Two main species are found in Iran: common (ʿadas-e maʿmūlī, Lens culinaris) and oriental (ʿadas-e ābī, Lens orientalis). The common lentil grows wild in northwest, east, south and southeast Iran, while the oriental lentil grows around Tehran to the north, west, south and southeast. Used extensively in Persian cuisine, lentils are a major source of protein for the poor. Only the large gray variety, known as French lentils or lentille large blonde, is used. Among the most popular dishes employing lentils is ʿadas-polow: Rice and lentils are cooked separately, then mixed together for the final steaming process, and usually served with chicken or lamb. The dark specks of lentils in the white rice add color as well as flavor; sometimes toasted slivered almonds are sprinkled on top. A less elegant variety mixes tiny meatballs with the rice. Because lentils are inexpensive, ʿadas-polow is considered a family rather than a company dish. Lentils are also used in different kinds of soups, the best known of which are āš-e rešta and āš-e ǰow: Lentils are mixed with other dried legumes, onions, rice, barley, green herbs, and spices to make a thick, filling soup which, served with bread, is a complete meal. Sometimes these soups have a small amount of meat added, usually lamb shank. A less well known variety is āš-e ʿadas, a variation on the same theme, but with a heavier concentration of lentils and a smaller amount of chick peas and beans. The aroma of ʿadasī, frequently sold in stalls on street corners, can permeate an entire block: The lentils are boiled until tender, onions are added with salt and pepper, and the dish is simmered until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils have a thick, almost soupy consistency. A small amount of butter is sometimes added to enhance the flavor.
A. Parsa, Flore de l’Iran II, Tehran, 1948, p. 457; VIII, 1960, p. 110.
N. Ramazani, Persian Cooking, New York, 1974.
(A. Parsa and N. Ramazani)
About fifty species of ʿadas-e waḥšī (Vicia) grow in Iran, including the following: Gāvdāna, bitter vetch (Vicia ervilia), cultivated in many places and considered a good forage. Bāqalā, horse bean, lima bean, or broad lima bean (Vicia faba), a native of Iran and universally cultivated. Māšak, tiny vetch (Vicia hirsuta), a good fodder. ʿAdas-e waḥšī-e maʿmūlī, common or spring vetch (Vicia sativa), a winter annual known as tares, native to Eurasia. It grows wild in the north and west of Iran and is cultivated for hay, silage, green feed, pasture, and seed. ʿAdas-e korkdār, hairy or winter vetch (Vicia villosa), a native of Iran, found in the north, northwest, west, east, and central parts of the country and utilized mainly for seed and green manure. ʿAdas-mūšūk or mūšūk (Vicia peregrina), growing in the north, west, northwest and central parts of the country. ʿAdas-e waḥšī-e Īrān, Persian vetch (Vicia persica), in the north and northwest. ʿAdas-e zard or ḵolar, yellow vetch (Vicia lutea), in the littoral of the Caspian sea. ʿAdas-e Ḵazar, Caspian vetch (Vicia hyrcanica), in the north, west, and northwest. Jūrvāǰūr ʿadas (Vicia variegata), called zabān vāš in Lāhīǰān and molholī in Khorasan. ʿAdas-e barg bārīk, bramble vetch (Vicia tenuifolia), called māšaka in Ardahāl and mūšūkū in Jahrom.
A. Parsa, Flore de l’Iran II, Tehran, 1948, pp. 439-56; VII, 1959, pp. 204-05.
(A. Parsa and N. Ramazani, A. Parsa)
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 22, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 4, p. 448