Rice and lentils with dates and raisins

Rice with lentils is one of those dishes that in any culture, brings the memory of home whether you call it Addas polo in Farsi or Arroz con lentejas in Spanish. Here is a most delicious Iranian version with a topping of onion, dates and raisins. The sweet and sour combination is a delight.

The original recipe as seen in this book, calls for cooking the lentils and the rice together, and for adding walnuts. Here I have not used walnuts thinking that it would make the dish too heavy, and I cooked the rice and lentils separately. I also changed a few spices.

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For the lentils
1- Wash one and half cup of brown lentils and let them soak in water. Since San Miguel is almost 2’000 meters in altitude and it takes longer for anything to cook, I let them soak all night.
2- In a large pot, place some olive oil, one teaspoon of cumin, one teaspoon of cilantro seeds crushed, a little bit of cinnamon grated, one teaspoon of turmeric, one teaspoon of black pepper crushed and some fresh ginger root smashed or grated. When the spices start giving their aroma, add the lentils with the water and add more water to make sure all the lentils are covered.
3- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook until the lentils are done. About 25 minutes.

For the date and raisin topping
1- Slice half a red onion in very thin slices. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt and a little bit of flour.
2- In a small pan, place a little bit of oil and fry the onion slices until they take a gold color. Add a handful of golden raisins and a handful of dates previously cut in small chunks.
3- Mix well and allow the mix to cook on very low fire (so it does not burn) for about 10 minutes.

For the rice
1- Cook one and half cups of Basmati rice as you would normally do.
2- When the cooking is done, take half a cup of the cooked rice and mix it with three tablespoons of Saffron liquid (recipe here). Return the now yellow rice to the white rice and mix.

To serve: place the rice is a bowl; add the lentils then some of the date and raisin topping. Place a bowl with yoghurt, cumin, fresh mint and cucumbers on the side.

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