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Dhansak Sauce

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Make this dhansak curry sauce recipe and add the main ingredient of choice

If you are looking for an amazing dhansak curry sauce recipe, you’ve come to the right place! I have made this British Indian restaurant (BIR) classic many time. Make it and your dhansak curries will be just like those you find at the best curry houses.

dhansak sauce

You can add the main ingredient/s of your choice to this dhansak sauce.

The history of the dhansak curry.

Dhansak is a Parsi Dish. The Parsi people have lived in India for about 1300 years after migrating from Iran. Parsi cuisine is a mix of Gujarati vegetarian food and non-vegetarian Iranian food.


In India, dhansaks are special curries, usually cooked for special events like weddings. Although they are often vegetarian, they are usually made with mutton and two or three vegetables and served with brown rice. A selection of popular lentils are also added.

Dhansaks – British Indian restaurant BIR style

The curry house version of a dhansak is a lot simpler to make and contains fewer ingredients too.

Many chefs add pineapple to their dhansak curries to give it a sweeter flavour.

Not all chefs do though so you will have to decide whether or not to add the pineapple in this recipe.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of pineapple but it does work well in this dhansak curry sauce recipe.

At curry houses, the chefs usually only add one time of cooked lentils. These are usually the red split lentils but feel free to try others. 

Using a base curry sauce.

Curry house style dhansak curry sauce calls for a prepared base curry sauce. My ‘go to’ recipe is right here

Planning ahead

If you are planning a curry feast or just want to make serving your dhansak easier, you can make this recipe a day or two ahead of serving. 

In fact, the sauce will get better as the flavours develop!


If you love this Dansak curry sauce recipe you might like to try some of these.

Tikka masala sauce
Korma sauce
Pasanda sauce
Chasni sauce
Chilli garlic sauce
Ceylon sauce
Pathia sauce
Jalfrezi sauce
Keema sauce
Bhuna sauce
Methi sauce
Madras sauce
Vindaloo sauce
Phaal sauce

Yield: 1 - 2

How To Make An Authentic Indian Chicken Dhansak

dhansak sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 2 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes


  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp mixed powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) tomato puree
  • 250ml (1 cup) base sauce
  • 90g (1/2 cup) cooked red lentils
  • 60ml (scant 1/4 cup) pineapple juice 
  • 3 tinned pineapple rings - cut into cubes (optional)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro) finely chopped
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for about 30 seconds to cook off the rawness.
  2. Stir in the turmeric, mixed powder and chilli powder and stir the spices into the garlicky oil.
  3. Now add the tomato puree and bring it to a simmer. Then add about half of the base sauce and bring this to a simmer too. Only stir the sauce if it looks like it is sticking to the pan.
  4. Add the remaining base sauce and the pineapple juice. If you don't like pineapple juice, you could add some stock or a little more base sauce.
  5. Now is a good time to add your main ingredient of choice. This could be chicken lamb, prawns, whatever you like. If you are just making the sauce for use later, you don't have to add any main ingredient.
  6. Stir in the lentils. Be careful not to burn them. If your curry sauce is looking dry, you could add more base sauce.
  7. To finish, stir in the pineapples chunks (if using) and garnish with fresh coriander (cilantro). Taste and season with salt to taste.

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I hope you enjoy this dhansak curry sauce recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 


Roy Lye

Sunday 7th of May 2023

Made this tonight for my wife - as she does not like hot curry. I made the sauce yesterday (a fat free version) and today I BBQ'd some Beef Shawarma Kebabs. Served the dish with a stove top Peshwari Naan. Her verdict was it was the best dish she has every eaten. :)

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 10th of May 2023

Really glad your wife loved it. Thanks very much. Dan


Saturday 3rd of December 2022

What is the mixed powder?

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 7th of December 2022

You can buy it in Asian stores or if you prefer to make it, her is my recipe

Thanks Dan

Jan Dekker

Monday 1st of March 2021

Hi Dan - I remember cooking this years ago after finding it online, and it was lovely. Has your recipe changed? I think 'mixed powder' would have thrown me. What is that? Also, have you always included the pineapple chunks? That looks a bit scary.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 2nd of March 2021

I don't think my recipe has changed. You can find mixed powder in any Asian shop and also make your own if you prefer, I have a recipe on my web site. I always use pineapple chunks in my recipe but just miss them out if you don't like pineapple. Thanks Dan

David Fine

Friday 15th of January 2021

Really enjoy your recipes and your book, The Curry Guy. I love a traditional dhansak as enjoyed while I lived in London for many years, but I'm surprised this recipe does not include what I understand is some of the staple ingredients to give it that sweet, spicy tang; Tamarind, vinegar and sugar. Maybe the pineapple juice does the trick, but I would be surprised you don't need any sugar. Wonder what your thoughts are on those ingredients. Oddly, here in Vancouver, I have not found a single restaurant that does a dhansak, so making my own is the only way. Cheers!

Dan Toombs

Monday 18th of January 2021

Feel free to add sugar if you like it sweeter, I don't like it sweet but that is up to you. You can also add a teaspoon of tamarind if you like that flavour. Thanks Dan

Jos Hens

Saturday 29th of August 2020

Thanks Dan,

made this tonight with mixed vegetables ( onion, bel pepper, chickpeas), that I baked in advance, any spicing you' d recommend?

where does the lemon juice come in?

thansk for sharing all these great recipes!!

Best regards from the Netherlands


Dan Toombs

Sunday 30th of August 2020

Hi Just add a little lemon juice to taste at the end. Thanks Dan

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