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Adas Polo o Morgh (Persian-Style Lentil Rice With Chicken)

Adas Polo o Morgh (Persian-Style Lentil Rice With Chicken) 4.000

Rey Lopez for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Eat Voraciously Newsletter Mar 3, 2021

Adas polo, or lentil rice, is an Iranian rice dish that’s scented with cumin and saffron and tossed or topped with caramelized onions, plump raisins and sweet dates. It can be a meal in itself, no meat required, but it’s often served with chicken. In this version, thinly sliced onions brown and crisp quickly in ghee or butter before raisins and dates are added. Then, you'll brown tender boneless, skinless chicken thighs before steaming them with the lentils and rice. Sprinkle lots of crispy onions and sweet raisins and dates on each serving. You can use any cut of chicken here, but other cuts may take longer to cook. The instructions below explain a technique common in Iranian cooking: Wrap the lid of the pot you use in a clean dish towel. It will absorb excess steam, ensuring supremely fluffy rice.

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Active time: 25 mins; Total time: 1 hour

Make Ahead: The onion, dates and raisins can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container; warm in the microwave or in a small pan over low heat before serving.

4 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4-6 servings

  • 1 cup (about 6 1/2 ounces) basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 12 ounces total)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion (8 to 10 ounces), halved and very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/4 ounces) raisins, preferably golden
  • 5 dates, preferably Medjool, pitted and quartered (optional)
  • 3 1/3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 pinches saffron


In a medium bowl, combine the rice and lentils. Using very hot tap water, rinse the grains 3 or 4 times, or until the water runs almost clear. Cover the rice and lentils with very hot water and set aside to soak.

Place the chicken thighs on a plate or tray and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt and the pepper evenly on both sides. Set aside, at room temperature, to allow the seasoning to permeate the meat.

In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with a lid over high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the ghee or butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon to prevent any spots from burning, until crisp and deep brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the raisins and dates, if using, allowing them to soften, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the onion and raisin mixture to a small bowl.

Return the pot to high heat. Add the chicken thighs, arranging them in a single layer across the bottom of the pot, and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. (The chicken will not be cooked through.) Lower the heat to medium. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate.

Drain the rice and lentils and add them to the pot along with the water, the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee or butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, the cumin, cinnamon, if using, and saffron. Increase the heat to high and, using a wooden spoon, gently stir to ensure the spices are well incorporated. Bring the rice mixture to a boil.

Meanwhile, wrap the lid of the pot in a clean dish towel, preferably one that’s waffle-knit or terry cloth, securing it to the handle with a knot or rubber band so the edge of it won’t be in danger of catching flame. This is essential: The towel will absorb steam as the rice cooks. Nestle the chicken thighs atop the rice and lentils. Tightly cover the pot with the swaddled lid and lower the heat to medium-low. Steam the rice, lentils and chicken until cooked, tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed, fluffing with a fork once or twice, 40 to 45 minutes.

Toss some of the onion and raisin mixture with the rice and chicken and serve hot, with the remaining onion and raisin mixture on the side.

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Recipe Source

From staff writer G. Daniela Galarza

Tested by G. Daniela Galarza.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 6): 577

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 25g 38%

Saturated Fat: 12g 60%

Cholesterol: 27mg 9%

Sodium: 725mg 30%

Total Carbohydrates: 73g 24%

Dietary Fiber: 9g 36%

Sugar: 23g

Protein: 17g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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