Adas is the Persian word for Lentils, along with Polo, the aromatic Persian rice combined with different types of meat or chicken, raisins and dates, making the delicious combination of Adas Polo or Persian Rice with Lentils. You can find this saffron-flavored main dish served during different Persian gatherings, ranging from a simple family gathering to weddings or mourning ceremonies.
Ingredients for Adas Polo
Like most other Persian polo recipes, Adas Polo has only a few ingredients that are easy to find everywhere. All you need is basmati rice, brown lentils, seedless brown raisins, any type of meat you like, dates, oil, salt, pepper, and water.
Iranians normally make this dish with either mutton or lamb’s minced meat or meatballs, though you can make with beef or chicken breasts as well. You also need several spices such as turmeric, cinnamon and like many other Persian dishes, saffron. The combination of these ingredients makes a meal with a fantastic and unique sweet taste.
Is it a vegetarian dish?
In the original version of this meal, you make it with either beef, mutton, lamb minced meat or chicken breasts. However, you can either skip adding the meat or substitute it with other alternatives such as soy meat to have a vegetarian/vegan version of Adas Polo.
How to make Adas Polo
Prepare the rice for the Persian Rice with Lentils the same way you would for any other Persian rice dishes. Follow all the steps up to the point where rice grains are soft on the outside and still firm in the center. Then, drain it in a strainer and rinse it with cold water. Keep it on the side.
You need to also prepare your lentils. Bring the lentils with water and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil, and cook over medium heat until tender. Then, drain the lentils in a strainer and put it aside.
Heat the vegetable oil or butter in a large pan over medium heat, and fry the onions until lightly brown. In case you want to add the minced meat or chicken breasts, add it to your onions. Spice your meat with salt and pepper. Instead of meat or chicken, you can prepare other vegetarian proteins such as soy meat for a vegetarian Adas Polo.
After you fry and cook your meat and onions, add turmeric and cinnamon powder to the mixture.
Soak the raisins for a few minutes in water. Add the raisins to your mixture. You can also add a few chopped dates to this recipe in case you like to have a sweeter version of Adas Polo. Let the mixture on heat for 5-10 minutes.
Making Adas Polo with the prepared mixture
In a pot, heat about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until shimmering. Spoon in the rice to cover the bottom of the pot. Then, add the mixture of lentils with the remaining rice.
Mix the meat, raisins, and dates with the rice and lentils. Make holes in the rice with the back of your spoon to allow the rice to steam out. Add some cinnamon and brewed saffron to the top based on your taste.
Cook it on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, until you see the steam is built upon the lid of the pot. Then, wrap the lid in a Damkoni (a clean cotton tablecloth). In this way, you absorb the extra moisture and steam by the cotton cloth, resulting in fluffy rice. Lower the heat to medium-low and steam the Adas Polo for another 30 to 40 minutes.
In the last 10 minutes of the cooking time, you can pour brewed saffron over the rice and lentils, so that it’s is combined with the other ingredients. Cook it until there is a golden brown, crusty layer of rice (tahdig) on the bottom of the pot.
How to serve Persian Rice with Lentils?
Pour Adas Polo in a large serving bowl. You can decorate it with meatballs, fried onions, raisins, and dates. And of course, don’t forget to take the Tahdig out of the bottom of the pot and taste its crispiness while it’s still hot. Enjoy it with a side of yogurt, or fresh herb platter as Persian side dishes, as well as with cold Persian drinks such as Doogh (Persian yogurt drink).
Adas Polo - Persian Rice with Lentils
- 1 1/2 cups brown lentils
- 250 grams minced meat, or chicken breasts or soy meat
- 1 cups raisins optional
- dates optional
- 3 cups basmati rice
- brewed saffron
- 1/2 tbsp cinnamon or 1-inch cinnamon bark
- 1/2 tbsp turmeric
- vegetable oil
- Soak the basmati rice with salt in water for at least one hour.
- Bring the basmati rice with water, salt and oil to boil. Boil until tender outside, and still firm inside. Then drain it and pour cold water on it. Set it aside.
- Bring the brown lentils with water and salt and oil to boil. Cook until tender, then set aside.
- Fry the onions until they are slightly golden.
- Add the minced meat, meatballs, chicken breasts or soya meat with salt, pepper, turmeric, and cinnamon to the onions.
- Add the raisins previously soken in water to the mixture. You can also cut dates in half and add them to the mixture. Let it be on medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
- Pour oil on the bottom of a pot, and pour a layer of rice on the bottom for the crispy layer of tahdig.
- Add the mixture of meat, raisins, lentils with rice in the pot.
- Cook on medium-high for 10 minutes, or until steam builds up on the top of the lid. Then, wrap the lid in a Damkoni.
- Cook it on medium-low for 30 to 40 minutes until a crispy layer is formed at the bottom of the pot. Add the brewed saffron at the end.