Saffron rice with lentils

Saffron rice with lentils

Addas polow

Mark Roper

Lentil and rice dishes are popular all around the Middle East, as the combination is a great way of boosting one’s protein intake. In this polow, the nutty flavours of the rice and lentils are off set brilliantly by the sweetness of sultanas and toffee-ish dates. This is another dish that works well for vegetarians, but it also makes a good accompaniment to lamb or chicken dishes.


Quantity Ingredient
300g basmati rice
2 tablespoons sea salt
100g brown lentils
2 tablespoons sultanas
100ml vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 fresh dates, pitted and cut in half
40g unsalted butter, melted
1 onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons Saffron liquid


  1. Wash the rice thoroughly, then leave it to soak in a generous amount of lukewarm water for 30 minutes. Swish it around with your fingers every now and then to loosen the starch.
  2. Strain the rice, rinsing it again with warm water. Bring 2 litres water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the salt and stir in the strained rice. Return the water to a rolling boil and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Test the rice by pinching a grain between your fingers or by biting it. It should be soft on the outside, but still hard in the centre. Strain the rice and rinse again with warm water. Toss it several times to drain away as much of the water as you can.
  3. Cook the lentils in boiling water for 20–30 minutes, or until just tender, then drain well and set aside. Soak the sultanas in a little hot water for 20 minutes, then drain.
  4. Return the rice saucepan to a medium heat and add 70 ml of the oil and 2 tablespoons water. As soon as the oil begins to sizzle, spoon in enough rice to cover the base of the pan in a thin layer. Mix the sultanas with the lentils, then stir in the allspice and pepper. Scatter a layer of this mixture over the rice in the pan. Continue to layer the rice and the lentil mixture, building them up into a pyramid. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke 5 or 6 holes down through the rice to the base of the pan to help it steam. Arrange the dates on top. Mix 2 tablespoons warm water with the melted butter and the saffron liquid and drizzle this over the rice. Wrap the saucepan lid in a clean tea towel and cover the pan as tightly as you can.
  5. Leave the pan on a medium–high heat for a 2–3 minutes until the mixture is visibly steaming – you will see puffs of steam escaping from the edges of the pan. Turn the heat down to low and leave the pan alone for 40 minutes. Resist the temptation to peek, as this releases the steam and affects the cooking time. This can actually sit quite happily over the lowest possible heat for another 20 minutes or so.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 30 ml oil in a frying pan over a low–medium heat and fry the onion for 8–10 minutes until golden brown, stirring continuously.
  7. When ready to serve, sit the rice and lentil mixture saucepan in a little cold water in the sink; the sudden change in temperature creates a surge of steam that ‘shocks’ the mixture and makes it shrink from the sides, which loosens the crusty bottom.
  8. To serve, invert the pan onto a warm serving platter so that the rice and lentils plop out as one glorious, golden-capped mound. Otherwise, spoon the mixture into a warm serving dish and when you reach the crispy base, lift it out and drape it over the rice. It doesn’t matter in the slightest if the tah-deeg breaks. Alternatively, present it on a separate plate.
  9. Garnish the polow with the fried onion before serving.
Middle Eastern
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again