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Rice with Lentils (Adas polow)


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 Onions, peeled and thinly slice
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 4 pounds leg of lamb, or lamb shanks (or 3 young chickens)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon advieh (Persian spice mix)*
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons rose water
  • 3 cups long-grain basmati rice
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup oil, butter or ghee*
  • 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup orange zest (6 oranges)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons advieh (Persian spice mix)*
  • 1 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup orange blossom water
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt


  • 1. To cook the meat: Preheat the oven at 375°F (190°C) and oil a baking dish. Spread the onion and garlic in the baking dish, and place the lamb on top. Season with salt, pepper, turmeric, advieh, and lime juice. Cover tightly and bake in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the lamb is tender. Add the saffron-rose water, cover and set aside.
  • 2. Clean and wash 3 cups rice 5 times in warm water.
  • 3. In a medium saucepan, place the lentils, 6 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • 4. In a wide skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil and brown the onions. Add raisins, dates, orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, advieh, and a few drops of the saffron-orange blossom water. Stir-fry for 20 seconds and set aside.
  • 5. Bring 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil in a large non-stick pot. Pour the washed and drained rice into the pot. Boil briskly for 6 to 10 minutes, gently stirring twice to loosen any grains that may have stuck to the bottom. Bite a few grains. If the rice feels soft, and all of it has risen to the surface, it is ready to be drained. Drain rice in a large, fine mesh colander and rinse with 2 or 3 cups water.
  • 6. To make the golden crust (tah-dig): In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup oil, 1/4 cup water, and a few drops of saffron-orange blossom water, the yogurt, and 2 spatulas of rice, and spread the mixture over the bottom of the pot.
  • 7. Place 2 spatulas full of rice in the pot. Add a spatula full of lentils and a spatula of the onions, raisins, and date mixture. Repeat, mound in the shape of a pyramid.
  • 8. Cover and cook the rice for 10 minutes over medium heat. Pour the remaining oil, 1/2 cup water, and the remaining saffron-orange blossom water over the pyramid. Wrap the lid of the pot with a clean dish towel and cover the pot firmly to prevent steam from escaping. Cook for 70 minutes longer over low heat.
  • 9. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes on a damp surface without uncovering it. This will help to free the crust from the bottom of the pot.
  • 10. Uncover the pot, take out 2 tablespoons of the saffron-flavored rice, and set aside for garnishing.
  • 11. gently take 1 spatula full of rice at a time and place it on a serving platter without disturbing the crust. Mound the rice in the shape of a cone. Arrange meat around the rice. Decorate with saffron-flavored rice.
  • 12. Detach the crust from the bottom of the pot using a wooden spatula. Unmound into a small platter and serve on the side with Persian pickles (torshi) and fresh herbs. Nush-e Jan!
  • Vegetarian Variation: Eliminate all the ingredients for the meat and skip step 1 and proceed to step 2. Garnish with 1 cup toasted sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts.
  • Cooking Variation: Cook lentils for 25 to 35 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside. Chop and sauté 2 onions, mixed with raisins, dates, and orange zest, until golden brown and set aside. Make the rice as directed without adding the lentils. Before serving, place a spatula of rice on a serving platter, then alternate with layers of lentils, the onions, raisins, and date mixture, and rice. Rice-Cooker Variation:
  • In the rice cooker pot, combine 3 1/2 cups water, 3 cups washed and drained rice (use a standard measuring cup, not the rice cooker's cup), 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 cup oil. Stir gently with a wooden spoon, cover, and start the rice cooker. Cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and hollow out the center of the rice and add the cooked and drained lentils from step 3. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Uncover and add the onion and raisin mixture from step 4. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes.