This is another one of my favourite Persian (Iranian) dishes that I’ve veganised. The reason why I like this dish so much is because it’s so simple and can be had as a main course or a side dish. But lets be honest, the real reason why I like this dish is because it’s so so yummy! It’s one of my favourites from when I was a kid.
The name of this dish in Farsi (Persian) is Addass Pollo, which literally means Lentil Rice, and that’s exactly what it is! Lentils and rice are a match made in heaven, and in many countries their marriage is legally recognised ;) Because together, lentil and rice make a complete protein meal. Lentils themselves are very high in protein, in fact after soy and hemp it has the highest protein to weight ratio. They’re also a very good source of iron, folate, B1, phosphorous and zink. That’s why lentils are a staple in many 3rd world and developing countries such as Iran, India and most parts of Africa where meat might be scarce or the diet is primarily vegetarian. There are so many types of lentils and each having distinctive tastes, but the one I’m used to are the green lentils. To help with digestion and absorption of the many great minerals and vitamins that lentils have, you should soak it overnight, or at least for 2 hours in warm water before cooking.
Another amazing thing this dish and many Iranian and Indian dishes have is Turmeric, which is just off the top of the charts with all the things it can cure, so I won’t bore you with them, but if you are interested, you can see them here.
1 cup lentils (soaked over night)
1 cup rice, I use basmatti
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
a dash or two of cinnamon
a few strands of saffron (optional)
Cut up the onion and garlic and start frying the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil at medium high temperature, adding the garlic about 5 minutes after and cook for another 2-3 minutes on medium temperature. Add your spices, raisin and dates and mix it well until all incorporated and cook for another 2-3 minutes on low heat. Meanwhile, cook the lentil in a small pan with some salt for about 10 minutes. Check the done-ness, and if it’s still a bit hard, cook it for another 2 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the lentils, as then they’ll lose their shape and become all mushy. Again meanwhile, cook your rice in a rice cooker! Aha, I cheated. I use a rice cooker. If you don’t have one, just cook it in another pot with hot hot water for, again about 5-7 minutes. It’s time to layer them…but first…
…I’m going to share with you an Iranian cooking secret! Shhh. There is a second step to cooking rice in Iran and it’s called “dam keshidan“! This is when you get yummy tadig! Ok, it’s a bit tricky to explain, especially if you have a rice cooker! You don’t let your rice cook all the way. You want it to get to el dente stage, like pasta…and then, just like pasta, you strain it, rinse it with cold water to wash out most of the starch, and then wash it with hot hot water, to heat it back up before you put it in the pot again. But before we do that, we add about 2 tsp olive oil and 2 tsp vegan butter or coconut oil in the same pot, and then cover the bottom with a thin bread such as one side of a pitta pocket. Now it’s time to add the strained rice on top of this. For this dish, we’ll layer it with the strained lentils and the onion, garlic, raisin, date mixture and then more rice, until you have no more. Your last layer should be rice though. ground the saffron and mix it with about 2 tablespoons of hot or boiling water, and pour it on top of the rice. If you’re not using saffron, then pour just a bit of hot or boiling water on the top. Cover the lid of your pan with either a 100% cotton kitchen towel or paper towels and then fit it tightly on top of the pot. As the rice cooks up, the towel will absorb any excess steam and prevent from hitting the cold lid and becoming water again. This ensures a fluffy rice. Be careful that the temperature under your pot is a gentle low medium, so the bread doesn’t burn, but is still high enough to crisp up the bread. Cook for another 10 – 15 minutes but DO NOT peak. The steam is very important!
* If you are using a rice cooker, when ever it turns itself off, then turn it back on after a minute to keep a continuos low medium heat for the bread to become crispy. You want to “dam” for about 15 – 20 minutes in a rice cooker.
And the result is tadig, a crispy, rice filled yummy bread thing! Oh man, I want some right now! Of course the main dish is really yummy too. Nooshe joon, which means bon appetit.