Rice with Lentils

Adas polow


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes



Appears in

Food of Life

By Najmieh Batmanglij

Published 2011

  • About
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours



  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 Cornish chickens (about 5pounds/2.2kg), butterflied
  • teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon advieh (Persian spice mix)*
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons rose water


  • 3 cups (600 g) long-grain basmati rice
  • 2 cups (400 g) lentils
  • teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) oil, butter, or ghee*
  • 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups (300 g) raisins
  • 2 cups (350 g) pitted dates
  • Zest 3 oranges
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons advieh (Persian spice mix)*
  • 1 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in ¼ cup (60ml) orange blossom water
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt


  1. To cook the chicken: Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) and oil a baking dish. Spread the onions and garlic in the baking dish, and place the chicken on top. Season with salt, pepper, turmeric, advieh, and lime juice. Cover with parchment paper and bake in the oven for 1½ hours. Add the saffron-rose water, cover and keep warm until ready to serve either over the rice or beside it. This rice is also often served with leg of lamb, see variation recipe for cooking the lamb.
  2. Clean and wash 3 cups rice 5 times in warm water.
  3. In a medium saucepan, place the lentils, 6 cups/1.5l 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, ½ 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/600 ml water.
  6. To make the golden crust (tah-dig): In a mixing bowl, whisk together ½ cup/120ml oil, ¼ cup/60ml water, and a few drops of saffron-orange blossom water, the yogurt, and 2 spatulas (200g) 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 dates mixture. Repeat, mounding in the shape of a pyramid.
  8. Cover and cook the rice for 10 minutes over medium heat. Pour the remaining oil, ½ 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 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 rice. Decorate with saffron-flavored rice.
  12. Detach the crust from the bottom of pot using a wooden spatula. Unmold onto 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 chicken and skip step 1 and proceed with step 2. Garnish with 1 cup (150g) toasted almonds, ½ cup (75g) toasted sunflower seeds, ½ cup (75g) 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 dates mixture, and rice.