Curry is one of my favorite family meals to make. With so much flavor, it takes only a few ingredients to really bring a delicious meal to the dinner table. While this chicken Dhansak curry is a bit on the spicier side, it's still a perfect recipe to share on a busy week night. The addition of lentils adds fiber and protein, while also helping soak up some of that delicious sauce.
Chicken Dhansak Curry with Lentils
You may have already tried out some of my other favorite curries that we have shared here before, but this is a new one that we really love. I find that using lentils in the curry helps bulk up the meal and cut back on the amount of chicken needed. With a teenage boy at the dinner table, sometimes I need to find something to add to the mix to help keep him full. Lentils are a favorite.
Lentils are very traditional in Indian cuisine and I find them to be a handy addition to many of our meals. While certain ones add a bit of al dente texture, others are a bit mushier. No matter which lentil you choose, this is going to become a favorite on your meal plan.
What is Dhansak Curry Like?
This is described in most cookbooks and by most chefs as the hot, sweet, and slightly sour dish of India. It is a lovely thick rich curry with a classic tomato based sauce, but tends to be a bit more heavy handed with chili peppers and garam masala for heat. My version isn't as traditional as some, but still brings most of the flavors expected.
Some recipes include a bit of sugar or lemon juice to bring the sweet and sour, but for me, I find the tomato paste and curry paste to bring enough of those flavors to suit my tastes.
Is a Dhansak Curry Hot?
Yes. This is definitely a spicy recipe. If you don't enjoy spicier foods or prefer a curry that is mild, this one isn't the one for you. While you can cut back on the heat, it would no longer really be a Dhansak curry without the heat element.
If you want a mild curry that is easier for those with tender taste buds, I recommend our peanut chicken curry or the Thai coconut chicken curry instead.
What are the Best Lentils for Curry?
In this Dhansak curry, I love the red lentils. They are nice and creamy in texture and add just the right amount of thickness to the sauce. You can also pick up green lentils for this recipe for a nice texture if you prefer. There are many other lentil types on the market, but these are the two I always have in my pantry.
Do I Need to Pre-Cook My Lentils?
I highly recommend pre-cooking your lentils. While they could cook down in this sauce, they may not get tender enough to add the texture you want. You can find cooked lentils in your canned bean section at the market. Cooking them from scratch is also easy. Add them to salted water and cook for 25-30 minutes over medium heat until they are soft and tender.
For this meal, you could par-cook to get them slightly tender before popping into the curry. They would easily cook through while the sauce and chicken cook and the sauce thickens.
What Do You Serve with Chicken Curry?
Most curries are typically served with rice and naan. We also like to add a good sized portion of vegetables with our curries. Roasted broccoli and cauliflower are great for going with a richer sauce from the curry. Other options I enjoy are spinach or kale salads, sauteed mushrooms, and roasted carrots.
Feel free to add your own preferred sides to the curry. Just because rice is traditional doesn't mean you can't serve it with some noodles or even potatoes. Prepare this meal to suit your family and their food preferences.
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Garam masala
- Chili flakes
- Vegetable oil
- Ginger garlic paste
- Red lentils
- Red curry base
- Chicken broth
- Plain yogurt
How to Make Chicken Dhansak Curry with Lentils
Cook your lentils and set aside for use in the curry.
Wash and trim excess fat off the chicken thighs, and then cut into smaller chunks.
In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over high heat.
Place the chicken in the hot skillet and brown on both sides for 2-3 minutes then remove from the skillet and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium and then scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck on bits of chicken.
Add 1-2 tablespoons additional oil, then add in the garam masala, chili flakes, and salt and cook for 30 seconds.
Pour in the ginger-garlic paste, tomato paste, and red curry base. Stir everything to combine well.
Pour in the chicken broth, and whisk or stir until well-blended.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then add in the chicken and lentils, and reduce the heat to low.
Simmer for 30-minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, tender, and the sauce has thickened.
Remove from heat, add in the yogurt, and then serve with chopped cilantro.
More Curry Recipes
- Spicy Red Lentil Curry Recipe with Spinach
- 5-Ingredient Indian Potato Curry
- Classic Indian Green Curry
- Authentic Chicken Kahari Curry
- Better Than Takeout Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
- Creamy Indian Butter Chicken Recipe
If you are afraid of this being too spicy for your family, you can easily leave out the chili flakes, cut back on the garam masala, or even reduce the amount of red curry base. I do also love using a bit extra yogurt on top to mix into the curry if needed.
Flavorful Chicken Dhansak Curry with Lentils
Follow this simple step by step tutorial for making a flavor packed chicken Dhansak curry with lentils. This spicy curry recipe is a classic dish easy to put on the table in under an hour.
- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ⅔ cup red lentils, cooked
- 4 oz red curry base
- 1 ½ cup chicken broth
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- Slice chicken thighs into smaller pieces;
- Heat vegetable oil over high heat in a large skillet;
- Place the chicken into the hot skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned, they will not be fully cooked;
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside;
- Reduce the heat on the skillet, add an additional 1-2 tablespoosn oil and scrape any cooked on bits of food off the bottom of the skillet;
- Add the garam masala, chili flakes, and salt to the skillet and stir then cook for 30 seconds;
- Next, add in the ginger-garlic paste, tomato paste, and red curry base then stir to combine;
- Add in the chicken broth and combine with the sauce mixture and then place the chicken and lentils into the skillet;
- Stir well and then simmer for 30-minutes;
- Remove from heat, stir in the yogurt, and serve with your favorite sides and chopped cilantro on top.
Chicken breasts can be used if preferred for this recipe.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 397Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 148mgSodium: 1274mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 35g
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