THIS SUMPTUOUS CURRY COMES FROM THE PARSEES OF WEST INDIA, WHO EMIGRATED THERE FROM IRAN IN THE SEVENTH CENTURY. IT IS STRIKING FOR THE NUMBER OF DIFFERENT LENTILS USED, AS WELL AS VEGETABLES SUCH AS ENGLISH SPINACH, PUMPKIN AND EGGPLANT (AUBERGINE), VARIOUS SPICES AND TENDER LAMB.
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- Soak the yellow lentils, yellow mung beans and chickpeas in water for about 2 hours, then drain well.
- Put all four types of pulse in a saucepan, add 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) water, cover and bring to the boil. Uncover and simmer for 15 minutes, skimming off any scum that forms on the surface, and stirring occasionally to make sure all the pulses are cooking at the same rate and are soft. Drain the pulses and lightly mash to a similar texture.
- Cook the eggplant and pumpkin in boiling water for 10– 15 minutes, or until soft. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh and cut it into pieces. Peel the eggplant carefully (it may be very pulpy) and cut the flesh into small pieces.
- Heat the ghee or oil in a casserole dish or karahi and fry the onion, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes, or until lightly brown and softened. Add the lamb and brown for 10 minutes, or until aromatic. Add the cinnamon, cardamom pods, cloves, coriander, turmeric and chilli powder and fry for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to develop. Add 170 ml (5 ½ fl oz/⅔ cup) water, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the lamb is tender.
- Add the mashed lentils and all the cooked and raw vegetables to the pan. Add the lime juice and simmer for 15 minutes (if the sauce is too thick, add a little water). Stir well, then check the seasoning. The dhansak should be flavoursome, aromatic, tart and spicy.
Note: A karahi is a deep, wok-shaped cooking dish used in Indian and Balti cooking. It lends itself perfectly to one-pot meals and can be taken straight from the stove to the table for serving.