Make this chicken dhansak from scratch with or without pineapple.
When if comes to curry house style chicken dhansak, there are two groups of fans… Those who like pineapple in their curry and those that don’t. You can make this chicken dhansak from scratch, just as you like it.
This chicken dhansak from scratch recipe is just like those you get at the best curry houses but you don’t need to prepare a base curry sauce first.
What is the difference between this chicken dhansak from scratch and curry house cooking?
You will not taste any real difference in the flavour. If anything, this chicken dhansak from scratch will be better than what you get at the best curry houses.
At curry houses around the UK, the chefs use a base curry sauce to prepare everything from the mildest kormas to the spiciest vindaloos and phaals.
If you would like to try a chicken dhansak done the curry house way, I have you covered. Try this recipe.
Which cut of chicken?
At curry houses, pre-cooked tandoori chicken breast or stewed chicken breasts are used. I prefer thigh meat as it has more flavour.
As with restaurant style cooking, I used pre-cooked tandoori style chicken in this recipe.
You could use raw chicken too. You might need to add a bit more water or chicken stock to help the chicken cook through.
Do I have to use chicken?
Absolutely not! Beef, lamb, game whatever. You could also make this into a vegetarian dhansak but adding seasonal veggies or paneer.
How to get this chicken dhansak just right.
You should taste the sauce as you go adjusting the flavours as you like. Add more tamarind for a tarter flavour. Perhaps more or less chilli powder. You have the recipe for the way I like it but that can easily be adjusted to taste.
Yes or no to pineapple chunks.
Many curry houses add pineapple chunks to their dhansaks. There are a lot, however that don’t.
If you like fruit in your curry, add it. If not, leave it out. The pineapple juice in the sauce, however is a must in my opinion.
About the lentils…
Use split red lentils for this recipe. They can be soaked and cooked in about 20 minutes.
You could also use leftover dhal if you have any on hand.
If you like this chicken dhansak from scratch, you might like to try some of these too…
Chicken Tikka Masala from Scratch
Chicken Dopiaza from Scratch
Beef Madras from Scratch
Chicken Vindaloo from Scratch
Rogan Josh from Scratch
Chicken Korma from Scratch
Chicken Chilli Garlic Curry From Scratch
Keralan Lamb Stir Fry
Step by step photos…
- 4 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp Madras curry powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- ½ tsp each of paprika, cumin and coriander
- 200g tinned (canned) chopped tomatoes
- 125ml (1/2 cup) pineapple juice
- 3 tinned (canned) pineapple rings, cut into small pieces
- 700g (1 3/4 lb) cooked or raw chicken
- 1 tbsp tamarind sauce
- 180g (1 cup) cooked red split lentils
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Coriander to garnish
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and stir in the onions over a medium high heat. Fry the onions until soft and translucent. About 5 minutes should do the job.
- Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir it in. Fry for about 30 seconds and then add the ground spices, chopped tomatoes and 125ml (1/2 cup) water or unsalted chicken stock and the pineapple juice.
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool some. Then blend this sauce until smooth.
- Pour the blended sauce back into the pan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Add the chicken and tamarind sauce. Bring the cooked chicken up to heat or if using raw chicken, simmer in the sauce until cooked through. You might need to add more stock to aid in cooking.
- Continue simmering the sauce, only stirring if it is sticking to the pan. If any caramelises to the side of the pan, scrape it back into the sauce for added flavour.
- If your sauce is too thick, add more sauce or water. If too thin, cook it down some. Now add the cooked lentils and stir them into the sauce.
- To finish, add the chopped pineapple (if using) and the lemon juice and chopped coriander (cilantro). Season with salt to taste.
- Serve garnished with more chopped coriander (cilantro) if you like with white rice.