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Easy Chicken Dhansak

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Make your own takeaway with this easy chicken dhansak recipe

Anyone who has followed my blog and/or books for a while will know that I love a good curry house style curry. This easy chicken dhansak, though a bit sweet for my liking is a family favourite at my house.

To make a dhansak like they do at British Indian restaurants a base sauce is used for speed, texture and flavour. You can see how that is done here.

As you will find from this easy chicken dhansak recipe, you can also make this famous curry using more traditional methods. 

easy chicken dhansak

This easy chicken dhansak taste just as good as those at the best Indian takeaways.


Does a curry house style korma have to be made with a base sauce?

The answer to that one is yes and no. If you want to make a chicken dhansak that tastes just like those at curry houses, you will need to prepare it with a base sauce as I do here.


That said, this easy chicken dhansak recipe will achieve equally as delicious results. Different results, yes. But I promise you won’t be disappointed.

How is this easy chicken dhansak different?

To make this easy chicken dhansak, you just need to use more traditional Indian cooking techniques.

This involves preparing a base masala in the pan by frying onions and adding a little chicken stock. I like the recipe exactly as written but you could also blend the sauce ingredients before adding the chicken if you prefer a smoother gravy.

Do I have to use pre-cooked chicken for this recipe?

No! I like to pre-cook the chicken as it is at curry houses. This speeds up the final cooking process and also adds another layer of flavour.

There are a number of ways to do this including the easy recipe below. If you want, however, you could just add the chicken raw to the simmering sauce and cook it for about ten minutes or until cooked through.

You are also not limited to chicken. Pre-cooked lamb, beef, tofu and vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are all amazing stirred into the sauce.

How I pre-cooked the chicken for this recipe.

You can really use any pre-cooked chicken. Sometimes I give new life to leftovers by adding them to a curry. That works too.

In this case, I simply dusted some chicken tikka with tandoori masala. Then I fried the spiced chicken in some oil.

It really was that easy and tasted great added to this easy chicken dhansak.

Planning ahead…

There isn’t really all that much to do. This easy chicken dhansak is a one pot dish after all.

That said, you could fry the chicken a couple of days ahead of serving if you like. Go ahead and finely chop or blend the onions too.

Step by step…

Frying onions

Fry the chopped onions in the oil over medium high heat until soft, translucent and lightly browned.

Adding garlic and ginger paste to pan

Add the garlic and ginger paste to the pan and stir well to combine. Fry for about 30 – 60 seconds.

Adding spices and tomato puree to pan

Add the ground spices and stir well. Then add the tomato puree to make your base masala.

Adding chicken stock to pan

Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.

Adding meat to dhansak

Add the pre-cooked chicken, lentils, pineapple juice and pineapple pieces if using.  Heat until the chicken is hot. You can also add raw chicken but the cooking time will be longer.

Finishing the chicken dhansak to serve

To finish, season with salt to taste and add the kasoori methi by rubbing it between your fingers. Also add the garam masala.

Easy chicken dhansak

So quick and easy to make. One pot (pan) is all you need.

Restaurant style chicken dhansak

Dig in!

If you like this easy chicken dhansak recipe, you might enjoy some of these too. 

Chicken 65
Chinese Sesame Chicken
Chicken Rendang
Beef Rendang
Korean Fried Chicken

Yield: 4

Easy Chicken Dhansak

Chicken dhansak
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 tbsp Rapeseed (Canola) oil
  • 2 large onions peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 700g (approximately 1.5 Ib) pre-cooked chicken tikka
  • 2 tbsp mixed powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tps garam masala
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 100g (approximately 4 oz) cooked red lentils
  • 200 ml (approximately 1 cup) passata
  • 480 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
  • 220g (approximately 7oz) tinned pineapple chunks plus approximately 50ml of the pineapple juice
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp Fenugreek leaves


  1. If cooking your lentils, soak and cook them as per the instructions on the side of the pack. You need to cook them until really soft. Strain and wipe the pan clean.
  2. In the same pan, heat the oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and fry for about 5 minutes or until soft, translucent and lightly browned.
  3. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry for a further 30 - 60 seconds.
  4. Now add the mixed powder (or curry powder), turmeric and chilli powder and stir it all into the onion mixture. Stir in the tomato puree or passata and bring to a simmer. Then stir in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the pre-cooked chicken and the lentils, pineapple juice and sugar and simmer until the chicken is heated through. You can add raw chicken but this will increase the cooking time.
  6. Add the tinned pineapple chunks and lemon juice and cook for a further few minutes or until you are happy with the sauce consistency.
  7. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with Fenugreek leaves, garam masala and coriander( cilantro). Season with salt to taste.
  8. Serve with basmati rice

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