(Dhaan + Shak or Rice + Cooked Vegetables)
The name dhansakh implies rice eaten with the famous daal cooked with veggies in it. The rice is not plain white steamed rice but is a rich caramelized rice, cooked with a mix of whole spices. The daal of course is famous..
So here’s how the two are made-
For the rice-
Good quality Basmati rice, washed
whole spices- Bay leaves, cassia Bark, Cloves, pepper corns, Black cardamom (elcha), Star Anise, Javitri (mace)
In a pan make caramel with the sugar. About 1 tbsp of sugar for a cup of rice. Add a cup of water to the caramel moments before it burns. Take off the heat and keep aside. You want a liquid, not thick hard caramel.
Make rice as usual adding the caramel water and whole spices, salt (optional)and a tablespoon of oil or ghee. The rice should be brownish in colour.
Garnish with long fried onions.
Brinjals, small pink ones
baby methi sprouts
Dhansakh masala powder
Kairi Sambhar powder (not south Indian sambar masala) Available at Motilal masala, Grant rd, East, available under the Mangal brand.
Wash equal quantities of both daals, about a cup each. Add chopped pumpkin (200gm), brinjals (200gm), spring onions (1/2 bunch), one bunch methi sprouts, half a tsp of haldi, salt and pressure cook with enough water.
Once cooked, puree the whole thing.
In a kadai heat ghee and add the curry leaves and the masala powders, and fry. Add chopped tomatoes and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Smash up the tomatoes while cooking. Add the mashed daal puree to this and mix well. Add water if required. Let it come to a good rolling boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Traditionally dhansakh is made with mutton, though chicken is often used these days. To use either, marinate the meat in ginger-garlic paste, salt, and braise before pressure cooking along with the daals and veggies. (Remove before pureeing). Alternatively you can cook the meat separately and add to the cooked daal/veggie puree later. But the first way tastes far better!
Dhansakh is not a celebration dish, contrary to popular belief. Traditionally dhansakh is served on the fourth day after a funeral.
Of course, it is not restricted to such sombre occasions and is often on the menu for a family Sunday lunch :)