Books by Richard Sayce

Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 1
Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 2 Front Cover
Curry Compendium Cookbook
Chicken Tikka Dhansak

BIR Dhansak Curry Recipe: 

With its generous inclusion of dhal, the dhansak curry stands tall and righteous. The comforting texture of aromatically spiced lentils and the balance of sweet and sour make this a very satisfying dish. The only conflict is whether or not to include pineapple. North / South divide, perhaps?

This recipe will feed 1-2 people. Scroll down for the video.

You can also find this dhansak recipe in my books CURRY COMPENDIUM and INDIAN RESTAURANT CURRY AT HOME VOLUME 1. All my books are available in both physical and kindle formats.


  • 3 TBSP (45ml) Oil
  • 2-3 tsp Ginger/Garlic Paste
  • 1¼ tsp Mix Powder
  • ¼-½ tsp Chilli Powder
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 2 Green Cardamom Pods, split open
  • 1 tsp Kasuri Methi
  • 330ml+ Base Gravy
  • 4-5 TBSP Tomato Paste
  • Pre-Cooked Chicken, Tikka, Lamb, Vegetables, etc.
  • 6-9 TBSP (90-120 ml) Pre-Cooked Dhal (see Notes)
  • 6 Chunks Pineapple (optional)
  • 1 TBSP Jaggery, Brown Sugar, or White Sugar
  • 2 tsp (10ml) Lime Juice (Lemon will suffice)


  • 2 tsp (10ml) Butter Ghee (optional)
  • 1 TBSP fresh Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
Lamb Dhansak


  1. Heat a frying pan to medium high heat and add the oil.
  2. When the oil has heated add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for 20-30 seconds or until it starts browning. The sound of sizzling waning (water content has almost been cooked out) is a good indication that the ginger/garlic paste has cooked enough to continue to the next stage.
  3. Add the kasuri methi, mix powder, chilli powder, salt, and the green cardamom pods. Fry for 20-30 seconds to properly cook the powdered spices, stirring frequently. If the mixture starts to stick to the base of the pan, pour in a splash of base gravy (about 30ml) to allow the spices enough time to fry out without burning.
  4. Now mix in the tomato paste and turn the heat up to high. Stir frequently until you see the oil float to the surface, and small, dry craters start appearing around the edges of the pan.
  5. Add the pre-cooked chicken, tikka, lamb, vegetables, etc.
  6. Then add 75ml of base gravy and stir and scrape everything together. Leave to fry for a while until, once again, the oil floats to the surface and small dry craters form around the edges of the pan.


  1. Add a second 75ml of base gravy, stir and scrape together, and again leave to cook as in the previous stage.
  2. Then add 150ml of base gravy, along with the pre-cooked dhal, lime juice, jaggery/sugar, and the optional pineapple chunks. Stir and scrape once when first added.
  3. Leave to cook on high heat for 4-5 minutes with minimal interference. Allow the sauce to stick and caramelise on the sides and surface of the pan. Stir and scrape the curry together only to prevent burning. The dhansak will end up quite thick because of the dhal. To adjust the consistency, you can add extra base gravy nearer the end of cooking.
  4. For extra richness and shine add 2 tsp of butter ghee right at the end.
    Serve, sprinkling the coriander leaves on top.


  • All spoon measurements are level (1 tsp = 5ml, 1 TBSP = 15ml).
  • You can pre-cook the lentils using this simple dhal recipe, or for a more elaborate flavour try this one.
  • Pineapple is voluntary in a dhansak. Opinion is divided on its use, but I love it. I have eaten dhansak all over the UK and find that the pineapple is generally included in the North, and left out in the South.
  • The amount of added salt (¼ tsp) used in the dish is slightly less than other curries because of the additional salt content in the pre-cooked dhal. Adjust to taste.
  • Make sure to scrape out all the residue from the bottom and sides of the pan when you are serving. There’s a lot of fantastic flavour in the thick crusty bits.
  • Enjoy this Dhansak curry recipe, and please visit the Misty Ricardo’s Curry Kitchen YouTube Channel for lots of Indian recipes.
Watch the Video


  1. Wingnut

    I made this today (a vegan version with baked tofu instead of meat). I’m not an experienced or skilled cook by any means, and the kitchen now looks like a bomb’s hit it, but the results were absolutely superb. Far better than my local curry house. Gonna try some more of your recipes soon. Thank you!

    • Richard Sayce

      Very pleased you liked it, thank you for the comment. Was the tofu firm enough?

      • Wingnut

        Yes, I baked it with a little cornflour for a slightly crispy outer and firm inner. Gives a fairly realistic meat effect, ideal for curry house style dishes like this 🙂

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