Lamb cooked with lentils and vegetables


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook: 300 Classic Recipes from the Great Regions of India

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook

By Mridula Baljekar

Published 2017

  • About

This deliciously piquant dish, Dhansak, originated in the state of Gujarat, where the ancient Persians first landed after fleeing from their own country (now known as Iran). Here, cubed lamb is browned and simmered with a mouthwatering medley of pungent, freshly ground spices, then brought together with separately prepared lentils and vegetables, before being served alongside basmati rice.


  • 45 ml/3 tbsp sunflower oil or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 10 ml/2 tsp ginger purée
  • 10 ml/2 tsp garlic purée
  • 5 ml/1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2.5 cm/1 in piece of cinnamon stick, broken
  • 10–12 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5–6 fenugreek seeds
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 5 ml/1 tsp chilli powder, or to taste
  • 675 g/½lb boned leg of lamb, cut into 2.5cm/2in cubes
  • 150 g/5 oz canned chopped tomatoes
  • 5 ml/1 tsp salt, or to taste

For the lentil and vegetable mixture

  • 75 g/3 oz/ cup yellow split gram (channa dhal)
  • 75 g/3 oz/ cup red split lentils (masoor dhal)
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp sunflower oil or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh green chillies, chopped
  • 5 ml/1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 small aubergine (eggplant), cut into 5cm/2in pieces
  • 5 ml/1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp tamarind juice or lime juice
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra sprigs, to garnish
  • plain (all-purpose) flour, to serve


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan over a medium heat and add the onion. Stir-fry for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft but not brown, then add the ginger and garlic and continue to stir-fry for 3–4 minutes, until the mixture begins to brown.

  2. Grind the coriander, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, bay leaves, fenugreek and black mustard seeds in a coffee grinder or blender, until fine.

  3. Add the chilli powder and ground spices to the onion mixture and cook for 2 minutes, then add the meat. Stir-fry over a high heat for 5 minutes, until the meat changes colour.

  4. Add the tomatoes and salt, then pour in 120ml/4fl oz/½ cup warm water. Bring the pan to the boil, cover and simmer for 35–40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  5. Meanwhile, for the lentil and vegetable mixture, wash both types of lentils and drain.

  6. Heat the oil in a medium pan and fry the onion and green chillies for 8–9 minutes over a medium heat, until the onion is browned. Stir in the turmeric, followed by the drained lentils and aubergine pieces. Reduce the heat to low and stir-fry the mixture for 1–2 minutes.

  7. Pour in 600ml/1 pint/½ cups warm water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20–25 minutes, stirring. Stir in the salt, remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly, then push the lentils through a sieve (strainer). Discard any coarse mixture that is left in the sieve.

  8. Add the tamarind or lime juice to the lentils. Pour the mixture over the lamb and simmer for 15–20 minutes longer, stirring to ensure the lentils do not stick to the pan.

  9. Stir in the coriander and remove from the heat. Garnish with the sprigs of coriander, and serve with Plain Boiled Rice.

Per portion Energy 470kcal/1970kJ; Protein 32.7g; Carbohydrate 36.5g, of which sugars 9g; Fat 22.7g, of which saturates 7.1g; Cholesterol 85.5mg; Calcium 106mg; Fibre 4.8g; Sodium 133mg.