The name is an indication of what the dish is about. Dhaan, means grains/pulses. Shaak, means vegetables. But what is left out in the name is the flavor that this dish packs. It has many exotic spices and a very flavorful gravy. The dish is from the North Western part of India and is influenced by Iranian flavors. This is a staple in Parsi households in the region around Mumbai though they probably make a primarily meaty version. This dish can be served as a stew or over rice or as dip with bread. I have taken liberties and have just used lentils, where as the original uses several different types of lentils and pulses. —vegetarianirvana
The lentils and Vegetables
cup of green lentils
cup of Pui lentils
cup of Masoor Dal [skinned and split lentils, which are orange in color]
1 and 1/2
cup finely chopped onions
1 and 1/2
cup roughly chopped ripe tomatoes
cup of peeled and diced calabassa/calabaza squash
cup peeled and diced winter melon
cup diced Indian or Japanese eggplant
cup diced Yukon Gold potatoes
cups [packed] baby spinach leaves
cups of water
For Dhaan Shaak Masala /Spice paste
tablespoon coriander seeds
tablespoon cumin seeds
dried red chillies, about 2 " long [Indian variety]
whole cardamom pods
teaspoon cinnamon powder or a couple of hefty pinches
large cloves of garlic
green chillies about 3" long [Indian variety]
tablespoon freshly chopped ginger
tablespoons of cilantro leaves [no stems please]
Mix all three lentils and soak in warm water for 1/2 an hour. This helps in digestion. Add1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook the soaked lentils in 2 and a 1/2 cups of water till mushy. Add more water or drain excess as the case maybe.
Meanwhile make a smooth paste with the 10 ingredients listed under Dhaan Shaak Masala. Add a little water if necessary.
Powder the 3 ingredients listed under Dry Masala Garnish
While the lentils are cooking, melt the butter and let it brown a little. Add the chopped onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add the spice paste/Dhaan Shaak Masala and cook till eveything is bubbling, about a minute or so.Then add the all the vegetables and tomatoes and a teaspoon of salt. Stir well to incorporate and add 1/2 cup of water and let it come to a boil. Set the flame to between low and medium and put a tight fitting lid and let vegetables steam cook for about half an hour or till the potatoes are done but not mushy. Check the vegetables a few times and stir them while cooking so they cook evenly and don't burn at the bottom. Remember to put the lid back on.
When the vegetables are done add the cooked lentils, adjust for salt add 2 cups of water and cook for another 10 minutes till everything is well incoporated. Adjust consistancy, by drying the lentils out if you want it thicker or add more water if you want it runnier. Then add the spinach leaves, roughly chopped. Mix and turn the stove off put the lid back on to rest for 15-20 minutes.
Garnish with chopped cilantro just before serving and serve with lemon wedges and Dry Masala Garnish .
The calabassa and winter melon and eggplant [see pictures] are available at Indian and Asian Groceries. You can substitute acorn squash and potatoes for calabassa and squash.