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Archive for July 23rd, 2009

chicken dhansak

For years and years I’d always order the same dish whenever I went for a curry. Chicken dhansak, a hot and sour parsi dish of chicken in a thick, spicy sauce with lentils, was recommended to me by a friend and afterwards I never tried anything else. Lentils make the sauce healthier than when cream is used, add to the fibre content of the dish and fill you up faster so you don’t eat as much… except that never happens to me when I go for a curry – papadums, naan, rice and of course a refreshing cold beer are all accompaniments and I rarely leave without consuming an entire day’s calories in one sitting.

I’ve tried cooking chicken dhansak few times in the past, but never with much success. The first time was when I was at university and after tearing the packet of lentils when trying to open them (and covering the floor with tiny red blobs) I eventually ended up making enough to feed an entire household as I got my quantities wrong and forgot to consider that lentils absorb water and expand. Sadly it didn’t taste too great either and I begrudginly ate the leftovers over the forthcoming few days, mostly because I couldn’t afford not to.

There’s a pack of split red lentils in the cupboard so I thought put them to good use and try making dhansak for dinner tonight. Whilst browsing the internet for inspiration and recipies, I came across a video on videojug called ‘how to cook chicken dhansak‘. Initially I wasn’t that impressed – there are plenty of recipes online and this one didn’t appeal – but after watching it again I realised that I know the restaurant that the lady in the video came from. It always used to be busy so, taking that into account, I thought it must be worth a try.

The recipe was simple to follow although I was confused about the order of some of the steps in the method. It states to start frying the chicken (which takes 20 minutes) before boiling the lentils (which take 30) and as such I ended up cooking the chicken for thirty minutes. Although it was over a low heat this was way too long and not surprisingly it ended up quite dry.

After an hour or so of cooking it was time for dinner. I was very impressed – it was the best dhansak I’ve made by far. There wasn’t as much sauce as I’d have from a takeaway so next time I’d add a few more lentils and a bit more water, but apart from that (and the dry chicken) there was not much wrong. In the future, I reckon it would be better frying the chicken 5 or so minutes before the cooked lentils are added.

Still not as good as the takeaway but it’s a start!

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