Lentils are a legume and a nutritional powerhouse. They are an excellent source of iron and protein. Lentils were traditionally called the “poor man’s meat.” I like to think of it as the “more mindful meat alternative.” Thankfully, my kids enjoy lentils, and we eat it often; yellow lentils, green lentils, brown lentils.
This Persian lentil and rice dish is traditionally made with meat, but my mom’s plant-based Adas Polo has so much flavor you won’t miss the meat. You can also add raisins to add a sweet flavor to the dish. My kids prefer this dish without the raisin, but this recipe includes the option to add raisins, if desired.
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A plant-based lentil and rice dish
- 3 cups of Basmati rice
- 1 1/2 cups brown lentils (soaked in warm water for 2-3 hrs) – Reduce to 1 cup if using the plant-based ground beef listed below.
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil
- 1 medium onion julienned
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. salt for lentil mixture & 1 Tbsp. salt for Basmati rice
- 1/2 tsp. brewed saffron
- 12 oz package plant-based ground beef (optional) – We like Trader Joe’s Beefless Ground Beef
- 1/3 cup raisins (optional)
- 1 medium Russet potato washed, peeled and cut into 4–5 slices
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- 1 Tbsp. water
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric
Make Lentil Mixture:
- In a medium pot, add 3 cups of water and the lentils and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes until tender (do not over cook). Set it aside.
- Add 1.5 Tbsp. oil to a large pan on medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add all the spices, salt, and brewed saffron and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the plant-based ground beef (if using) and sauté a few minutes until browned. Add the cooked lentils and raisins (if using). Combine well, and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
Make Basmati Rice:
- Wash the rice. To wash the rice, place the rice in a large bowl and cover with water. Move the rice with your hand to loosen particles. Pour off the water. Repeat the process 3-4 times until the rice is clean.
- Fill a large pot with water (3/4 full), add 1 Tbsp. salt, cover and bring to a boil.
- Add rice to boiling water, and cook on medium heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
- Drain the rice.
Combine Basmati Rice and the Lentil Mixture:
- Add 1 Tbsp. oil, 1 Tbsp. water, and 1/4 tsp. turmeric to the bottom of a large Persian rice cooker or a non-stick pot (with a lid).
- Place potato slices at the bottom of the rice cooker or pot.
- Add a layer of Basmati rice to the bottom of the rice cooker or pot (cover the potatoes completely). Then add a layer of the Lentil Mixture. Repeat the layering until all the Basmati rice and the Lentil Mixture are used (make sure to end with Basmati rice as the top layer)
- Cover and cook for 50-60 minutes in the rice cooker. (If cooking in a non-stick pot, cook for 50-60 minutes on medium/low heat).
- Before serving, mix the Basmati rice and the Lentil Mixture in the pot until well blended.
- Noosh-e-jan! Enjoy!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Category: Main Course
- Cuisine: Iranian/Persian
Keywords: Vegan, Plant-Based, Persian, Adas Polo, Lentil Rice, Vegetarian