Choosda Nu Dhanshak – A very old Parsee delicacy.
Not many people have the stomach for choosdas (goat intestine). It is a delicacy but it’s also an acquired taste. I had gone to my maternal grand mom’s house in Pune for my summer vacation, sometime around 1978-79, when she first introduced me to this dish. That was the first and last time she made it for me. Somehow she never got around to making it again and 5 years later she passed away. The taste n the aroma of the ‘chooda nu dhanshak’ has somehow always stayed with me. Sounds very weird because I was barely 10 years old at the time but it’s true. Vacations always meant awesome food cooked by Granna. I still remember the aroma of the Santosh Cooker being opened every day in the afternoon at around 12 noon. It’s an aroma that stays in my subconscious mind but somehow I have never experienced the same aroma every again.
I can clean anything, brains, liver, trotters etc but the thought of cleaning the choosdas was too yucky n that kept me away all these years from ever trying to replicate the dish but, as life willed it, a friend of mine had a Niyaaz done a couple of days back and my Girl Friday Anu (Anita – she’s family) requested her for the choodas because they don’t usually use that to cook Niyaaz food. Anu promised she would clean it without asking me for any help. I for one was most happy because I knew exactly what I wanted to make if she managed to clean the choosdas. That is how the Choosda Nu Dhanshak got made at home after all these years.
The Choosda Nu Dhanshak dal made by my family had always been different from the regular Dhanshak that we make. Each Parsee family has a Dhanshak recipe that has been handed down to them by their grandmoms and moms. The basic recipe remains the same but each family adds a wee bit of their own individual tweak to it. My actual/regular family recipe for ‘Dhanshak’ (mutton or chicken) is a slightly different one n was handed down to me by my great aunt coz mom was never a cook n I was too young to learn from my Granna because she passed away before I picked up the ladle. The Dhanshak I made with choosdas is the recipe from a book (Jamva Chalo Ji by Katy Dalal) that was gifted to me years ago by my better half. I have tweaked the recipe a wee bit but specially chose this one for the choodas bcoz this recipe came closest to Granna’s Choosda Nu Dhanshak that I had years ago.
Choosdas – from one whole goat
200 gm toovar dal
75 gm red pumpkin
50 gm brinjal
175 gms tomatoes, finely chopped
½ bunch spring onions
¼ cup methi/fenugreek leaves
1-2 colocasia leaves
1 white radish leaves
3 green chilies, deseeded
½ cup coriander leaves, chopped
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp turmeric powder
½ tbsp chili powder (or to taste)
1 tbsp Parsee Dhanshak Masala
1 tbsp Parsi Sambhar Masala (Khambhati Sambhar)
¾ tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 raw green mango, skinned n finely chopped
½ cup oil or pure ghee
Clean the choosdas with lots of flour or chana aata or chunna that is used for paan leaves (Betel leaves). (I used chunna) Scrape of all the thick dark residue. Wash extremely well n keep aside. When absolutely clean the choodas will be white-ish in colour.
Wash the dal n soak it in water for 15-20 minutes.
Wash n chop the spring onions, chilies, fenugreek leaves, colocasia leaves, brinjal, pumpkin, coriander leaves n radish leaves.
Wash the dal n put it into a pressure cooker. Add the washed n chopped vegetables, turmeric powder, chili powder, ginger-garlic paste n salt to taste.
Add 3 to 3 ½ cups of water n pressure cook it till choodas n dal is cooked.
Open the cooker when the pressure cooker cools down a wee bit. Remove the dal in a large thali n separate the choodas from the dal. Keep the choosdas aside.
Beat the dal in a vessel with a hand blender or blitz till smooth in a mixer. U can also use a colander n a ladle to smoothen the dal.
Heat oil or pure ghee in a large dekchi. Splutter curry leaves. Add the chopped tomatoes n cook over a slow fire.
When the tomatoes soften, add the Parsi sambhar n dhanshak masalas. Mix well, Add the mango pieces n cook for a minute more.
Add the pureed dal, choosdas n allow to simmer well for 15-20 minutes. Add a bit of water if the dal thickens when simmering.
– Recipe by Kainaaz Writer Bokdawalla