Adas Quinoa with Vegan Yoghurt

This is my take on the Persian dish called Adas Polo, which literally means lentil rice. Growing up, this was one of my favourite meals so it is the ultimate comfort food for me. I've replaced the rice with quinoa and made a non-dairy yoghurt to go along side it. The combination of savoury and sweet tones are what make Persian food so unique and so reminiscent of home cooked meals enjoyed with my family.

Quinoa is a wonderful source of essential amino acids which makes it a complete source of plant protein. It is also high in minerals such as magnesium, zinc and potassium as well as fibre, and a group of antioxidants called flavanoids.

Lentils, like quinoa are high in plant protein, and are a great source of iron. They also contain folic acid, and Vitamin B-complex, which are essential for your body.

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After being brought up eating yoghurt almost everyday, I have now cut it out of my diet completely. So when I made this simple recipe it was a revelation, all the soothing familiar flavours came back to me and it was delightful! You can also add in one diced up cucumber to make a mast-o-khiar, which is the Iranian version of tzatziki.

This plant powered, protein packed dish is a definite winner, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Adas Quinoa Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

  • 1 1/2 cups dried green lentils
  • 2 1/2 cups water (approx.)
  • 2 cups white quinoa
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Pinch ground up of saffron threads, steeped in 3-4 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or any other oil with high smoke point such as safflower oil)
  • 1 large white onion, cut in slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 1/3 cup yellow sultanas/raisins Himalayan pink salt (or sea salt) and black pepper to taste
  • Sumac powder to taste (optional)

Vegan Yoghurt Ingredients

  • Handful of cashew nuts
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 6-8 tablespoons water
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Dried mint leaves
  • Dried rose petals (optional)
  • 1 small cucumber, diced (optional)

Method

Pick over the lentils, making sure there aren't any stones and discarding any shrivelled lentils. Rinse and place in a medium saucepan along with approximately 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cover and leave to cook for 20 mins or so, until the lentils are cooked through. Drain any excess liquid and set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium pan, add the chopped onion and cook on medium/high heat until they turn translucent, then reduce the heat to medium/low. Add the turmeric along with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Leave to caramelise, stirring occasionally, for approximately 25 mins. Then add the dates and cook for 2-3 minutes, remove from heat and mix in the sultanas/raisins.

Rinse the quinoa, at least 3-4 times, this gets rid of the bitter taste. Drain in a sieve then transfer to a large pot along with the 4 cups vegetable stock, a couple pinches of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and leave to cook with the lid on for 15 mins. Once all the liquid has evaporated pour the saffron liquid over it, put the lid back on and set aside for 5 mins. Then using a fork gently fluff the quinoa.

Make the yoghurt by combining all the ingredients, except for the dried mint, rose petals, and cucumber if using, in a blender and blitz until smooth, adding more water if needed. Transfer to a bowl, taste to adjust seasoning and sprinkle with crushed dried mint and rose petals.

Add the lentils to the pot of quinoa and gently combine. When you're ready to eat, transfer to a large plate, cover with caramelised onions, dates and sultanas, then sprinkle a couple pinches of sumac, if using, over the top and serve alongside the yoghurt.

Enjoy!