An authentic Parsi feast: Rice and lentils with prawn sauce

Published: August 25, 2013

Dhandal patia is ideal for family gatherings. Kids can enjoy the daal and rice while the adults enjoy the same with spicy prawn sauce. PHOTO: DILAIRA MONDEGARIAN

Good food, good health and a good life – this is the profound Parsi belief. For us, good food doesn’t necessarily translate into an elaborate meal; it generally refers to a more simplistic and balanced approach to cooking. Since we Parsis like to feast often, we come up with easy-to-prepare meals that make our special occasions even more special.

To get your celebration started, here is how to prepare dhandal patia (rice with lentils, topped with a spicy sauce).

Rice with lentils and spicy prawn sauce

Ingredients for daal (lentils):

½ kg toovar/arhar daal (yellow split peas).

2 tsp salt

1 tbsp turmeric

1 pod garlic, cleaned

1 tbsp cumin

750 ml water

1 large onion, finely sliced


Add daal, water, salt and turmeric in a pot and cook till tender.

Remove from stove and sieve it.

Put on stove and allow to thicken according to taste.

Fry the sliced onion, finely chopped garlic and fry in oil till it turns light gold.

Add cumin and remove from stove.

Ingredients (prawn sauce):

750 gms prawns, de-veined

8 oz tomatoes

8 oz onions

4 tbsp oil

1 tsp salt

½ tbsp turmeric

2 tsp curry powder

1-2 tsp chilli powder

2-3 lemons, juice of

1 pod garlic, cleaned and ground

1 tsp cumin, ground

2 tbsp coriander seeds, ground


Wash the prawns, rub in salt and keep aside.

Steam the tomatoes, skin them and cut into small pieces.

Heat the oil and fry the chopped onions till they turn light brown.

Add the tomatoes and stir for a while. Add ground masala and powdered spices and cook.

When the gravy is ready, add the prawns and allow to simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Add lemon juice according to taste.

Ingredients (boiled rice):

1 kg basmati rice

32 oz water

1 tbsp salt

2 tbsp oil


Add rice, water, oil and salt in a pot and put on the stove, covered, for about 10 minutes. Then bring the flame down until water is fully absorbed and rice is cooked.

Serve all three dishes together. To eat, pour daal over the rice and top it with the spicy prawn sauce.

Dhandal patia is ideal for family gatherings (the above recipe can serve up to 7 to 8 people). It also saves you the hassle of preparing a separate dish for children who have a very low tolerance for spicy food, as they can simply enjoy the rice with daal. Also, the dish is versatile so if you prefer fish over prawns, you can go ahead and use 1kg fish in the above recipe instead of the prawns.

So if you are one of those who dread hosting parties with the thought of toiling away in the kitchen, this might just be the perfect recipe for you.

Happy Parsi feasting!


Dilaira Dubash

Dilaira Dubash

The author is the Commissioning Editor at the Express Tribune with a penchant for food writing. She tweets @DilairaM

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nandita.

    Parsi food is popular in Indian cities like Mumbai and Pune which have a huge parsi population – parsi cafes and bakeries are frequented by many living in these cities… please do post more recipes (vegetarian recipies if possible for vegetarians like me ) Recommend

  • Shahid

    Dilaria, Pl.continue contributing more. Thank you for all the community/social work Parsis do. For whatever reasons regrettably their population is decreasing. Write also about other aspects of Parsi life. cheers. Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    My Dad used to make fabulous “Kolmi no Patio” to a standard my Mom never could match, of course leaving the kitchen in such a mess, to my Moms consternation. Even today his grand children pester him to make it for them, though he is on the wrong side of Eighty. Recommend

  • Rashid

    I thought parsis dont eat meat..Recommend

  • Atif

    I will surely going to try it..Recommend

  • Dr.N

    @ Author

    Are you Parsi ..You have an unusual and beautiful name. My best friend is married to a Parsi doctor.I thought Parsis were just ‘bombay wallahs’.Never realized they actually were refugees from Iran,who came 1400 years ago.It’s amazing to me how they preserved their identity for 14 centuries !
    I love the Parsi culture,food and the people..there are a lot of movies about Parsis too-‘Little Zizou’,Saif Ali Khans ‘Being Cyrus’…Recommend

  • Yousaf Hyat

    Thank you for the recipe .I always thought that ancient civilizations like the Parsi ,Chinese and Hindu have all stumbled upon a certain way of life a certain maturity in business and finance in tolerance and modesty which others are still looking for .Your recipe attests to that …simplicity enshrouded in a tidal wave of flavor …Fantastic .Recommend

  • Parvez

    The Parsees love many things : they love to eat, they love to drink, they love to laugh, they love to cuss ( the men folk ) without meaning it, they love to celebrate no matter whose celebration it is, they love to eat but I’ve said that and it could along with the rest be said all over again if one is to understand these wonderful people.

    On one of our live cooking channels on TV we have a very popular Parsee host named Zarnak Sidhwa and she conducted a ‘ Parsee Food week ‘ which I believe was a smash hit.

  • nassi

    I don’t know much about the Parsi community in our country but every time I eat dhansak, I feel a real gratitude towards the innovative people who came up with this wonderful dish.

    I prepare my dhansak with a method and selection of ingredients drawn from various recipes that I came across on the internet. It would be really interesting to hear about the authentic Parsi recipe for this dish. Recommend

  • Shahid

    Thanks, will ask my wife to try it. And if she doesn’t want to, I will make it. Please write some more Parsi recipes.Recommend

  • expaki

    ET Miss Mondegarian ! very kind of you to share Zoroastrian culture and food tradition. HOWEVER Please allow me, remembering and honoring THE CHUDHARY of Karachi, who never liked to be called PARSI. He was great son of Pakistan and he was ZOROASTRIAN. anyone who does not know about the MOST ANCIENT faith on earth, should learn by its REAL NAME and not as Parsi. Regards and respect to daughter of my old man.Recommend

  • Dr.N

    @ Author

    Are you Parsi,you have an unusual and beautiful name. My best friend is married to a Parsi doctor.I thought Parsis were just ‘bombay wallahs’.Never realized they actually were refugees from Iran,who came 1400 years ago.It’s amazing to me how they preserved their identity for 14 centuries !
    I love the Parsi culture,food and the people..there are a lot of movies about Parsis too-‘Little Zizou’,Saif Ali Khans ‘Being Cyrus’…Recommend

  • Napier Mole

    Thanks for this contribution. I would like to know if there is an outlet in Karachi where one could savor this and any other typical Parsi meals. If there is none, there should be one. Would also request the writer to keep contributing other nuggets about Parsi life. For one, Parsis being one of the earliest and continuous living denizensof this city, must be hoarding a wealth of memories and sudio visual material about Karachi which this writer may perhaps access and share with the readers of this newspaper.Recommend

  • boco

    Looks yum! Thank you for sharing and please continue doing so – perhaps an authentic falooda recipe next time? :)Recommend

  • Parvez

    I did comment…….because I think Parsee food and the Parsees themselves are great, but for some reason all my comments are going up in smoke.

  • Insaan

    Is prawn same thing as shrimp?Recommend

  • Sarah

    An easy and great recipe! Looks delicious! Will definitely try cooking it. Please continue sharing recipes with us :) Recommend

  • PAD

    OMG! I love this food, thank you so much dilaira for sharing with us the recipe. I had this one at my friends house, just by looking at it i was imagining myself eating it and when i did, i was in heaven. God im so hungry again.

    Thank you dilaira, do post more please.Recommend

  • Global Nomad

    yes almost similar just the difference in their sizes. For cooking both serves the same purpose.Recommend

  • SJ

    Very nice and easy recipe, will definitely try it. I hope you won’t mind giving me another way of taking the skin off from tomatoes. Boil water and take it off the stove, make a ‘X’ sign with sharp knife at the back of the tomatoes and soak them in hot water. Leave them there for 2 or 3 minutes and then rinse hot water out and fill the pan with cold water from tap. Now all you need to do is peal them from the ‘X’ and skin will come off easily. Recommend

  • Parvez

    @expaki: Possibly you are refering to Ardeshir Cowasjee ??……….but a rose by any other name would smells just as sweet.

  • sam

    @ Dilaira
    Really its very simple and tempting recipe, prawn sauce is good idea with daal chawalRecommend

  • Insaan

    @expaki: ZOROASTRIAN. anyone who does not know about the MOST ANCIENT faith on earth, should learn by its REAL NAME and not as Parsi. Regards and respect to daughter of my old man.

    Zoroastrian is about 3000 yr old religion. Parsi is the name Zoroastrians use in India. Zoroastrians moved to India to escape Muslim prosecution in Iran, birthplace of Zoroastrian religion. Zoroastrians were considered Dhimmi and had to pay Zajiya tax.

    Crucial to the present-day survival of Zoroastrianism was a migration from the northeastern Iranian town of “Sanjan in south-western Khorasan”, to Gujarat, in western India. The descendants of that group are today known as the Parsis—”as the Gujaratis, from long tradition, called anyone from Iran”—who today represent the larger of the two groups of Zoroastrians. (WIKIPEDIA)Recommend

  • expaki

    @Parvez: DEFINITELY who else sir :-) you right. regards sir.Recommend

  • expaki

    @Insaan: Sir I prefer to call Muslim a Muslim and not an Arabi. That was my point, rest you are right. Regards sir.Recommend

  • Ali

    Thanks so much for this recipe, i will defo try as dahl is one of my favourites, acha, i never ever thought of the shrimp combo with the dahl… sounds great!

    Please post some more recipes, i would love to try!

    Do you have any roti recipes?Recommend

  • Abbas Ali

    My wife told me to cook this dish for next sunday and thank YOU dilaira for the recipe. Keep them coming i will surely surprise my wife and kids with your recipe :)

    P.S: Can i ask for more parsi dishes ? which i have eaten at my friends place and just know their names.Recommend

  • Gulnaz Mondegarian

    Dilaira, it is wonderful to see the famous Parsi recipe on the blog. I hope many will try cooking it. You must post more of these authentic dishes so that it is tried and enjoyed by all our friends.Recommend

  • Gp65

    Thank you for the lovely blog. Brought back memories.
    I had many Parsi friends growing up in Mumbai and love their food. Besides the food, Parsis despite their small numbers have contributed greatly to India in all field be it political where Dadabhai Naoroji was the first President of the Indian National Congress to Jamshedji Tata who is a pioneer in India’s industrialisation. Some of the top lawyers are also Parsi as was our immediate former CJ.

    @Dr. N
    Parsis fleeing oppression came to Gujrat for shelter. The king sent a glass full of milk to the Parsi leader implying that there was no room left in the country. The Parsi leader added, sugar to the milk and sent it back allaying the king’s concerns and indicating that they will fix with the local population just like sugar in milk. They kept their promise have added sweetness to India ever since. Names like Balsara indicate which town in Gujarat they settled as one can imagine, Balsaras settled in Balsara/Valsad.Recommend

  • Dilaira

    Looking at the response, I guess i’ll have to keep the recipes rolling. Parsi cuisine has a lot to offer; suffice it to say that I haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg with this recipe. Recommend

  • Hina

    While it is nice to see so many positive response, I cannot understand the logic of “recipe blogs” … what is the rule of moderation? Do I get published if I send a recipe too?Recommend

  • @gp65

    @ gp65

    Nice story that you related-just like the jews who came to India 2k years ago,fleeing the Roman persecution of 70 A.D. Several communities are present around the country-cochin,an eastern place and another place in maharastra..I don’t remember the city’s name.Many of them have lived and are now returning to israel-the government is offering them citizenship.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Hina: The section is called ‘ The Good Life ‘………… so food fits just right. Suggest send in a recipe and try your luck.

  • nassi

    Then you’d better get cracking with rolling your recipes because you’ve got a lot of ground or should I say iceberg to cover.Recommend