Spices & Indian Food Recipes: Chicken Dhansak
Hello, Welcome to the Asian Cookshop’s Blog.
A lifetime spent cooking curry, experimenting with Indian food & spices, Chef and Restaurateur – at 60 I will pass on my comments via the great team we have at the Cookshop – [they can type faster as well!]
When I opened my first Indian restaurant in 1975, Indian food was not well known and it was quite a job to get diners trying something that must have looked and smelled very different. I think this is where the milder, sweeter curries like Korma and Tikka Masala were invented [or ‘reinvented’ I should say] – delicately spiced, mild, sweet dishes that would prove popular as a gateway into the many ‘spicier’ dishes on offer. Many of my regulars started off with these dishes and then after gaining a little more confidence, quickly moved onto the Bhunas and Madras available.
Korma is a dish well known in India and the subcontinent, but it is not as sweet, creamy and ‘mild’ as served here, but commonly a dish quite similar to butter chicken – mild, spiced, flavoursome, less creamy, with butter ghee. As for Masala, the word masala means a blend of spices and so is quite generic for a curry! It is a name used for a curry created in the Uk, and so without a true base to follow from India, they pretty much vary in taste wherever you go. From tomato based curries to yoghurt bases, masala has become synonymous for a milder curry with sauce.
Since leaving the trade in 2005, I have been asked a thousand times for good authentic recipes for ‘British Indian Restaurant Style’ curries [BIR], curries that we are used to being served in restaurants and takeaways throughout the Uk. Most are different to what is served in India and you would not get a BIR tikka masala however hard you tried!
This is where my ‘U Cook Curry Kits‘ were created as many regulars would ask me for ingredients and recipes to cook at home, rather then dine out as they had friends coming round. Back then, ingredients were not as commonly found in supermarkets and the kits proved very popular – developing into what is available now here at the Asian Cookshop.
I get asked what my favourite curry is and have to say its the Persian classic ‘Dhansak’. A spicy, sweet, sour curry, packed with flavour. So when asked to add a curry recipe here, there could only be one – my
BIR Chicken Dhansak:
You Will Need:
- 4 medium onions
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tej patta Indian bay leaves
- 2 dalchini cinnamon stick [approx 2” each]
- 1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 heaped tbsp rajah mild madras curry powder
- 1 heaped tbsp rajah mixed masala
- 1 heaped tbsp methi leaves
- 1/2 tsp rajah garam masala
- 1 heaped tsp tomato puree
- 600ml cold water
- 100g masoor dal [soaked for 30 mins, washed and drained]
- 2 medium breast chicken [cubed]
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 2 & 1/2 tbsp jaggery goor powder
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Peel and slice the onions. On a slow heat, warm pan and then add vegetable oil and the sliced onions. Stir and add tej patta and dalchini – Stir and break up onions.
- Add 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste and stir, then add salt -the salt helps soften onions as well as add flavour. Add cardamom powder, haldi powder, rajah mild curry powder, rajah mixed masala, methi leaf, rajah garam masala, tomato puree and stir in.
- Add 600ml cold water and stir, then increase to medium heat. Cook for 2 mins and then add masoor dal – cook for 2 mins.
- Add cubed chicken breast and cook. Once boiling reduce heat, cover and simmer to cook on slow heat [approx 20mins].
- Once chicken is cooked, add chilli flake, jaggery goor powder, lemon juice, salt and stir well. Simmer gently uncovered for 5mins on low heat. Serve hot with basmati rice & naan or chapati.
Tips: I like the citrus flavour of lemon but you can use tamarind as well. If the curry is too thick you can add a little more water at the lemon juice stage. If you like it thicker you can let it reduce for a further 5 mins uncovered.
Chef @ the asian cookshop