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Rice with Brown Lentils and Caramelized Onion

Adas Polo

Otherwise called Adas Polo, this rice is a favorite and best when you get the gorgeous caramelized crispy rice portion called tadig.  It takes some practice but you can do it.

Serve with Tamarind Salmon.  

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 8Servings



  • 3 cups basmati rice, checked and rinsed
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ cup canola oil

Rice Topping

  • ½ cup brown lentils, checked and rinsed
  • 1½ cups of water
  • 1 onion, caramelized 

Tadig (crispy crust)

  • Canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ⅛ teaspoon turmeric and/or saffron powder
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds


To cook the rice and make the topping

  1. Fill a 6-quart nonstick saucepan with 8 cups of water; add oil, salt, and turmeric. Cover and bring to a brisk boil over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, make the topping: In a small saucepan, bring the water and lentils to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/low and cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until the lentils become “al dente”. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
  3. When the turmeric water boils, add the rice and continue cooking, uncovered, over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. After 3–5 minutes, use a slotted spoon to scoop some grains from the water. Break one grain in half to make sure it is “al dente”. Turn off heat and pour rice into the colander to drain; set aside.
  5. Gently stir cooked lentils into the rice in the colander.

To steam and make tadig

1. Place the empty 6-quart saucepan back onto the stovetop over medium heat. Add ¼-inch canola oil and 2 tablespoons water. Add turmeric and/or saffron powder. Stir together.

2. Add sliced potatoes in a single layer. Add the drained rice and shape it into a pyramid. Cover the pot and cook for 5–7 minutes until rice begins to steam.

3. Uncover and place 2 paper towels (one on top of the other) over the rice. The ends will extend outside the pot. Replace the lid tightly.

4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and tilt the lid until ready to serve.

5. Serve on a shallow platter, mounding the rice into a pyramid and garnishing with caramelized onions and tadig.