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Lamb Dhansak


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Cafe Spice Namaste Lamb Dhansak
This is the traditional dhansak recipe you can find on the greedy gourmet website https://www.greedygourmet.com/recipes-for-diets/gluten-free/dhaan-saak/

I have compared it to that in Cyrus Todiwala’s Cafe Spice Namaste cookbook, first published in 1988 from where the online recipe originated, and I have corrected the text to rectify any errors and omissions on the website.
There is a lot of work to this dish, maybe not for the faint hearted, but if you want to prepare something with the Wow factor for friends and family you could spread the preparation of the various components over several days or even weeks with the aid of a freezer.


100g toor daal
50g channa daal
50g moong daal
100g masoor daal
1 small aubergine, diced
100g pumpkin (peeled weight), diced
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh dill
1 colcasia leaf (arbi), if available 
50g fresh fenugreek leaves, or 1 tbsp of dried leaves
6 tbsp prepared tamarind pulp or paste or 2 tbsp concentrate
100g jaggery
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander stalks
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint stalks
Salt, to taste

For the Wet Masala
5cm piece of cinnamon stick
6 cardamom
6-8 cloves
2 tsp cumin seeds
10 peppercorns
1 heaped tsp coriander seeds
8-10 large dried red chillies
3 x 2.0cm pieces fresh ginger, roughly chopped
10-12 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
30-50g fresh coriander, stalks and leaves

Dry Masala 
3-4 cardamom pods
3-4 cloves
2-3 star anise
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
8-10 black peppercorns
2-3 dried red chillies
2 tsp dried fenugreek

2-3 tbsp oil
500g boned leg of lamb, in 2cm cubes, ask your butcher to saw up the bones and give them to you.
150ml water 
Chopped fresh coriander and mint to garnish

5 tbsp vegetable oil
4 onions finely sliced
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2.0cm piece of cinnamon stick
3-4 cardamom pods
3-4 cloves
4-5 star anise
500g basmati rice, washed and drained
About 2 tsp salt to taste

1 onion, very finely chopped
Oil for frying
500g fresh lean minced lamb
5cm piece fresh root ginger, very finely chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, very finely chopped 
2 green chillies, very finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1.5 tsp ground coriander
0.25 tsp ground turmeric
0.5 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tsp lemon juice
3 slices of brown or white bread, soaked in a little water, then squeezed out into a ball
Salt to taste

1 large onion, finely sliced
2 tsp chopped fresh coriander
10 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 small tomato, deseeded and finely chopped
1tsp white vinegar
Salt, to taste


Wash all the pulses and transfer to a large heavy-based saucepan.
Add water to cover by 2.0cm, then add all the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan regularly with a wooden spatula. When the lentils are fully cooked, puree the entire contents of the pot until smooth, then cover and set aside.

First prepare the masalas.

Wet Masala 
Heat a large heavy based frying pan or wok, add all the ingredients except the fresh coriander and roast gently for about five minutes, stirring frequently. When the chilies and spices look roasted (i.e., they have changed colour slightly but are not actually discoloured) remove and grind to a smooth paste in a blender, adding the fresh coriander and just enough water to process the mixture.

Dry Masala 
Roast all the ingredients gently in a wok or skillet, stirring regularly.
When the spices have changed colour, smell gorgeous and look roasted, remove from the heat and allow to cool. 
Transfer to a grinder and process into a fine powder.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, add the lamb and the bones and sauté on a high heat until the meat is well coloured.

Add the wet masala  and cook until you see the oil separating along the sides of the pan. Add the 150ml of water, check salt, and cover tightly and cook on a medium heat for 40-45 minutes, stirring regularly and adding a little more water if it looks too dry.

When the lamb is cooked and you have a nice thick, rich gravy, stir the mixture into the puréed dhal. Add half of the dry masala then taste. If it is to your liking, save the rest of the masala to serve with other lamb dishes. Or add the rest of the masala, a little at a time, tasting as you go.
This is your Sak.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add half the onions, fry until crisp and golden. Drain well on kitchen paper and set aside with the mint and coriander, they will be used to garnish the rice just before serving.
Add the spices to the casserole and cook over a fairly high heat for 2 minutes, stirring until dark and swollen. 
Add the remaining onions and cook gently, stirring frequently until they are a deep brown colour.
Add the rice and cook over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes, turning the rice regularly so that all the grains are evenly heated.
Add the salt, the pour in enough hot water to cover the rice by 2.0cm. Stir for a minute, cover tightly and cook over a very a low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
Check on the rice every now and again, stirring from the bottom up with a flat wooden spatula. If you need more water add it a little at a time.
The pulao should take approximately 15-20 minutes to cook. When the grains are cooked, set aside but do not uncover the pot.

Sheek Kebabs
Fry the onion in 1 tablespoon of oil until soft. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Mix with all the other ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly blended.
Cover the mince mixture and chill in the refrigerator.
Roll the lamb mixture into 2.5cm (1in) balls. 
Deep fry the kebabs or, if preferred, place them on a greased baking sheet and bake in an oven preheated to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 for about 20 minutes

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

Serving the Dhansak 
Reheat the rice, lamb and kebabs if necessary.
Garnish the Pulao with the fried onions, mint and coriander, then dot with the kebabs over the top.
Garnish the Sak (meat and lentils) with chopped fresh coriander and mint.
Serve Kachumber on the side.

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