Adas Polo ba Kadoo Halvaii is a beautiful and delicious Persian lentil rice with roasted butternut squash, Medjool dates (khorma) and warm spices (advieh). Adas means lentil, polo is rice. Kadoo Halvaii is butternut squash in Farsi, with Kadoo meaning squash and the root of word halva means “sweet.” There are different recipes for adas polo, and I love all of them because adas is one of my favorite legumes with its firm texture and nutty taste. Lentils have very high levels of slowly digested starch and are one of the healthiest legumes for people with high blood sugar levels.
Lentils come in different colors ranging from red to green to dark brown; I have used brown lentils in this recipe. Lentils are very high in protein and dietary fiber and are grown throughout the world. They are eaten in Italy on New Year’s Eve for hopes of prosperity in the new year. The sprouted lentils symbolize rejuvenation and spring and are placed on the Haftseen table in “Nowruz,” the Persian New Year!
Butternut squash is pear shaped with a long neck and is available almost year round in the supermarkets. Butternut squash is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. When fully ripe the flesh is deep orange and sweet and more tender than the acorn squash. The seeds are stored in the round belly. A longer neck means the squash has more flesh and it is preferred when purchasing butternut squash. The yellow skin must be smooth and free of any wrinkles or bruising. This protective skin keeps the squash fresh for a long time as long as it is stored in a cold and dark place. The skin is not as hard as the acorn squash and it can easily be peeled with a regular vegetable peeler, which is a bonus for the everyday cook. The peeled and cubed butternut squash is available in some supermarkets and it should be used within a few days after the purchase.
Adas Polo ba Kadoo Halvaii is a lentil rice mixed with roasted butternut squash and dates. Roasting brings out the sweet flavor in butternut squash. In this recipe I have used slices of butternut squash for my TahDig (bottom of the pot) for a different presentation from the usual bread or saffron yogurt TahDig. The slices of butternut squash toast to a soft TahDig in the bottom of the pot while the rice is steaming. The rice layers are fragrant with warm Persian rice spice (advieh) that is a lovely blend of dried rose petals, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom and nutmeg.
Please refer to the instructions that I have posted previously about cutting the butternut squash. Take all the seeds out of the round belly section. Slice the belly section to about 1/4 inch or a little thicker. Arrange in the bottom of a nonstick 5-Qt stockpot to get an idea how many you need. Take the slices out of the pot and reserve them for TahDig. Cut the remaining squash into about 3/4- inch bite size cubes.
Toss the cubed squash with melted butter, salt, pepper and brown sugar. Roast on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet in a preheated 400 F oven until tender. Stir with a heat proof spatula couple of times.
Fry the sliced onions with a little bit of turmeric. Add medium diced pitted Medjool dates and ground ginger and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with roasted butternut squash and set aside.
The lentils are cooked until tender but still firm, then they are mixed with par cooked Persian Rice, (please click on the link for instructions).
The reserved butternut squash slices are added to the hot oil in the bottom of the nonstick 5-Qt stockpot.
The Adas Polo ba Kadoo Halvaii is layered in this order: Add 1/3 of lentil rice, sprinkle 1/3 of Persian Rice spice, add 1/2 of butternut squash mix. Repeat one more time, then top the whole thing with the remaining lentil rice and rice spice. Dissolve 1/8 tsp ground saffron in 1/8 cup hot water (optional) and pour it over the rice. Cover with Damkesh or a large kitchen towel and steam over medium low heat for one hour
Serve this delicious Adas Polo ba Kadoo Halvaii by itself, as a vegetarian dish with fried eggs in butter (nimroo), or with chicken (morgh). As most Persian meals, a side of Sabzi Khordan (fresh herbs) and torshi (pickled vegetables) go deliciously with this mixed rice. And by all means ENJOY!!
Prep Time: About 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 ½ pounds with skin and seeds)
- 2 TBSP butter, melted
- 1 TBSP brown sugar
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin
- 2 TBSP vegetable oil
- 1 TBSP butter
- ⅛ tsp turmeric
- 7 plump Medjool dates, pitted
- ⅛ tsp ground ginger
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- ⅔ cup lentils, cooked until tender but firm
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 3 TBSP oil
- 2 TBSP butter
- 1 tsp Persian Rice Spice, divided
- Optional ⅛ tsp ground saffron mixed with ⅛ cup hot water
- If serving fried eggs with this rice, fry 1-2 eggs in butter (per person)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F, Center rack. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
- Pick through ⅔ cup lentils and rinse under cold water. Add the lentils to a small saucepan and fill with enough water to cover the lentils by 1 inch. Add ⅛ tsp salt. Cook the lentils until tender but firm. Drain and set aside.
- Take the pits out of 7 large dates and dice them to medium cubes. Set aside.
- Peel and seed the butternut squash. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Slice the larger end a little thicker than ¼ inch. You’re going to use this for TahDig. Line the bottom of a 5-Qt nonstick pot with the sliced squash, leaving as little space between the slices as possible. This is to get an idea how many slices you will need to cover the bottom of the pot. Take the slices out of the pot and reserve for TahDig.
- Cube the rest of the butternut Squash to ¾-inch bite size pieces. Place the cubed squash in a bowl and add the melted butter, salt, pepper and brown sugar. Toss to coat. Arrange the squash pieces on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated 400 F oven for about 25 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
- Meanwhile heat the vegetable oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet. Add the sliced onions and saute over medium heat. When the onion starts turning golden brown on the edges add the turmeric and continue frying until they are rich golden brown. Reduce heat to medium low and add the diced dates and ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger to the fried onions and saute for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with the roasted butternut squash. Set aside.
- Please follow the instructions for cooking the Persian rice up to the point where the rice is par cooked and drained in a colander and rinsed under cold water and drained. Toss the par cooked rice with the cooked lentils. Set aside.
- Add 3 tablespoon oil and 2 tablespoon butter to the same stockpot over medium low heat. Arrange the reserved sliced butternut squash in a single layer in the bottom of the pot.
- Add ⅓ of the lentil rice on top of the squash slices, sprinkle with ⅓ of the Persian Rice Spice, add half the butternut squash and date mixture. Repeat this one more time, then add the remaining lentil rice and rice spice on top.
- (optional) Add ⅛ tsp ground saffron to ⅛ cup of hot water, stir to dissolve. Pour the liquid saffron on top of the layered rice. Cover the lid with a Damkesh or kitchen towel. Steam the rice over medium low heat for 1 hour.
- Serve the Adas Polo ba Kadoo Halvaii by itself, or with eggs fried in butter (Nimroo), or with chicken.