves or 1 tablespoon dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
  • 3 to 4 teaspoon tamarind pulp
  • 2 to 3 tablespoon ghee
  • 4 cups water
  • salt to taste

for the dhansak masala

  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1.5 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large cinnamon of 2 inches or 2 to 3 smaller sized cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 to 2 dry red chilies or ½ tablespoon red chili powder
  • 8 to 9 cloves
  • 2 green chilies


Preparing the lentils and veggies

  • Pick and rinse the lentils.
  • Mix all the chopped veggies, tomatoes and lentils together in a pressure cooker.
  • Add 4 cups water and pressure cook the dals and veggies till they are done.
  • Strain the dals and veggie mixture through a strainer.

Preparing the dhansak masala

  • Grind all the ingredients for the masala with some water to a fine paste.
  • Keep the paste aside.

Making the tamarind pulp

  • Take a small marble sized tamarind and soak it in 2-3 tbsp warm water for 20-30 minutes.
  • When the tamarind becomes soft, your pulp is ready. Also squeeze the tamarind with your palm and extract the juices in the same bowl.

Making Dhansak

  • Heat ghee in a pan.
  • Add chopped onions and saute them till they become transparent.
  • Add the ground dhansak masala and saute it for 3-4 minutes.
  • Now add the lentils and veggie mixture.
  • Simmer for a 5-6 minutes and then add the tamarind pulp.
  • For a slightly thinner consistency, you can add some hot water.
  • Simmer for some 5 minutes or more till the raw aroma and taste of the tamarind goes away.
  • Serve the dhansak hot with brown rice.

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Dassana Amit

Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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  1. It turned out perfect! I hand blended the veggies after pressure cooking. In love with this dish. Would love to know the nutritional content 🙂5 stars

    1. Thanks a lot Janhavi for the feedback and the rating. I will update the recipe with the nutritional data.

  2. This recipe is yummm. Loved it. With the brown rice it became a little heavy maybe coz of the oil. I think the dhansak would taste good even with normal boiled rice. Thank you for sharing a different cuisine recipe.5 stars

    1. thanks a lot harry for this lovely feedback. dhansak tastes good even with regular steamed rice.

  3. i tried this today and it turned out awesome.. Thanks for sharing simple and different recipes. It has “hatke” taste, loved it.
    Rupali4 stars

    1. tomatoes can be added in the recipe. i did not add while taking pics, as i did not have them. i will update in the post more clearly.

  4. Vandana which book is the extracted recipe from dear? Its a bit different form my recipe (doesn’t have elaichis , star anise) and Im keen to experiment with your recipe, thanks!

    1. this is from home science recipe handout from one of my friend. its not from any book.

  5. Btw it turned out very nice. The tomatoes were not needed. It tastes much like Sambhar. Or maybe I’m confused.

    1. thanks amby. it does not taste like sambar. but it taste good. tomatoes are not essential.

  6. hello, it’s me again. I have been following Tarladalal for a long number of years . I happen to see Vikas kanna showing dhansak with chicken and I searched and found it in your site. So thrilled and the lunch today was this with exactly what you had given with brown rice. It was a real treat without exaggeration. Thank you once again. God bless you. DK1 star

    1. heloo dk ji and thanks again. this dhansak is also our family favorite and i make it on occasions. glad to know you loved the dhansak with brown rice 🙂

    2. What are the tomatoes for? I see them in the list of ingredients but it is not used anywhere..

  7. Hi Dasanna, tried this recipe and it is simply awesome!! So very nutritious with dal and veggies together. We enjoyed it with plain rice….thanks .

  8. Hi Dassana
    i am not a kitchen person . Infarct I dread that area. I along with my daughter had danshak at her teacher’s place. Ever since she has been after my life to give it a shot. That’s how i reached your recipe on the net. Its so wonderfully explained that i find myself tempted to try it. Will sure do and let you know the result.5 stars

    1. thanks vandana. go ahead and try this dhansak recipe. its a tried and tested recipe. i am sure, if you follow the steps correctly then the recipe will not disappoint your daughter.

  9. I had tried this recipe out today and the dhansak dhal was excellent.I would like to suggest that everyone use yellow mustard in the dhansak mix.It is imparting a greater depth in flavour.I had served it with sweet rice as suggested by michelin star chef Vikas Khanna but unfortunately it didnt pair well with the dhal.Normal basmati rice goes just fine with it.Thank you so much for sharing these recipes ma’am! 🙂

    1. thanks sanjay. also thanks for sharing the tip on yellow mustard. dhansak goes best with brown rice or steamed rice. it would not go well with sweet rice 🙂

  10. Dear Madam,

    You are really great. I am a Keralite brought up in Gujarat. I want to taste something new so I will definitely try this one. Earlier I tried your recipe for Veg Hyderabadi Biriyani. It was perfect. The snaps are very clear and motivating too. Though I use internet since last 10 years I wonder why I did not search for recipes on net. Instead I always preferred cooking shows on TV. Since last three months I am going through your recipes. All these years I was wandering here and there. Now I am settled in Trivandrum (Capital city of Kerala). I am a vegetarian and I alwalys prefer North Indian food when I go out, but here the hotel food (north Indian food ) dont have that taste. I mean here people r good at cooking other stuff. So now I rely on self cooking for all North Indian Food. Thanks for all your effort and All the best.
    I even enjoy reading about your college experiences and family preferences. bye5 stars

    1. welcome asha and thanks for writing this motivating comment. i loved reading it. actually most hotels are good in cooking the regional cuisine of their state. e.g. in north india, we don’t get good idli and dosa easily.

  11. Thank you Dasanna ji
    i m a vegetarian and i was looking for this recipe in the vegetarian version,
    your recipe is simple and was looking great.
    i m surely gonna try out this recipe

    regards3 stars

  12. Dear Dassana,
    Wonderful recipe and so easy to follow thanks to all the great images!
    I am half-Parsi and adore Dhansak daal. In fact, it is often cooked meatless, and non-veg Dhansaak is not auspicious to eat on birthdays and other special occasions, which is when the Parsis usually eat very simple Dhan-Daar (rice and a smooth yellow toor daal with a simple tarkha). Anyway, if you want to learn more about Parsi cooking, I can recommend the truly amazing book “My Bombay Kitchen” by Niloufer Ichaporia King (University of California Press, 2008), it’s not only a beautifully made book, it is really accessible and well-written and researched. You’ll find a number of excellent vegetarian recipes (also non-veg of course) in this book and it’s a real treasure.

    1. glad you liked the recipe anisha. i know through my parsi friends that non veg dhansak is not made on auspicious ocassions. thanks for suggesting the book. i shall be buying it soon.

  13. This recipe turned out great! I have tried many other Dhansaak recipes but nothing turned out as good as this one.

  14. amazing receipe. my wife is still licking her fingers and my kids love it. For them a made a slightly less spicey version. As my wife is from from vizag she has never really been exposed to the food other then south indian. i have one request. some time back when we were newly married my ex boss invited us for dinner at his house. there we had this amazing dish made of kaccha jackfruit chopped into big peices and cooked in some delicious mix of spices. we dont know its name but it was brown in colour and it was a north indian dish (he was from Dehradun). we tried looking up for this receipe for sometime. could you help me with it. thanks again for this great receipe

    1. good to know bhanu that your family liked the dhansak. thanks.

      i have never heard about this jackfruit recipe. i will try to find out and if possible will also write about it.

  15. one of parsi neighbors used to make chicken dhansak back home.. but its been 15 years since i moved.. thank you for the steps and the masala and the research…. this is going to get made soon! yummmmmmmmmm!

  16. Your receipe snaps looks only yummy with proper measurement of all ingredients step by step dassana, all receipes are simply superb.

  17. Thanks a ton. By the way, I AM A PARSI AND A VEG One at that. Now a another request!!!! Could you provide with Dhan Dal and Veg. Patia Recipe. Patia always has fish included in the recipe but I did have Veg. Patia at a restaurant on my way to Navsari. The cook was not available to procure the recipe. So a Parsi Dhandal & Veg. Patia please. Wow this is great.


    1. dear mani, its rare to be a parsi and a veg. great to know that. all my parsi friends and acquaintances were non vegetarians.

      i checked the recipe for dhan dal patia in a cookbook and found out that it has fish. let me see how i can make a dhan dal and veg patia. will surely post the recipe when i make it. i also plan to post some more vegetarian parsi recipes.

      1. i have added half of the onion while cooking veggies and the remaining half while sauteing. you can skip adding onion while boiling veggies if you want.