We love to eat at Rumi’s Kitchen in Atlanta, a very popular restaurant with Persian-influenced food pleasing vegetarians and carnivores alike. Rumi’s Kitchen has a side dish called Adas Polo worthy of a main course at our house. The recipe below is a combination of one from Genius Kitchen and another from My Persian Kitchen.
Adas Polo needs to be started the day before or early on the day you want to eat it. According to My Persian Kitchen, the dish can be made “fairly quickly, by Persian standards.” Be prepared to invest a couple of hours, not quick by American standards but delicious and so satisfying. The dish tastes even better the next day, so you are really cooking for several meals.
1/2 cup dry lentils
2 cups basmati rice, uncooked
3 1/2 cups water (for rice)
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground preferably in a mortar and pestle
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled or ground with a mortar and pestle, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1 potato, sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, half a stick) butter, melted
Soak lentils for 6-8 hours or overnight in water to cover by several inches. The lentils will triple in size so use plenty of water.
Drain the soaked lentils. Choose a large 5- or 6-quart pan or pot with a tight-fitting lid. You’ll need the tight-fitting lid later. Whoever washes your dishes will thank you for choosing a nonstick pan.
Cover the lentils with water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and stir to dissolve. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes or until tender. Drain lentils and set aside.
While the lentils are cooking, make the basmati rice. Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Cook it according to package directions, or with 3 1/2 cups of water and about 1/2 teaspoon salt in a covered pot or rice cooker. Once rice is done, transfer the cooked rice to a large bowl.
Prepare the vegetables: slice the onion, mince the garlic, chop the dates, and slice the potato.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan or large skillet. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute, taking care not to burn it. Turn off the heat. Add raisins, dates, and spices, except saffron. Mix well. Now add the lentils you cooked first. This is now your lentil-raisin mixture. Move it to a bowl if you plan to cook your Adas Polo in the same pan you used for the lentil-raisin mixture.
In your now-empty large nonstick pot with a tight-fitting lid, cover the bottom surface with canola oil. Add potato slices. Add a layer of rice. Add a layer of the lentil-raisin mixture. Continue layering, ending with a final layer of rice.
Cover the pot and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Drizzle the melted butter and the saffron water over the rice.
Cover the pot again (now is when you need that tight-fitting lid!) Cook on low for 30 minutes. You want to make the potatoes crispy, so they must cook slowly. No steam should be escaping from the pot.