The medicinal value of Dhansakh

A thorough analysis of the beneficial properties of the famous Parsi delicacy. Do try this at home. Side effects might include extreme urges to contemplate the universe, with eyes shut and body horizontal.

There is something about Parsi food that stirs the deepest corners of every alternate gene in my body. That’s because I am half South Indian, and South Indian food rattles the other half of my genetic make-up. But today…

Let me be Parsi.

And without getting too mathematical, I am here to report that, the other day, we ordered in, after a really long time. Mutton Dhansakh.

Dhansakh by adi pocha
Dhansakh is a great digestive, especially designed to expel all unwanted gaseous material from every corner of your body. If the dosage is right, Dhansakh is a great colon cleanser as well.
Image courtesy Adi Pocha

Now contrary to popular perception, Dhansakh is not prepared, or eaten, on auspicious days. It is, in fact, had on the fourth day after the death of a loved one. So, it is technically associated more with mourning than with festivity. So, you will never see Dhansakh served at a Parsi wedding. But Parsis like me just love Dhansakh. So what to do?

Fortunately, we have a lot of Parsi trademark lawyers around and I am sure that it is one of them who figured out how to fix this grave problem. I think they just quietly changed the name. Just rebranded Dhansakh.

So now, at a Parsi wedding they do this simple, clever thing – they just take all the meat out of the Dhansakh, then put the meat into a pulao, and then serve everything together again. And bingo! What do you have? Something that looks like Dhansakh, smells like Dhansakh, even tastes suspiciously like Dhansakh. But… technically isn’t Dhansakh.

And then, of course, in a master stroke of misdirection, they just rebrand the whole thing as Mutton Palao Daar.

Now I might not be 100 per cent right about this, and if I am not, do let me know your detailed views in comments on my blog, along with appropriately quoted references and authoritative scientific papers.

Anyway, point is: We Parsis aren’t really that fussed about these technical things, like when to eat what. So, as long as it is not a wedding or a festival, we can just go ahead and dabao!

Sundays are fine. And Tuesdays or even Wednesdays, or any other day that you don’t mind sleeping through, are also fine. Growing up, in fact, that was my favourite way to spend a Sunday. Eat huge, steaming mounds of my mother’s delicious Mutton Dhansakh, poured over its traditional caramelized brown rice, accompanied with Mutton Kababs and Kachumber… and then drift off into a happy coma on my father’s Parsi armchair.

That’s another thing. Once you’ve had a full meal of Dhansakh, you don’t usually manage to make it to your bed. Which is also fine.

Firstly, because it is an old Parsi tradition.

After Dhansakh you have to sleep in your dad’s old Parsi armchair. Or in the worst-case scenario, anybody’s old Parsi armchair. Which is why you will see all those armchairs, standing in the verandas of any self-respecting Parsi Club. Like a line of alert slip fielders, ever ready, to catch a falling Parsi.

Secondly, because Dhansakh puts you into such a deep sleep that you don’t really care where you sleep.

You see, Dhansakh is the world’s best tranquilizer. In fact, I am convinced that Dhansakh has important medicinal value. They just haven’t done enough research on this. But I am sure that if some enterprising Parsi scientist ran a few clinical trials and managed to bottle the stuff, he or she would make a killing. And may even have to eventually run away to England. I know this as a fact. Because I have reams of empirical data garnered from a sample of one.

Every time, every single time, that I have had Dhansakh, all my aches and pains have miraculously disappeared. Mainly because I have been rendered almost immediately unconscious. Plus, again from personal experience, I am convinced that Dhansakh is a great digestive, especially designed to expel all unwanted gaseous material from every corner of your body. In fact, I think, if the dosage is right, Dhansakh is a great colon cleanser as well. And Dhansakh, as previously mentioned, also has wonderful sedative properties. And finally, it is a sooooperb mood elevator, carefully calculated to bring a beatific smile on the face of even the most cranky bawaji. Very useful in treating mental health issues of a certain frowning, whining kind.

In fact, I think I have the glimmer of a business idea forming:

Start manufacturing Dhansakh on an industrial scale. Then sell it as an OTC drug through every medical store in the country. Then watch the fun, hanh!

POSTSCRIPT: I even have a slogan: “Have no fear, Dhansakh is here!” And so on and so forth and see ya in my dad’s armchair.

Adi pocha
Adi Pocha is a writer and director. He is currently the founder/director of Squirkle Productions which specialises in business movies. You can follow his weekly blog at

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