Dhansak recipe

(190 ratings)

This succulent & tender dhansak recipe is a classic Indian curry that combines juicy lamb & soft lentils to make a mouth-watering dish full of spice

Preparation Time15 mins
Cooking Time1 hours 45 mins
Total Time2 hours
Cost RangeCheap

This is a North Indian dish made with lamb and lentils. Often more than one variety of lentils is used but to keep it simple this recipe just has the one – red split lentils which and cook down to a lovely thick puree. This basic recipe work well with chicken too, use skinned chicken thigh fillets and simmer for only 45-50 mins.


  • 3 onions, peeled
  • 1 small green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2tsp freshly grated root ginger
  • 3tbsp vegetable oil
  • 900g shoulder of lamb, cut into chunks
  • 2tsp each ground turmeric, ground coriander and ground cumin
  • 200g red split lentils
  • 900ml vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Coriander leaves, to garnish




  1. Roughly chop two of the onions and place in a food processor or blender with the chilli, garlic and ginger and 2tbsp water. Process to a thick paste.
  2. Heat 2tbsp of the oil in a large flameproof casserole and fry the lamb, in batches, over a medium-high heat until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add the onion paste to the pan and fry for about 10 mins until softened and golden brown. Stir in the spices and cook for 1-2 mins.
  4. Return the lamb to the dish with the lentils and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then cover and simmer very gently for 1-1¼ hrs until the lamb is tender. Stir occasionally adding a little extra stock, if needed.
  5. Thinly slice the remaining onion. Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion gently for 8-10 mins until soft and golden brown. Serve the curry topped with the fried onion and garnished with coriander leaves.
Top Tip for making Dhansak

For a cooling raita to serve with this curry mix ½ grated cucumber, 2tbsp fresh chopped mint, a squeeze of lemon juice and 1tsp salt into 300ml natural yogurt.