Lentil Cranberry Rice: A Persian style aromatic dish that is a bit tangy, subtly sweet and savory, packed with plant protein, fiber, antioxidants and healthy fats. It is vegan (without optional ingredients), gluten free and so easy to make (video below).
INSPIRED BY PERSIAN ADAS POLO
So the cranberry rice here is actually inspired by the traditional Adas polo, a Persian lentil rice. I often used to make that with a little bit of barberries (Zereshk). Since cranberries are more easily available I tried the version here using them. Then I dressed up the creation with some carrots, orange rind, pistachios and dates.
And it also has a lot of the healthy lentils in it. Other versatile lentil recipes are this nice flavorful – Mediterranean red lentil soup and this lip smacking salad – Spiced Herbed Lentil Salad with Avocado.
HEALTH BENEFITS – LENTIL RICE WITH CRANBERRIES
Lentils are packed with protein, fiber, folic acid, manganese, iron, phosphorus and phytochemicals. They are also a good source of soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels. Regular consumption of lentils is associated with lowering the risk of obesity and heart disease.
As lentils are a good source of dietary fiber, they help maintain good digestion, regularity and satiety. Lentils provide good amount of bulk and are suitable for weight loss diets.
The cranberries in this dish add a slightly sweet and tangy taste while amplifying the nutrient quotient at the same time. Cranberries have been referred to as a super food as they are high in nutrients and antioxidants. They are a good source of vitamin C, fiber, manganese, vitamin K, and vitamin E.
The health benefits of cranberries include – lower risk of urinary tract infections, improved immune function, cancer prevention, and decreased blood pressure. It is the high level of proanthocyanidins in cranberries that help prevent the bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract, thereby mitigating the infection.
HOW TO COOK PERSIAN STYLE CRANBERRY RICE
Lentils are of many kinds; quick and easy to prepare. Here, I have used the green lentils, as they cook to a firm texture without falling apart.
The store bought dried cranberries are too sweet with a lot of sugar in them. I prefer to make my own. Doing this lowers the added sugar by 40%. I simply mix some cranberries with honey or maple syrup and bake them for about half hour. It will definitely release some juices, but just let it rest for a while.
I typically leave the baked berries on the baking sheet for a day and then slowly loosen them using a fork. Viola, I have sweeter cranberries that are still a little moist and work in a recipe like this one. They also look gorgeous like jewels!
I have used orange rind in this recipe but you may substitute with orange zest if you wish.
The recipe below provides instructions for making the cranberry rice in a rice cooker or a conventional cooking pot. Alternatively, the rice and lentil layers may be placed in an oven proof dish, covered and then baked at 350 degrees F for about one hour. If you wish to make the rice crust, then butter or oil the over proof dish and spread the rice-yogurt mixture, making sure to adjust the amount of oil, rice, yogurt and saffron needed to coat the bottom of the pan in a thick layer.
So, whether it is festive time or not, deck up your dinner table with this mouth watering Lentil Cranberry Rice studded with cranberries, lentils, dates, pistachios and more!!
Photography above: bijansviewfinder.com
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This post was first published on 8th January, 2017
- 1 ½ cups cranberries fresh, (or 3/4 cup dried cranberries soaked in water)
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (for fresh cranberries)
- 2 tablespoons orange rind* organic, slivered (or orange zest)
- 1 ¼ cup lentils
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (adjust as needed)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (inluding one tablespoon for optional rice crust)
- 1 onion medium, thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic grated
- 1 teaspoon advieh* (Persian spice mix)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin ground
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup carrot shredded
- 1 ¾ cups basmati rice white, rinsed*
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron (powdered and dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water)
- 3 tablespoons yogurt (optional for rice crust)
- 2 tablespoons pistachios toasted, sliced
- 2 tablespoons dates chopped (optional)
Rinse the fresh cranberries and blot them dry with a paper towel. Add the maple syrup or honey and stir well to coat the cranberries.
- Spread the berries out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for half hour. Ideally let the baked cranberries rest a day and loosen them out using a fork.
- Scrub and wash organic oranges really well. Wipe them dry. Peel very thin layers of the orange surface, without the pith. Cut thin slivers of the orange rind.
- Put the slivered orange rind in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain the orange rind and use.
Alternatively you may use grated orange zest.
- Cook the lentils in about 2 1/2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Once well done, drain the lentils and set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil at medium setting in a cooking pot. Add the sliced onions and sauté few minutes. Then add the grated garlic and continue to sauté until the onions are light golden brown. Add the cooked lentils and stir.
- Then add all the spices (advieh through black pepper) and stir well. Mix in the cranberries, shredded carrots and slivered orange peel. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, using a rice cooker, cook the rice with 2 ¼ cups of water, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Alternatively you may cook the rice in a cooking pot - bring 6 cups of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add the white basmati rice and let it boil at medium high to high heat for 5-6 minutes until the rice grains are soft. Make sure to stir the rice while it is cooking. Drain the rice well in a colander and set aside.
- RICE CRUST (optional*): If you would like to prepare the rice crust then add a tablespoon of oil to a heavy bottomed cooking pot or a "Persian" rice cooker and spread it. Take about 1/2 cup of cooked rice and mix it with the yogurt and 2 teaspoons of saffron water.
Spread the rice-yogurt mixture over the oil in the pot to make the rice crust.
Note: The amount of rice used for the rice-yogurt mixture is suggested for a pot that has a 6 to 7 inch diameter base. Adjust the oil, rice, yogurt and saffron used according to the size of the pot used.
- Mix 1/4 cup of cooked rice with a teaspoon of saffron water and set aside for garnish.
- Next place the remaining cooked white rice and the lentil cranberry mixture in several alternating layers.
- Sprinkle saffron water all over. [If you cooked the rice by the alternate conventional method, then be sure to also sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of oil on the top at this stage].
- If using a Persian rice cooker, just steam the rice and lentil layers together for 15 to 20 minutes.
For the conventional method, turn up the heat to medium high for about 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to the low setting and simmer for about 20 minutes or more until the steam builds up well.
- Once the rice is ready, turn off the heat. Gently and lightly mix the layers of the Lentil Cranberry Rice.
- Plate the prepared rice on a serving platter. Garnish with shredded carrots, orange rind, cranberries, pistachio slices and dates if you prefer. The rice crust if prepared, may be served on the side.
- Serve this Lentil Cranberry Rice with a yogurt salad such as Persian Yogurt Dip with Shallots.
- To make the optional rice crust you will need to use a conventional heavy bottomed cooking pot, a non stick pot or a Persian rice cooker.
- Cooking time and water used for white basmati rice may vary with the age of rice.
- Rinse the basmati rice several times, until the water is clear and not starchy.
- The amount of water added while cooking the rice is very important to the final texture of this recipe.
- It is important to keep in mind the additional moisture from the other ingredients added to this Lentil Cranberry Rice such as the cooked lentils and onions. Therefore, in the first step, the rice should be cooked in a way to yield a fluffy rice, but holds its shape well and is not too wet and delicate.
- Persian spice mix (Advieh) recipe is on the blog. Ready made advieh is available at Persian or middle eastern grocery stores or online.
- May use a middle eastern or Mediterranean mixed spice as a substitute.
- For more tips, check out the blog post above.
Servings: 9 cups
Serving Size: 1 Cup
Calories 298, Total Fat 6 g (Saturated Fat 1 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat 4 g), Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium* 202 mg, Potassium 398 mg, Phosphorus 199 mg, Total Carbohydrate 51 g, Dietary Fiber 8 g, Sugars 5 g, Protein 10 g
* The suggested amount of salt is just a guideline and may need to be adjusted. Check for any added salt in spice mixes and other ingredients and adjust.