Prawn dhansak (serves: 5 – preparation time: 1.5hrs)

Mid-week entertaining can be a little bit tricky as you want to be able to talk to your guests instead of being tied to the kitchen.  For this reason when I have friends over in the middle of the week I tend only to cook meals that can bubble away gently in the slow cooker whilst I am at work, or that I can prepare in advance.  This week I had three friends over for supper on Wednesday, and knowing that time would not be on my side that evening I went for the prepare in advance option.

It was my housemate’s boyfriend that first got me into making Dhansak curry and I am delighted that he did!  Dhansak is a lentil based curry that is ever so slightly sweet and can be spiced up according to your own preference.  If prawns are not your thing, substitute with chicken thighs (de-skinned but preferably still on the bone to enhance the flavour) – just add them to the curry at the same time as the lentils and they will poach in the liquid.

One of the great advantages to this type of curry is that it all made in one pot, which saves on washing up – WIN!  I would strongly recommend giving this recipe a go as it is both hearty and fresh tasting, and dare I say it much tastier than a takeaway curry…  Enjoy!

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Prawn Dhansak 
Serves: 5
Preparation time: 1 ½ hrs


  • 2 onions (sliced)
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1″ fresh ginger (peeled and finely chopped)
  • 200g red lentils
  • 2tbsp vegetable bouillon (or a vegetable stock cube)
  • 750ml boiling water
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 2 pieces cinnamon bark (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder)
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 2tsp garam masala
  • 2tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • salt and pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp honey
  • 400g cooked king prawns
  • 1/2 fresh red chilli (finely chopped) *optional

Serve with:

  • Steamed rice
  • Chapati or nann
  • fresh coriander (roughly chopped)
  • 1 red chilli (finely chopped) 


  1. Place the onions, garlic, ginger and some vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed casserole pot and cook until they start to soften.
  2. Next prepare your spice mix, remove the outer shell from the cardamom pods and place in a pestle and mortar with the cumin and coriander, grind until you have a course powder. Add this spice mix, turmeric, garam masala, curry leaves and cinnamon bark to the pot and stir together.
  3. Add the lentils, boiling water and vegetable boullion/stock and stir. Turn the heat right down, cover with a lid and leave to gently cook for an hour stirring occasionally.
  4. Next add the honey and chilli how much you want to add will vary according to your own taste.
  5. Finally add the prawns and cook for a further 5 mins, taste and season/add more honey as needed.  Remove the curry leaves and cinnamon bark just before you are ready to serve.
  6. Serve the curry with rice, chapatti and freshly chopped chilli and coriander that your guests can add as they wish.

NOTE:  If you are making this dish up in advance then only do steps 1-3 and do steps 4-5 in the 30 mins before you are looking to serve.  Please note you will need to add roughly 150-200ml to the lentil base to loosen the mixture up if you have made this dish in advance as the lentils will carry on cooking whilst it cools down.



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