Total Time
Prep 20 mins
Cook 1 hr 40 mins

An Indian classic. The chicken is cooked in spiced Dhals. This was my fathers favourite, he always asked me to cook this dish for him. I still cook it but with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye as he is no longer with us. There is plenty to do in this recipe so take your time. You could use precooked canned lentils but, the result is not the same. Prepare the chicken the day before cooking it.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Cut chicken breasts in two and sever the legs at the joint.
  2. With the salt mash the ginger and garlic to a pulp.
  3. In a grinder mix together the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cardamoms, cinnamon stick, dried chillies, peppercorns, bay leaves, fenugreek seeds, and the mustard seed. Mix in 6 tbsp water to make a past, add the garlic and ginger pulp mix well and add to the chicken, making sure that the meat is well coated. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. In a large pan melt the ghee over medium heat and fry the chicken with any juices for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the water, bring to the boil and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  6. Mix the split peas and lentils together and wash them till the water runs clear. Drain them.
  7. Heat the oil in another pan and fry the onions till just golden.
  8. Add the turmeric and garam masala, cook for 1 min, add the lentils and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
  9. Add the water and salt bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook for 30 minutes.
  10. Mash the dhal to make a smooth sloppy mixture and add this to the pan with the chicken inches.
  11. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook for 30 mins,stirring to make sure that it does not stick or burn.
  12. Dissolve the tamarind in a little hot water and add this to the pan cook for 3 minutes.
  13. Serve with boiled rice and a good chutney.
Most Helpful

I was really looking forward to cooking this, as I make a few curries from scratch, difficult instructions to follow, but I managed it! Dished it up, everyone tasted it nobody ate it, bland tasteless, no heat, looked like chappie (dog food) and I love a dhansak, so I wont waste my time making this again

Sarah S. September 19, 2015

The meal was delicious but trying to follow this dreadfully written recipe was stressful. Three quantities of water are listed but the method doesn't say which applies where. I found I had to add more water regardless of what was intended. The method describes cooking the chicken and then the dhal before combining them but there is no reason I can see not to cook them at the same time and the dhal takes longer so needs to be started before the chicken. Not all the listed ingredients are mentioned in the method. Finally, it's bizarre that the spices for the marinade are prescribed in such detail but for the dhal it's "garam masala", which can mean just about anything.

Elliott M. August 29, 2015

This takes a lot of cooking time, but it is SO worth it. I used 6 oz of cracked red lentils because I didn't have the peas, and substituted dried for ground, and ground for whole, on several spices. Also threw in some curry leaves to the chicken rub, and used frozen chicken breasts cut into one-inch chunks for the protein. Served over brown rice. It really is delicious, and a change up from standard curries.

LynnE216 January 11, 2015