Updated: Apr 26
Rice is central to the Persian cuisine, and the culture has developed numerous varieties of rice dishes. These vary from light, barely seasoned rice to heavy, meat laden, complex dishes.
A few cultures have developed cooking techniques to build a fried crust of crispy rice on the bottom of the pan, socarrat in a Spanish paella, khurchan for an Indian biryani, and of course a tahdig for a Persian palao. Getting this perfect crust is about perfect technique, timing and and art form. Of course, this crust is always the most delicious part of the dish , and also the most squabbled over! Tahdig literally means "bottom of the pot". You can learn more about making a perfect tahdig here.
Adas polo is a sweet-ish dish studded with dried fruits, dates, raisins, and others, that add a delicate sweetness to the meal. This ground spices, and saffron add spice and the tantalizing fragrance that is irresistible. We loved this dish, we all ate more of it than we wanted!
This is am amazing book. It details the technique for making tahdigs very well, as well as, numerous stews and grilled meats. I am glad I have it on my shelf.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
1 cup green or brown lentils
2 cups basmati rice or other long grain rice. In an attempt to be healthier, I reduce the rice to 1 cup.
1 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock or water
1 medium onion, finely diced
6 Mejdool dates, pits removed and cut into 4 pieces
1 cup raisins, or a mix of raisins, barberries, goji berries or other dried fruits
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A generous pinch of saffron
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 tablespoons ghee or butter
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons water
Salt to taste
Cook the lentils. I usually soak them overnight and boil in salted water for about 10-15 minutes till just done. Alternatively, you can boil them in salted water for about 25 minutes. You do not want the lentils mushy, but firm.
Cook the rice separately, I use a rice cooker. Again I have a "harder" setting on my cooker, that I use, or undercook the rice a tad to get firmer grains.
Heat a pan (preferably a non-stick pot) with the olive oil, add the onions and cook on medium till they are lightly browned, about 5-8 minutes. Add the saffron, dry spices and cook for another minute. Add the dried fruit and cook for another minute. Add 1 cup stock or water and cook till the water is almost evaporated completely, about 4-5 minutes. Mix in the lentils and rice and fold in well, but rather gently so as not to break the rice grains.
To make the tahdig, remove the rice mixture from the pot, or use a non-stick pot for this step. Add the ghee or butter and melt. Add the 1/2 rice back into the pot on the melted ghee and press down gently to form an even tight layer on the bottom. Top with the rest of the rice, loosely scattered on top. Add the 3 tablespoons water and seal. Cook on medium heat for 7-10 minutes, it will depend on the heat of your stove and will take some trial and error. When the time is up, turn off the heat, remove the lid, and in one swift motion invert the dish onto a large dish or board. The rice will pop out with the crusty tahdig on top. There is no way to know when the tahdig is perfect, this will take some trial and error.