Veg Dhansak

Veg Dhansak

Till day “Dhansak” remains the crowning glory of Parsi cuisine for me as also for abundant Mumbaikars. A spin on the authentic mutton dhansak, this Vegetarian adaptation is for scores of people like me including those now turned veg. Typically a melange of dals and vegetables, this recipe literally oozes with flavours and texture alike. Pair it with brown rice & onion salad and you get the feeling that this is truly a match made in heaven !!! Simply talking about Dhansak makes me nostalgic about those yesteryears in school & college when we would dig into lunch boxes of our Parsi friends or drop in at the CCI club to relish this unique preparation…

Wishing all my Parsi friends “Happy Pateti”


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Course Main
Servings 6 persons
Prep time 20 Minutes
Cook time 30 Minutes

Ingredients for the Dhansak Gravy

(1 cup = 200 ml; 1 tbsp = 15 ml)

1 cup Tuvar (arhar) dal
½ cup Red masoor dal
½ cup Yellow moong dal
½ cup Chana dal
3 small Brinjals, chopped
1 big piece Pumpkin chopped (approx. 180 gms)
1 cup Methi, chopped
6 – 7 springs of mint leaves
1 tsp Haldi (turmeric powder)
Salt to taste
6 – 7 cups Water

Ingredients for the Paste

(1 cup = 200 ml; 1 tbsp = 15 ml)

8 cloves Garlic
5 – 6 nos. Cloves
9 nos. Pepper corns
3 nos. Green cardamom
1 pc Cinnamon stick (dalchini)
8 nos. Green chilies
1 cup Coriander leaves
1 inch pc Ginger
¼ th cup Dry coconut grated
1 no. Star anise

Ingredients for Gravy Tempering (Vagaar)

(1 cup = 200 ml; 1 tbsp = 15 ml)

2 – 3 tbsp Ghee
2 big Onions, finely chopped
2 big Tomatoes, finely chopped
½ cup Spring onion, stalk (boil a few spring onion greens in water for 10 min.)
2 tsp Jeera
2 tsp Coriander seeds
Juice of 1-2 lemon as per taste
2 tsp Dana methi, seeds
1 tsp Red chili powder
2-3 tbsp Ready Parsi dhansak masala (optional)

Ingredients for Parsi Brown Rice

(1 cup = 200 ml; 1 tbsp = 15 ml) 

2 cups Basmati Rice
2 nos. Bay leaves
2 – 3 nos. Green cardamom
1 – 2 nos Star anise
3 big Onions, sliced thinly
1 tbsp Ghee
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Brown sugar
1 stick Cinnamon
3 – 4 Pepper corns
2 Cloves

Instructions for the Dhansak Gravy

1. Wash and rinse all the dals well. Drain.
2. Pressure cook the dals alongwith the vegetables mentioned and with water. Add salt to taste.  Add in the haldi. Cook for about 6-7 whistles. Keep aside to cool.

3. Once cooled, mash the dal and veg together and strain through a sieve.

Instructions for Paste

1. Grind all the ingredients together into a fine paste using very little water.

Instructions for Tempering the Gravy

1. Heat the ghee in a pan. Sauté onions until they turn brown.
2. Add in the spring onion stock (Discard the greens use only water)
3. Add in tomatoes and cook until mushy.
4. Add in the ground masala paste and cook until the fat comes up to the surface. Let the paste get cooked properly on a slow flame.
5. Dry roast the jeera, coriander seeds and methi dana without oil. Grind into fine powder.

6. Add the above powder to the onion tomato mixture and cook until the aroma releases.
7. Add in the red chili powder and sauté.
8. Add in the cooked dal and let it boil.
9. Add in water if you feel the gravy is too thick and let it boil. Add in salt to taste.
10. You can add ready Dhansak masala whilst the mixture boils for additional flavor. (This is optional)
11. The gravy should be semi thick switch off once it reaches this consistency. Add in lemon juice.

Instructions for Rice

1. Heat ghee in a pan. Sauté all the whole spices.
2. Add in the sliced onions and cook until brown.
3. Make a well in centre and add in brown sugar. Let it melt. Mix in with the onions.

4. Add in washed and soaked rice alongwith water.
5. Season the rice with salt and cook rice until done. Do not let it become mushy. The rice grains should be fluffy and separate.
6. Serve the rice with the dhansak gravy.It goes best with onion-tomato salad and Papad.


1. Please feel free to add tamarind paste instead of lemon juice to the gravy as some recipes use that.
2. Once you want to reheat the gravy, add in little water and check the seasoning. This gravy when kept tends to become thick.
3. I’ve used the Ahura Spice Brand Dhansak masala powder, which is readily available on Amazon. This is also optional only if you want a stronger flavour and aroma to the dish.
4. To cook rice normally we add 1 cup – 2 cups of water. Cook accordingly.
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