Saturday, 16 February 2013

Turkish 'Kebab' Rice

Turkish food is unfairly underrated in the UK. Most people seem to think that it is 'only' about kebabs. This is unfair for two very fundamental reasons. Firstly, because Turkish food is about so much more; the superb sote dishes, such Guvec (casseroles and stews which are full of flavour); their superb take on pizzas (also known as Pide); one of my personal favourites, Lahmacun and their exceptional sweet and satisfying puddings (think sutluc, baklava and kadayif). Secondly, Turkish food is healthy and nutritious; all their meals are perfect balances of everything you need. And frankly their marinaded meats are to die for! If I were to say French food was only about creamy sauces, you'd tell me that I was incompletely and unfairly generalising, and you'd be right. Yet when it comes to Turkish food, these gross generalisations seem to be tolerated.

When you eat out at Turkish restaurants, the main accompaniments are often salad and rice. This is a great combination, as you get fibre, vitamins, minerals and a dose of carbohydrates to keep you going along with your meaty protein goodness. It's a truly balanced meal, and one that is fairly low in fat since the meat is usually grilled.

If you have ever wanted to make the rice accompaniment, I have been experimenting with getting it right for some time. I first tried to write a recipe for it when I posted my Turkish Cypriot style lamb stew recipe (here But it turned out to be a bit hit and miss, depending on the level of heat from the hob. Another issue was that I had no proper idea of how much oil to use (too much affects the texture of the dish. And there was some fragrance and flavour missing. 

So here is a revised version. You need a saucepan with a well fitting lid, and you need to use a ring on the hob which can be turned down to a very low heat.

Turkish Basic Pilaf (AKA 'Kebab' Rice)
Serves 2


2 heaped tablespoon or around 30g orzo pasta (alternatively capellini corte)
130g Lux Baldo rice
1-2 bay leaves, dried
1 tbsp olive oil
250g or ml water


In a small saucepan (for which you have a good fitting lid), heat the olive oil. You only need a medium heat.

Add the pasta. 

Stir frequently and fry for 2-3 minutes, until the pasta begins to toast and change colour. Turn the heat down if you think the pasta will burn. Or take it off the heat completely. You do not want the pasta to turn more than golden brown. 

Now add the rice and bay leaves. Coat well in the oil and mix the pasta up thoroughly whilst stirring for another 2 minutes.

Now add the water. Bring to a light boil. Turn the heat down to a very low simmer. Mix all the ingredients very thoroughly. Put the lid on the pan. 

Cook with the lid on for 15-17 minutes. You may need to check it after about 10 minutes to stir. You want to ensure the rice at the bottom of the pan does not catch and burn.

After the main cooking time, check the rice is cooked and the water absorbed. 

If not, take the lid off, put the heat on the lowest possible heat setting you can manage, and stirring frequently, heat for a further 2-3 minutes.

Check that the rice is cooked; it should be by now.

Serve with grilled meats or Turkish stews and salad.


  1. To Clare (wherever I may find her),

    A thousand apologies! I wanted to reply to your lovely comment, but wasn't concentrating and managed to delete it instead!

    I am so sorry, and curse my hastiness.

    Thanks for saying you'd give the Kebab rice a try. I hope it works, and maybe you'll get in touch to let me know how it goes?

    And I'll promise to have learnt my lesson and will KEEP your comment here.

    I do really appreciated people who read and comment. Honest.

    Oh dear.... what a fool I am. :(


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