Close up shot of Persian style lentils and rice.
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Lentils and Rice with Cranberries

Lentils and rice with cranberries is an aromatic Persian style dish that is a bit tangy, subtly sweet and savory. Easy, healthy and gluten free this flavorful one pot meal is packed with plant protein and fiber. A great thanksgiving side (vegan option, ingredient substitutions, two methods). Step by step pictures at end of post.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Persian
Keyword Adas Polo, Cranberry Rice, Lentil Rice
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 9 Cups
Calories 315kcal
Author Roxana Begum

Ingredients

  • cups cranberries fresh, (or 3/4 cup dried cranberries soaked in water)
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (for fresh cranberries)
  • 2 tbsp orange rind organic, slivered (or orange zest)
  • cups lentils
  • 3/4 tsp salt adjust
  • 4 tbsp olive oil (including one tbsp for optional rice crust)
  • 1 onion medium, thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic grated
  • 1 tsp advieh (Persian spice mix, substitute: see note 6-7)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin ground
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup carrot shredded
  • cups basmati rice white, rinsed, see note 2-5
  • 1/2 tsp saffron (ground and dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water)
  • 3 tbsp yogurt (optional for rice crust)
  • 2 tbsp pistachios toasted, sliced
  • 2 tbsp dates chopped (optional)

Instructions

HOW TO MAKE SWEETENED DRIED CRANBERRIES

  • 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 30 minutes. Ideally let the baked cranberries rest a day and loosen them out using a fork.
    Tip: May use store bought dried cranberries too.

SLIVERED ORANGE RIND

  • 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. 
    Tip: Alternatively you may use grated orange zest.

HOW TO COOK LENTILS

  • Cook the lentils in about 2½ cups of water and 1/4 tsp of salt. Once well done, drain the lentils and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tbsp 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.

RICE COOKER METHOD

  • Cook the rice with 2 ¼ cups of water, 1 tbsp oil and 1/2 tsp salt.
  • RICE CRUST (optional, needs Persian style rice cooker, skip to step 4 if not making this): Add a tbsp of oil or butter to a rice cooker and spread it. Take about 1/2 cup of cooked rice and mix it with the yogurt and 2 tsp of saffron water. 
  • Spread the rice-yogurt mixture over the oil in the pot to make the rice crust.
    Tip: 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 tsp 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.
  • Steam the rice and lentil layers together for 15 to 20 minutes.

STOVE TOP METHOD

  • Boil 6 cups of water with 1 tbsp salt. Add the basmati rice and let it boil at medium high to high heat for 5-6 minutes until the rice grains are soft. Be sure to stir the rice while it is cooking. Drain the rice well in a colander and set aside.
  • RICE CRUST (optional, skip to step 4 if not making this): Add a tbsp of oil or butter to a heavy bottomed/non stick cooking pot and spread it. Take about 1/2 cup of cooked rice and mix it with the yogurt and 2 tsp of saffron water. 
  • Spread the rice-yogurt mixture over the oil in the pot to make the rice crust.
    Tip: 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 tsp 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. Be sure to also sprinkle the remaining tbsp of oil on the top.
  • 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.

SERVING LENTIL RICE

  • Once the rice is ready, turn off the heat. Gently and lightly mix the layers of the Persian lentils and 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.
  • Persian style lentils and rice with cranberries goes well with a yogurt salad such as Persian yogurt dip with shallots.

Video

Notes

  1. To make the rice crust you will need to use a conventional heavy bottomed cooking pot, a non stick pot or a Persian rice cooker.
  2. Cooking time and water used for white basmati rice may vary with the age of rice.
  3. Rinse the basmati rice several times, until the water is clear and not starchy.
  4. The amount of water added while cooking the rice is very important to the final texture of this recipe.
  5. 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.
  6. Advieh, the Persian spice mix is available at Persian or middle eastern stores and online.
  7. For more tips, check out the blog post above.

Nutrition

Serving: 0g | Calories: 315kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 206mg | Potassium: 416mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1230IU | Vitamin C: 6.8mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 2.7mg