Lamb Dhansak

This is Mary Berry’s recipe, demonstrated on television in 2014 and widely available online. Lentils are an affordable ingredient that add substance and a ‘healthy’ veneer to the dish. Although I haven’t yet experimented with a vegetarian adaptation, you could presumably do this by replacing the beef stock with vegetable stock and using a firm tofu or quorn instead of the lamb. The tomato relish is a delicious accompaniment, alongside raitha which features whenever we have an Indian meal.

Serves 6


3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1kg diced lamb (shoulder or leg, or a mixture)
2 onions, diced
25g fresh ginger root, peeled but left whole
4 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
10 green cardamom pods
1½ tablespoons ground cumin
1½ tablespoons ground coriander
½ tablespoon ground turmeric
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
200ml beef stock – from a cube is fine
75g dried red lentils
3 tablespoons clear honey
salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan. Add half the lamb and fry until browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, then brown the other half of the lamb and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining oil to the pan. Add the onions and fry for 4-5 minutes until beginning to soften.
  4. Meanwhile, place the ginger, garlic and chilli in a small food processor and whiz until finely chopped.
  5. Bash the cardamom pods with the end of a rolling pin to split the husks, then remove the seeds and grind them to a fine powder using a pestle and mortar. Add to the pan along with the remaining spices and the garlic and ginger mixture.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan, along with the lamb. Bring to the boil, then cover and place in the oven to simmer for 1-2 hours until tender. Check the seasoning and serve.

Fresh tomato relish

1 red onion, finely chopped
6 ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
juice of ½ lemon
½ red chilli, chopped

To skin the tomatoes place in a bowl, cover with boiling water and wait for 1 minute. Cut a slit in each tomato (the skin should loosen immediately), then drain the water and peel the tomatoes. Halve them and  remove the small white/green core, followed by the seeds. Chop. Mix all the ingredients together and chill before serving.

Clockwise from top left: fresh tomato relish, lamb dhansak and raitha

Published by motherrach

Alongside this blog, which records tried and tested family favourites, I’m documenting on Instagram (mother_rach_cooks) my efforts in repertoire expansion.

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