Rice Matters: Brown Dhansaak Rice

The official line is that I was giving you guys a break from my almost daily postings in October; but, in reality, I was perfecting The Art of Whining. I whined mainly about too much work that led to too much pain. I am still in pain and have already started complaining about how I will miss the start of the ski season, even though I don't ski. See how good I am at it now?

Because of this constant pain, my culinary escapades have suffered more than a little bit. Rice has become my go-to for most meals. Steamed rice, phodnicha bhath, jeera rice; whichever way I could make it, I did. That brought me face-to-face with the brown rice that is made with the famous Parsi dish, dhansaak. I considered winging it but then decided to turn to 101 Parsi Recipes, by the queen of Parsi cuisine herself, Jeroo Mehta. And she did not disappoint.

The definitive Parsi cookbook

Brown Dhansaak Rice

  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • salt to taste

Don't you want to dig in?

  1. Wash the basmati rice in several changes of water and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot or saucepan; add cinnamon and cloves when the oil is hot.
  3. Add sliced onions and cook till they have softened.
  4. While the onions are cooking, heat the sugar in a small saucepan till it melts and caramelizes, taking care that it does not burn. A nice dark brown color is desireable.
  5. Add 1/3 cup warm water to the melted sugar a little bit at a time, taking care not to burn yourself as it will sizzle and foam as you do.
  6. Drain the rice and add it to the pot with the onions. Stir the rice and fry it with the onions for a few minutes.
  7. Add the sugar solution to the rice and stir well.
  8. Add the remaining water (5 and 2/3 cups) and salt.
  9. Bring to a rolling boil, cover tightly and lower the heat to medium low. Cook at this heat until all the water is absorbed and the rice has cooked, usually between 15-20 minutes or so.
  10. Fluff the rice and serve right away with any spicy dish with a sauce.

Look, Jen, I prettied with some cilantro!

  • Jeroo Mehta's original recipe calls for 2 cups of rice. I find this a little too sweet for my tastebuds, so I upped the rice to 3 cups. Perfect for us!
  • Taste the water after adding salt. If it's not salty, then you need more salt. As the rice cooks, the salt will be absorbed by the grains and it will be just right. Adding salt after the rice is cooked is an option but it doesn't taste the same.
  • I have served this with what I call the-rest-of-the-world chhole, a spin on Anita's Punjabi chhole recipe, and it was appreciated. The next time, I served it with rajma and that worked, too. I will probably be making this again for Thanksgiving, but not with dhansaak - the pain, remember?

Yup, I scored!

As soon as I can wiggle my toes a litle bit more, I am planning to make Jeroo Mehta's Lamb chops with green masala. For both those things, I can't wait!

And what of IFR: Memories, you ask? You do ask, don't you? The round up is coming next week, I promise, with all of the four valid entries I received. What can I say? Congeniality was never one of my virtues.


Soma said...

I am going to make this sometime.


Kitt said...

Yum! That is some awesome rice, and it sounds quite doable when you spell it out!

I'd like to hear about the chhole sometime, too.

Srivalli said...

That looks great Manisha, how lovely! and yeah I was thinking abt the event too..looking fwd to that!

TheCooker said...

An autographed copy? Lucky you.

Finla said...

Thankyou for the info about this book. I think it is always difficult to find a good Parsi cooking book.
Lucky you getting a signed book.

Anita said...

Such a show off! Autographed book!

I never thought of caramel rice - very interesting and I can imagine it pairing very well with rajma. It really is the season for beans and rice - we are all doing it! Even you with all the 'air' stories and beans...

Yes, what about the roundup. Slacker, in addition to the name you were called in the first sentence here. I did try to desist from "..." and "!!!", as well as show restraint for ':-)'...I do hope I made the cut!

Nandini Vishwanath said...

Ooh, I've heard so much about Dhansak and not made it. And my aunt had that book, but didn't do much with it, as far as I can remember!

I shall try this in Dec when *everything* in the world is going to be tried :D when my sis is down here. All of us are big eaters and she is starving for some good desi khana. So!

Sayantani Mahapatra Mudi said...

have heard about dhansak but never tasted it. thanks for the info on the book. would love to try Parsi cuisine sometime.

TKW said...

It looks really interesting! What's on top of it?

Cynthia said...

Oh yes, I want to dig in. I just checked Amazon for the book only to found out that it is out of print :( darn!

Unknown said...

I caramelize chicken all the time but never rice. This is a must try.

Nirmala said...

oh dear, is that the back pain ? Please do take care. And this brown dhansaak looks interesting with the caramelized sugar. That photo too is very pretty.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I made a dhansak long, long ago, but never stumbled across this recipe for an accompanying rice- priceless! And aren't you lucky to have this autographed book- how'd you meet her?

And look at the silver pieces on the cover!

And when will you be unveiling the rest-of-the-world chhole? :-)

This post of yours demandeth questions you know...

Anonymous said...

BTW, nigh see lan tro.

Indian Food Rocks said...

Soma, you must!

Kitt, it's much easier than chivda, trust me! The one you have tasted is the 3 cup version. Chhole coming up soon. I am probably making it again this week, with this rice.

Srivalli, thank you! Did you send me another entry? I can't find it.

TheCooker, sometimes I am lucky, yes!

Happy cook, this is one of the best Parsi cookbooks around. It's also the first.

Anita, but of course! I now have a total of two autographed cookbooks! Yay, me! Round-up is coming this week.

Nandini, dhansaak without meat is not quite dhansaak but you won't know the difference so go for it. I used to make it very often using a - gasp! - Tarla Dalal recipe. From one of her first cookbooks - before she hired mice to churn out recipes for her.

A Homemakers Diary, Parsi cuisine is delicious!

TKW, rajma or dark red kidney beans in an onion+tomato+ginger+garlic sauce. And some garam masala.

Cynthia, I believe it is still available in bookstores in India.

WizzyTheStick, and I have never caramelized chicken! I guess I will have to try that!

Nirmala, yes but I am on the road to recovery. Enough with the whining.

Cardamomandotherstuff, seriously? Can't have dhansaak without this rice! And, I am very well connected, you know! Just cos I don't stand on rooftops telling everyone about it like I did with this post dot dot dot grinning smiley! Chhole coming soon. Auntie Pee will not approve but what-the-hey, all my friends did!

Indian Food Rocks said...

velchi-dada, your numbers are begging to be severed.

musical said...

I was just wondering if the sweetness is mild or overpowers the taste of onions? Minus the sugar, this recipe is very much like Punju and Sindhi versions of brown rice! I'd love to try this recipe if ti is not overtly sweet.

J said...

Thank you for telling about this book. I ordered it online and got it today. So eager to try out some authentic parsi stuff.

Anita said...

...and now I fear for chhole dot dot dot

Pelicano said...

Oh, don't worry Auntie! My rendition cancels hers out dot dot dot

Sumi said...

I hear of Dhansak everywhere nowadays...I think its high time I try this dish out.

RV @ Food for 7 Stages said...

wow.. I want to dig in right away :) It looks so delectable..

Unknown said...

that looks different. I must try that one...

lose fat stomach

bee said...

hey manisha, hope all's well. that looks absolutely delectable.


Unknown said...

Looks delicious!

Anshika said...

Lucky you !! Got a great book and made a lovely dish along with the fabulous click.

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Shilpa said...

its rajma and brown dhansak rice for lunch.

- shilpa from flickr