This vegetarian rice with lentils recipe was a favourite in the house I grew up in. In Persian rice with lentils is called adas polo but we called it adas dami because my mum made it by the absorption method rather than the more elaborate parboiling and steaming method. Meat lovers usually top adas polo with sautéed ground meat (lamb or beef) or shredded chicken as well as caramelised onions. Hers, however, was meatless and lighter but no less comforting.
My dad didn’t eat meat and as children we wouldn’t eat onions so my mum left the meat and onions out but she always served it with plenty of the family’s favourite chopped tomato and cucumber salad. Now that I think I realise it had been a much healthier choice.
On the table there was always soft fresh herbs (tarragon, mint, parsley, coriander, chives, spring onions, radishes) from which we picked what we liked to eat with our rice. Serving only one or two of your favourite herbs, chopped or whole, is a good way to add flavour and nutrition to your meals like in the recipe here.
Fermented vegetable pickles (shoor) and vinegary relishes (torshi) were the usuals on the table too. My mum made loads. It’s actually the time of year I always make my own. Lots of nice vegetables and fruit to pick from in autumn. I need to get to work! If you like trying new things you can give a try to my Spicy Persian Pickles recipe (Torshi bandari). It will be perfect with the lentil rice.
I like to make this dish with tiny raisins (currants) because they taste a bit sweet and sour but regular raisins are fine to use too. To make the currants taste even better I sauté them briefly in butter or oil until they are shiny.
I usually serve this dish like a burrito bowl. I put the rice, currants, the salad and herbs in separate bowls and let everyone assemble their own bowl as they fancy. Sometimes I make a few fried eggs with runny yolks in browned butter too and we put a sunny-side-up on top of everything else. That makes the dish even more satisfying and delicious.
Did I mention the delicious tahdig (crust from the bottom of the rice pot)? With a little patience and following the instructions below you can get that too. You can see a picture of mine below.
To serve four you will need the following ingredients:
For the chopped salad:
At the time of serving put the rice, currants, herbs and the salad in separate bowls and let everyone build their own rice bowl and drizzle some of the juices from the salad on top too. Enjoy!