This recipe for a simple Parsi Masala dal was shared with me by my friend, Rhea Dalal.
We were over at our friend Rhea’s place for dinner and stay-over some weekends ago. She had taken a lot of effort to prepare an all-vegetarian spread covering her entire table, but for me the star of the dinner was a dal, which i could simply not get enough of. It had such a depth of flavour, something that lingered on your taste buds even after swallowing the delicious stuff mixed with fragrant basmati rice. I just HAD TO get the recipe from her. She was nice enough to share it with me, and that too without leaving out the secret ingredient 😛
In this case it was a ready Dhansak Masala. Her husband Kurush, is a renowned Parsi caterer and when he recommends a brand of dhansak masala, you don’t think twice about it. It is the Mangal Dhansak Masala. While masala brands like Everest, MDH and Budshah are advertised left, right and centre, you might never hear of these age-old family-owned brands.
I had never heard about or seen this brand of masalas, even though I’ m a girl who loves to linger around the spice aisles in the supermarkets. On my next visit I looked for this and I found it. The print on the box said ‘Since 1912‘, which only made me happier. If you know me well, I’m a sucker for all things vintage 🙂
If you do not find this masala at your grocer, you can prepare the dhansak masala from scratch, using the spices in your pantry. You’ll find the recipe here. Use only the dried spices, adding the ginger garlic paste fresh whenever you make the dal.
Edited to add: Mangal Masalas can be found online and they deliver all over India. Their chai masala is just amazing! (Jan 2016)
With the secret ingredient in hand, there was nothing to stop me from making this dal the very next day for lunch and then some three times each week since then. I’ve been trying it with every type of dal on my shelves, sometimes a combination of whatever is left, sometimes with the addition of greens like spinach or methi, and it turns out finger licking good each and every time, and we thank Rhea silently each time we enjoy a meal with this absolutely delicious homely dal!
Rhea's Parsi Masala Dal
- 1/2 cup masoor dal (skinned, split pink coloured lentils)
- 1/2 cup tur dal
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil ghee or
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 sprigs curry leaves fresh
- 1 onion medium , very finely chopped
- 1 tsp Masala Mangal Dhansak
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- coriander lots of finely chopped
- Wash the dals well and pressure cook them with 2- cups water till soft. Mash well with the back of a rounded ladle till smoothly pureed.
- In a wok, heat the oil / ghee. Temper with cumin seeds, then add in the curry leaves, ginger garlic paste. Stir for a minute or so on low heat.
- Add the onions and saute till golden brown. Stir in the dhansak masala with some water after which the mashed dal goes in.
- Adjust the consistency with some water, if this is very thick. Season with salt and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander.
Can’t wait to make this. I tried out the pumpkim dhansak recipe from your blog last year and everyone that ate it, simply loved it. 🙂 Quick question – do you use whole masoor or the pink masoor without the skin?
Sounds like a must try, Nandita. Is it found fairly easily in Bombay?
Pink masoor dal, without skin, split, will specify in the post too!ET- Yes, I got this in Food Bazaar (Big Bazaar, but a local kirana store should have it too
This is Rhea from Ryze… Dhansaak masala… I must see if I get this here 🙂
Ha baba, earlier also i gave u same answer:) read ur review on being terrorized!! I get scared to enter a restaurant where we are the only ppl!
must find this masala. thanks for the tip. looks delicious.
that recipe luks so nice..
ooh! I just love dhaansak! my aunt used to make it and we used to lich our fingers! thanks for bringing back some fond memories Nandita:) the dal looks delicious!
Hi Nandita, after my many kitchen disasters, I am always on the lookout for recipes that can be made on a regular basis which are easy, tasty and dont require me to be an expert chef. Think this recipe will be perfect. Will try it when I get back to Mumbai.
i love dhansak, but have never prepared it. i’ll ask my grocer if he can get this brand.
Dhansak… what is that? 🙁 That daal looks so different from the daals I know… time to expand my culinary horizons huh? Hope you are doing good darling… will catch up on email soon….
Just to let you know that I have tried several of your recipes with excellent results every time around. To name a few, the Matar Paneer, Parsi Dhansak, Thalagam, Pomegranate Rasam, Steamed Manchurian with Noodles spring to mind. Thanks for all the effort you put into making the recipes tasty as well as healthy. Will make this dal as soon as I find this particular brand of dhansak masala. I hope you are feeling a lot better and more hopeful about the future. If you enjoy reading, I recommend ” A New Earth” by Eckhard Tolle (Oprah’s current Book Club pick).Thanks once again!!!Smitha.
Hi Nandita,Must admit have eaten Dhansak only once in my life, but I loved it. This Mangal brand of masalas is quite popular in UK and I have a few diffrent masalas in my pantry and they are all very good.
oh! i have heard of dhansak and have been meaning to make it from scratch since I dont seem to ind it around here..lemme chk once again and then make this dal. ur review is too tempting to miss 🙂
Wow Nandita :)an innocent dinner party at home, a sudden idea to make daal, and look what happened!!!I’m so glad you enjoyed the D Daal…Rhea
I tried this with MDH dhanshak masala since that was the only one available and I must tell you I have made dal severaql times bit this tasted distinctly different…One suggestion is to squeeze one fresh lime at the end…It bring out the flavor even more…:)…Thanks for the recipe and I love your blog!
That’s a neat idea! And thanks dear, for providing the recipe for Dhansak masala too.
It looks delicious,thanks for the tip.
You have made me a very happy woman. A new masala to try out and with my favourite – dal? What is not to love! Thank you!
dhansak… sounds intresting.. will have to look for this masala…
Thanks all of you for leaving your sweet comments…hope you find this masala on your next visit to your supermarket! Or else you can always grind your own fresh, from the recipe link I have edited here.
First time I am hearing about Dhansak Masala and I am already very tempted to try this recipe out. Thanks for posting your secret. Not sure if I can find it in the place I live, so I am going to try your recipe for the masala too. Keep posting more recipes.
You know, Nandita, this post jumped out at me while I was browsing thru your blog-coincidentally, I had a fantastic-tasting dal last month, when we were in Pune on a weekend break, and it was cooked by a very dear family friend of ours who’s a Parsi aunty…I asked her what was the secret and she mentioned this EXACT same masala powder…and also told me where I could find it..So off I went to Dorabjee’s (which is Pune’s foremost and oldest store for imported stuff) and got myself a pack of this…but then it lay forgotten in my pantry and now I’m glad you’ve reminded me of it…Thanks for this post!
Karishma,Glad to hear from you. Open that packet, pronto. Adding a spoon to plain ol’ boring dal takes it to another level! And let me know how you liked it.CheersN
Hi Nandita, thanks for your reply…yes, I did make the dal today, for a family get-together thats happening tomorrow…It was great…I added some spinach leaves to the dal, fried everything together and pressure cooked it for 5 mins..was great! Thanks again…this masala powder will be a staple for me…unfortunately, I don’t think its available anywhere here in Hyderabad…checked in Hypercity, Q-mart, Fresh, More…nothing!
is this dhanshak masala available in chennai? if so.. where?