Vegetarian / Vegetable Parsi Dhansak

Pumpkin is quite a staple in my parent's home, where it is used generously in Kootu (Gravied vegetables), Sambhar, Thalagam etc. Not being too fond of the vegetables on the sweeter side, pumpkin is usually not on my shopping list. Not unless I want to make Dhansak or Bisi Bele Huli Anna.

The pumpkin used in this is the golden variety  which is more nutritious and anti-oxidant rich compared to the white pumpkin. White pumpkin is used in Avial- which is one of my favourites.

Parsis are members of the Zoroastrian community that migrated from Persia to India over 1000 years ago to escape religious persecution. Most of them concentrated in the state of Gujarat, adapting the local language and culture as their own. Their cuisine is a unique blend of the vegetarian Gujarati food and the meaty cuisine of Persia. Dhansak is one of their much-loved dishes, which is usually made with lentils, vegetables and meat into a spicy curry that is had with brown rice.

While the meat loving Parsis will label 'Vegetarian Dhansak' an abomination, vegetarian that I am, my dhansak is meatless but any meat eater would confirm that it is as tasty :) (Yeah, I hope)

Dhansak is ready!

The list of ingredients is a bit lengthy, but except for a little prep work, you will find most of the stuff in a regular Indian kitchen.

There are three parts to this recipe.
-Cooking the lentils
-Preparing the masala
-Cleaning and cutting the vegetables

Lentils required:

1/3 cup tur dal
1/3 cup masoor dal
1/3 cup moong dal

Mix the dals. Wash them thoroughly 3-4 times. Keep aside.


Use the golden variety. You will need around 200 gms of the same. Remove the skin with a heavy knife, scrape out the seeds. Chop the pumpkin into 1" cubes. Don't cut it any smaller, or they will get totally mashed with the dal on pressure cooking.

Pressue cook the dals with the pumpkin pieces for around 3 whistles.

Meanwhile prepare the masala and vegetables.

For dhansak masala:

6 cloves garlic
1" piece fresh ginger
6-7 red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1" cinnamon stick
2 green cardamoms
4 pepper corns

Saute the above ingredients other than ginger and garlic, on a low flame until fragrant, about a minute or two. Cool for a few minutes and grind to a fine paste along with ginger-garlic. You can add around 1/4 cup of water to assist in grinding. Keep the masala aside.


2 medium onions-sliced
2 tomatoes-chopped
1 small bunch methi (fenugreek) leaves- cleaned and chopped finely to make a loosely packed cup

Bringing together the masala and vegetables


Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large pan. Fry the onion slices with a few grains of sugar (less than 1/8th tsp). Sugar makes the onions brown faster. Saute for 3-4 minutes till nicely browned.

Add the masala paste and saute for 3-4 minutes, until it emits a rich aroma.

Put in the chopped tomatoes, chopped fenugreek leaves. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until tomatoes are cooked and leaves have wilted.

At this stage, add the boiled dals and pumpkin. Add around 2 tsp of salt. Stir well and check for spices and salt. In case the tomatoes aren't sour enough, you can add a teaspoon of tamarind pulp.

Serve hot with plain rice or traditional Parsi Brown Rice.

Lap it up with rice

This recipe makes enough dhansak to serve 6 people. Even if you are just 2 at home, it is worth making and saving half of it for later. It tastes better after the flavours have sunk in for a day or so. It will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, kept in a tightly sealed box.

The day I'd made this, we had a friend come in for dinner. He remarked that he was getting to eat dhansak after ages as the authentic recipe isn't really vegetarian and he was a vegetarian himself. In case you are a person who'd love to make the real meaty version, check out the link below for Authentic Parsi cuisine.

You will find many delicious Parsi Recipes here. Eggs, Potatoes and meat are their favourites though!

This is my submission for the FMR - Pumpkin hosted by multi-talented Meeta of What's for lunch honey?


Meeta said...

Mmmmhhh! Nandita, that looks so deliciously creamy and healthy. If I ever come to Bombay to visit you, please make this for me OK dearie?

Vaishali said...

I like Dhansak, Nandita. Also because it is healthy. With various lentils and vegetables put together, it is nutrition and taste going hand in hand. :)

Krithika said...

Looks mouth watering. I am definitely going to try this. Have a pumpkin sitting in my refrigerator.

Hema said...

Hi Nandita,

Dhansak looks yummy. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Usha said...

A new recipe to me. Will try next time i pick up pumpkin.

Gonna try the potato chips today.

Lera said...

nandita, your dhansak is a must try ...a combo of dhals is definitely my kind of a dish! btw, just saw your profile pic,you look beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Great, one more way to cook pumpkin! And one that looks absolutely delicious. This will be cooked tom for sure. I have that whole pumpking (I picked up on the way from the VOF trip!) sitting in the fridge. Perfect. Shall report back.

shilpa said...

I have heard this name before but never tried it. Will try it soon. thanks.

Nandita said...

Ooo thanks a lot dear ladies. I'm drowning under your kind words :)
I can vouch for this wonderfully healthy yummy dish. If you ever make it for guests, make sure you have print outs of the recipe to make your life easier ;0

Nandita said...

Meeta dear- you have my word, I shall make this for you ..Muah!

Foodie's Hope said...

Looks sooo delicious I am going to move in with you, N!! Yo N's husband! start looking for another pad Man!! :))))

veggiedelight said...

This is so rich way beyond the regular pumkin sambar. With so many pumpkin dishes around I can sure store a big one now. Thnx for the yummy Dhansak....

sandhya said...

hi nandita ,this is the first time i am seeing your blog - it is awesome...I live in canada and Mmmm..looking at all those pictures ,makes me miss home and family more than ever..Thank you for sharing your recipes.

Anonymous said...

The Dhansak sounds and also looks realy yummyyy....I so want to ruch to the grocery store and get a nice lil pumpkin to try it out :-) Lovely pics too...

Nandita said...

Asha- your comment really cracked me up! Actually there are several ppl in waiting list before you- Hahaha !

Veggiedelight- I always feel that we veggies dont really miss out on much, all it requires is a little adaptation and we can convert any non veg recipe into veg-with a vengance! Non veggies there- no ill feelings please :) After all, you too can make this into a meaty dish...

Sandhya- a warm welcome to you on saffron trail...I'm sure you miss family, but you can always create a homey feeling wherever you are...Do you have a blog too? I don't see a link here. Catch you soon!

Priya- fortunately in India the vendor gives us as small or big a slice of pumpkin- I end up buying not more than 1/2 a kg. But with the cakes, muffins and other goodies, looks like I wont mind buying a whole pumpkin myself !

sra said...

you mayn't believe it, nandita, but i bought pumpkin yesterday after seeing your pix. i'm a regular visitor to your blog, will link soon. Thanks for noticing the doodle - that's supposed to be a self-portrait :)

Darshini Ashok said...

Your Dhansak looks reaaally yummy and very nutritious as well.... surely will try it soon and let you know how it came out.

Nandita said...

SRA-thanks, I'm flattered girl! And do show your real pic someday so that I can tell you how good you are at doodling-hahaha

Darshini- Will wait to hear from you!

Saffron said...

Looks good Nadita! I've had vegetarian dhansak once before, but don't recall it having any veggies. It pretty much tasted just like dal. Your version sounds yummm!


Monisha said...

Hi Nandita -
Pumpkin Dhansak looks delish - your recipe is in perfect time for all the bright orange pumpkins that will be greeting us in the supermarket, now I'll have a recipe in mind for them !

paz said...

Your recipe looks like a winner! Looks great!


Nandita said...

Saffron- Most places make it with Meat or atleast chicken. The veggie version is reallyhealthy and wholesome! Thanks.

Monisha- Yes dear, do let me know if you liked it.

Paz- Thanks and hugs to you to :X

Krithika said...

I tried this last night. Tasted fabulous ! Thanks so much for this recipe, N.

Prema Sundar said...

Hi nanditha,
lovely colourful pics.. must try one . thanks for the recipe.

maltese parakeet said...

can't wait to try this. one question though, how much water goes in with the dals & pumpkin in the pressure cooker? forgive me if this seems like a basic question, but i'm just starting to learn indian cooking ... thanks to wonderful blogs like yours!

Nandita said...

Krithika- That was fast- wonderful enthusiasm for good food dear girl!

Prema- You welcome!

Maltese- Well, it's 1 cup of dal in all and around 2 cups of chopped pumpkin. After washing dals thoroughly, you may pressure cook them in 3 cups of water as the pumpkins will release their water content too. It also depends on the type of cooker you have. Please try cooking with 3, and feel free to add some more if you feel it will burn. Pressure cooking is mostly by trial, so you'll definitely figure out. It's nice to find people interested in Indian cooking. Makes blogging worthwhile :)

johanna said...

this looks soooo delicious! it just shows me what we missed out on when our indian cooking in london didn't materialise - well, there's always a next time, right?

Nandita said...

Im still so sorry about that Johanna! But there's always the internet, until we do meet up in real- I'll be there soon- there's still a lot to explore in London and around!

fieryblaster said...

tried ur dhansak. was really great. it served as a wonderful accompaniment with chapathis too. thanks for the Recipe.

Nandita said...

Hi Fiery...Im so happy you liked the dhansak and thanks a ton for that lovely feedback!

maltese parakeet said...

nandita, thanks for the guidance on the water (i think three cups was just about right) and for sharing this recipe. i tried it tonight and loved it! check it out on my blog: peanut butter etouffee.

Prema Sundar said...

Hi Nanditha,
I tried ur parsi dhansak and it turned out great. I dont cook pumpkin at all and now this dish is going to be in my regular cooking.thanks for sharing a wonderful recipe..

Padmaja said...

Hey Nandita
Love ur blog, You have wonderful notes for each and every dish. I have ur blog visited few times, finally I got time to leave comment:). This dish looks tempting and really healthy. BTW are you still accepting breakfast entry's. If so please lemme know.

Arundathi said...

Hey - i just finished making and eating this - it was delicious!!! i absolutely love dhansak and this was easy to make too. i always thought it was tough! thank you! :) If you dont mind, I've linked to this recipe in my blog

zlamushka said...

hi Nandita,

I just made my dhansak masala and tried various recipes. Yours was super delish. I hope you dont mind I linked mine to yours :-)

jayasree said...

Made ur pumpkin dansak today. Loved it. Had one full pumpkin to be used. Was searching for a pumpkin recipe and found in your blog. This yummy dish is going to be a regular in cooking. Thanks for the recipe

Swathi said...

Made the dhansak yesterday, it was super delicious. I make the south indian kootu often and this dish surely is a great variation.

Love your blog, I have tried quite many of the tambram recipes from here, liked all of them. Thank you so much.

Roopa said...

hi nandita,

i am a south indian married to a south indian raised in mumbai..i tried this recipe today,my hubby was in all praises for this recipe when he tasted was really yummy and your blog is such a gift to me...cos it has both north and south indian recipes..thank you..i am glad i found your blog!

anubhavati said...


first time on your blog and loved it. The Dhansak looks perfect and so does the colours on the plate. Lovely...


Anu said...


Thanks for this wonderful recipe. I made this dhal today and hubby dear loved it. The dhal came out exactly like the one in your picture. I wanted to send u a pic of my dal as a note of thanks.

Wzorin said...

Id love to try this recipe but I cant get fresh fenugreek leaves anywhere.Ive got dried fenugreek though.Can I use it as well? And how? thanks for your answer...

Shilpa said...

I made this today n it turned out super yummy.....even my neighbor was all praises for it.
Next on list is pumpkin spiced coffee cake. Will let u know.
Thank for posting such nice recipe.

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