Vegetable Dhansak, Parsi Brown Rice And Kachumbar – An Indian Style Salsa
We have been exploring each other’s traditional cuisines these past two months in the course of our Velveteering. We tried Alessio’s Caponata and Pamela’s [Laksa](http
  1. To make the Dhansak, start by first making the spice paste. Dry roast the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and red chillies, one at a time, in a small pan over low to medium heat, till the aroma of each just begins to emanate. Let them cool and then grind these and the rest of the ingredients for the spice paste with a couple of tsp of water into a paste. Keep aside.
  2. Put all the lentils in a bowl and wash them well. Then add enough water and the vegetables (eggplant, potato and pumpkin) and pressure cook till done. You can also do this on the stovetop in a largish thick walled pan.
  3. Once you can open the pressure cooker, remove the cooked lentils and vegetables and mash them well. For dhansak this means that there should be no lumps of vegetables visible, and the mixture should be smooth which is probably as it should be if there is going to be meat in your Dhansak. I wanted a bit of texture in my Dhansak so I mashed everything such that small bits of vegetables could still be seen.
  4. Soak the kasuri methi in 2 tbsp of hot water. Heat the oil in a kadhai/ pan and add the ginger-garlic paste and the spice paste. Cook for about one minute over medium heat, stirring frequently, seeing that it doesnu2019t burn. Add the onions. Sautxe9 till the onions till they turn golden brown. Now add the tomatoes and cook till they become soft.
  5. Add the mashed lentil-vegetable mixture, turmeric powder, the soaked kasuri methi with the water, tamarind pulp, sugar and salt, and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Cook till gravy thickens and bubbles. The dhansak should be like a thick stew in consistency. If it starts looking dry and hisses/ spits, add a little water to thin it down a bit.
  6. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander. Serve hot with Brown Rice, Kachumbar and Pappads. This recipe serves 4.
  7. For the Parsi Brown Rice, wash and soak the rice in water for half an hour. Then drain the water completely. While the rice is soaking, heat half the oil/ ghee (2 tbsp) in a pan and, over low to medium heat, sautxe9 the sliced onions till they caramelise (do not burn) to a dark brown and become crisp. Remove from the pan and keep aside.
  8. In a small pan, over medium heat, sprinkle the sugar in a thin layer and let it caramelise till it is quite brown. Do not disturb the sugar while it is melting, but you may stir it a couple of times after it has started turning brown. Make sure it does not burn.
  9. Once the sugar has turned a darkish shade of brown, turn of the heat and immediately (and carefully) pour 1 cup of water into the pan. Stir quickly to dissolve the caramel in the water completely. Keep aside.
  10. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil/ ghee in a largish pan. Add the whole spices and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the drained rice, and stir fry for another minute. Now add about 3/4 of the fried onion (keep the rest for garnishing), the caramel water, the remaining 3 cups of ware and the salt.
  11. Mix well, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes till the rice is cooked, the water is completely absorbed and the grains are separate. Stir a couple of times in between to ensure even cooking but be careful otherwise the rice might break and become mushy.
  12. Serve warm with the Dhansak, Kachumber and Pappads. This recipe serves 4.
  13. For the Kachumbar (Indian Style Onion-Tomato-Cucumber Salsa), put all the ingredients in a bowl and toss together. Adjust to taste, put into a serving dish and serve alongside the main dish of Brown Rice and Dhansak!
  14. This recipe serves 4.
Recipe Notes

This was our lunch yesterday and we enjoyed it. The Brown Rice was light with a just a hint of sweetness and so beautifully fragrant. I only wish I had discovered it before. The Dhansak was quite creamy and if I hadn’t cooked it, I wouldn’t have known there was eggplant and pumpkin (not two of my personal favourites) in it! The spices in Dhansak can get heavy and overpowering so it is important not to overdo them, and while it’s a beautiful dish, it is definitely not everyday fare.

The combination of both with the fresh flavours of the Kachumber and the crunch of the Pappads was perfect. If you cannot find Pappads, salted potato wafers are a good alternative. Being the south Indian I am, I think yogurt would have been the perfect way to finish the meal, but then that’s me.

Cooking this meal might seem laborious but it is not. You just need to be organised and have everything prepped and at hand. Then all it takes is putting it all together which doesn’t take all that much time.

The four of us (Alessio, Asha,Pamela and I) and anyone else who joins us, explore cuisines through a new dish/ style of cooking/ cuisine every month. Each of us will share our recipes and, experiences on our blogs.

This month’s Dhansak recipes:

Asha: Mutton Dhansak

Sarah: Easy Chicken Dhansak

Lindsay: Lamb Dhansak Pot Pie

Veena: Vegetarian Dhansak