Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sunday lunch : Dhansak, brown rice and veg kebabs

We were in Bombay for a wedding last May and my cousin had raved about this lovely Iranian restaurant called Britannia in South Bombay
She had said the food was awesome and the people who ran the place were even more awesome !! The restaurant is open only for lunch and only on weekdays because the owner believes in spending evenings and dinners with his family. I thought it was so nice that someone believed that it was more valuable to spend time with family as opposed to making more money by keeping it open for dinners.
Very basic and functional, but packed every day because of the authentic Parsi food they serve, this place is a little treasure of a restaurant.

The berry pulav here is simply fantastic, very fragrant and mildly spiced - an absolute must if you visit this place. The "patra-ni-machi" fish wrapped in banana leaf is another amazing creation here and of course the eternal Parsi favourite of dhansak and brown rice.
Not really a place for vegetarians, but believe me, its worth converting for this one meal here..

Last Sunday, I was all set to spend the entire morning cooking for lunch and since S was away at work (even on a Sunday *grrr*), I had all the time. Decided on a dhansak, brown rice and veg kebabs.
The picture does not do justice to how great this finally turned out - it was really fragrant and even S, who can be a hard core non vegetarian, said it was really authentic, but of course added that the lamb kebabs were the only thing missing !!

Recipe for the brown rice and dhansak adapted from

What you need -

For the dhansak

Dhansak masala
4 garlic cloves
1 inch piece of ginger
4 dry red chilies
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
2 cardamoms, peeled
4 black peppercorns

2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tsp dhania powder
1 tsp jeera powder
1/2 cup tur dal
1/2 cup moong dal
1/2 cup masoor dal
(You could use 1 and 1/2 cup of tur dal and skip the other dals)
2 small brinjals (i used the purple round ones)
100 gms piece of red pumpkin cut into 4 pieces
A few sprigs of fresh methi leaves / spinach
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp tamarind pulp
1 tbsp grated jaggery
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil/ ghee

For the brown rice -

2 cups basmati rice
2 onions, finely sliced
4 tsp sugar
2 pieces cinnamon sticks of 2 inches each
6 cloves
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp oil / ghee

For the kebabs -

3 raw bananas
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp cumin powder
1 small onion chopped fine
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ajwain
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
1 cup bread crumbs
2 bread slices (optional)

What you do with it -

Dhansak -

Grind together all the ingredients mentioned for dhansak masala
(Try and do this instead of using ready powder - its really worth the effort)
Heat oil or ghee in a deep pan and fry onion in it till brown.
Add masala paste, tumeric powder and cumin and coriander powder and cook for 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes
Add the 3 dals, brinjal, methi/spinach leaves and mix well
Add 6 cups water and salt and boil
Cover and cook on a slow fire
Soak tamarind pulp in 1/3 cup and extract pulp
Mash the dal as much as possible
Add tamarind juice and jaggery to the dal and cook on slow fire for 10 minutes Add a little more water if it is too thick
Garnish with fried onion and chopped coriander leaves

Brown rice -

Soak the rice in water for 1/2 hour
Heat oil or ghee in a pan and fry onion in it till brown
Remove pan from fire and drain excess oil
Put sugar in a small pan and heat over a low flame till its dark brown
Add two tbsp of water to the sugar to form brown caramelized liquid
Place pan with fried onion back on fire, drain water from rice and add to onion
Stir and allow to cook for 5 minutes or more till rice is nicely fried
Add caramel water and cook 4 or 5 minutes till rice is well blended
Add cinnamon stick, cloves, salt and 3 1/2 cups water
Bring to boil, then cover, lower flame and continue cooking till water is absorbed and rice is cooked
Sprinkle some fried onion over rice before serving

Kebabs -

Peel the raw bananas and steam till they are soft
I had two bread slices, so soaked these in water and drained it
Mash the raw bananas and add all other ingredients except the bread crumbs
Make round pattie shaped or kebab shaped pieces
Roll in the bread crumbs and shallo fry in a pan with oil


Manju said...

hmm..interesting and delicious!

Varsha Vipins said...

Oh Arch..They looks so lovely..From the details of ingredients n the method I can very well guess the taste..:)..need to find a parsi restaurant soon..I may love their food..:)..n I never knew we can add banana's to Kebab's..looks great tho I wud prefer Lamb kebabs like ur hubby..:)
Oh..I made a long comment..sorry..Its my first time here..Nice space u have..:)

Unknown said...

That looks lovely and delicious. I have heard so much about dhansak but have never tasted or made it. Loved the kebabs made with plantains too !

Miri said...

DRoool - I grew up eating dhansak in Mumbai at a neighbour's house and have all kind of memories associated with it - your veg version looks yummy!


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