Persian Rice with Cabbage and Lentils (Kalam Polo ba Adas)


Cabbage, lentils and tomato lie at the heart of vegetarian comfort food.

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And I do love cabbage. It gets a bad rap, but it is so versatile.  Cabbage can be stir fried, braised, stuffed, pickled, or, as I even like to munch on it, eaten raw.  And lentils, I hated lentils as a child.  They were always overcooked an mushy – ew!  But as an adult I have learned to cook them until they are still a little al dente before adding them into any dish.  Then they retain a nice texture to go with all their great nutrients.

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Don’t forget about the tomato, here in the form of tomato paste.  Don’t skimp on the tomato paste, you can never add too much.

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Persian rice with cabbage and lentils is a vegetarian version of the Persian comfort food – Kalam Polo, typically made with ground beef. One way to make that vegetarian is to use soy crumbles in place of the beef, but rather than “fake it” – no, don’t yell at me for that, I use soy crumbles in place of beef much of the time – I replaced the beef with lentils.

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As with most comfort foods, this goes down very easy, and if you don’t watch it, you can eat a lot before you know it.  So add a nice salad to meal, grab a piece of the tahdig and enjoy!

Kalam Polo ba Adas (Persian Rice with Cabbage and Lentils)

1 cup lentils

3 cups basmati rice

1/2 tsp saffron threads, ground and dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water

21/2 Tbsp canola oil, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 medium cabbage, cut into 1/2” inch pieces

1 lb extra lean ground beef

3 cups water, divided

1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1/4 – 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp advieh 

1 Tbsp turmeric

2 Tbsp tomato paste 

1 Tbsp lemon juice

Torshi for serving

Directions

Place the rice in a bowl, rinse with cold water until it runs clear.  Then leave the rice to soak in salted water for 2 hours.

Place the lentils in a small pot with 3 cups of water, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for a total of about 10 minutes, until the lentils are al dente, not quite cooked through, they should still have a bite to them. Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop them from cooking.

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Heat the oil in a large skillet (one you have a cover for) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown. Add the cabbage, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove the cover and add the turmeric, advieh, salt, and pepper, continue to cook until the the mixture is browned about 3 – 5 minutes. 

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Add 1 cup of water and the prepared saffron and cook until most of the water is absorbed.

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Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, a couple of minutes.

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Remove from heat and stir in the lentils and lemon juice, mixing thoroughly,  Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

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Drain the rice and place it in a rice cooker.  Add in the lentil and cabbage mixture and mix through thoroughly. Add 2 3/4 cups of water, cover and set to cook for 55 minutes.

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To serve, break up the tah dig that forms at the bottom of the cooker. Serve with torshi or other pickles and Enjoy!

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Serves 4 – 6.

 

Let me know what you think of this post, and if you try the recipe, please let me know how it was and any suggestions you have. Thanks, Andrea

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