Posted in Biryanis, Pilafs and Rice based Dishes, Recipes

Turkish Spiced Pilaf!

Winter brings with it, the bounty of verdant greens in addition to that chill and nip in the air. And that means, I am sometimes inspired to cook with those greens, precisely those ones whom I will turn up my nose to at other times. Okay, inspired is a too serious word for some one like me ( I am not rally dedicated to cooking, no matter what is seems ) , but you get the point right.

Call it Afghan Dill Rice or Turkish Spiced Pilaf, this dill flavored rice is too good to ignore. The inspiration for this was Mona ( @mmskitchenbites ), who is one of the warmest and kindest souls i have met, and who lovingly typed down and shared this neat and precise recipe for me yesterday. Its a mild flavored, aromatic Pilaf with which has dill, mint, saffron and raisins among many other things. I served it with Pancar Esmezi or Turkish Beetroot dip which is a beautiful take on our very own Beetroot Raita. The recipe is from Rick Stein's ( @rick_stein ) From Venice To Istanbul – the flavors of Silk Route. And of course, some onion slices for my Indian taste buds! 😉 Thank you so much Mona! I took a few minor liberties such as adding raisins and mint, but the procedure is exactly the way you described it! A big 👍👍 a heartfelt thanks to the recipe, which definitely a keeper! 😍 Recipe: Serves 2 Ingredients: 3/4th to 1 cup of long grained Basmati Rice, washed and rinsed till water runs clear, soaked for about 20 mins, *see notes2 tbsp + 1 tbsp of oil1 medium onion, thinly sliced,1 green chilly, medium heat, finely chopped,2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced,1 stick cinnamon, optional,Salt to taste, about 1/2 to 1 tsp, adjust as per your taste,freshly ground pepper, to taste,4 tbsp fresh dill, ( સુવા in Gujarati, सोआ in Hindi ), finely chopped, *see notesA small handful of mint, finely chopped,2-3 tbsp raisins, optional,pinch of saffron, soaked in warm milk for about 10 mins, optional,freshly squeezed lemon juice,  or slices of lemon as garnish Method: in comments below. #turkishpilaf #afghanrice #dill #mint #beetroot #flavorsofsilkroute #dillrice #pilaf #turkishbeetrootdip #beetrootraita #weekendlunch #vegetarian #vsco #vscocam #vscofood #curd #vegetarian #lightdinner #whatsfordinner #whatsonmyplate #whatvegetarianseat #weekendkitchentrials #foodiechronicles #igers #igersbangalore

A post shared by Srujan Desai (@d.srujan) on

One of those things that I was mortally afraid of was Dill. I was exposed to a very few of its preparations unfortunately in my childhood and young adulthood. So, I abhorred its smell. But, slowly and gradually that Pandora Box called food blogs and recipe books opened and I became more aware of how wonderful a herb dill is. And so, that food lover’s itch about cooking with dill set in pretty soon after that.

Also, I happen to have some of the most awesome folks in this world on social media who graciously answered my pleas for ways to cook with dill. And one of them wonderful people was Mona,  who blogs at MM’s Kitchen Bites . She typed this awesome recipe of Afghan Dill Rice for me in a very short time in response to my plea. And therefore, it is only fair that I dedicate all the credit of this awesome recipe to her. Do head to her space as the notes that she has penned down are awesome. I have made minor additions to the recipe which are loosely derived from Rick Stein’s recipe of the Turkish Spiced Pilaf from his book “From Venice to Istanbul”.

This pilaf and the Turkish Beetroot Dip will make a perfect meal under 45 mins for the weekends when we crave a change from the routine and yet cringe at the thought of spending more time holed in the kitchen.

Recipe:

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 3/4th to 1 cup of long grained Basmati Rice, washed and rinsed till water runs clear, soaked for about 20 mins, *see notes
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced,
  • 1 green chilly, medium heat, finely chopped,
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced,
  • 1 stick cinnamon, optional,
  • Salt to taste, about 1/2 to 1 tsp, adjust as per your taste,
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste,
  • 4 tbsp fresh dill, ( સુવા in Gujarati, सोआ in Hindi ), finely chopped, *see notes
  • A small handful of mint, finely chopped,
  • 2-3 tbsp raisins, optional,
  • pinch of saffron, soaked in warm milk for about 10 mins, optional,
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice,  or slices of lemon as garnish.

Method:

  1. In a large pot, boil 3-4 cups of water and add a tsp of water. Add the soaked rice. Let it cook for anywhere between 6-10 minutes, taking off the heat when it is about 80% cooked. That is it sticks a bit to your teeth when bitten into, but is almost cooked and is holding its shape. Drain the water and transfer into a colander.
  2. Once it is slightly cooler, mix in a tbsp of oil, chopped dill and some mint. Mix lightly with hands without breaking the grains.
  3. In a deep, thick bottomed/non-stick pan, heat the rest of the oil. Add the garlic, chilli and the cinnamon stick if using. Add the onion and let them cook until they start caramelizing slightly, turning light brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the raisins.
  4. Now add 50% of the rice and mix lightly. Layer the rice in a thick layer at the bottom.
  5. Meanwhile, mix the saffron soaked in milk with the remaining rice. Mix lightly with hands. Make another layer with this saffron flavored rice on top of the previous one. You can also layer this saffron flavored rice in the shape of a mound instead of a flat layer. Drizzle a few tbsp of milk or water.
  6. Cover the mouth of the pan with a tea towel, place a lid. If the lid isn’t a tight fit, you can place some weight on top of it. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 5 mins.
  7. Take it off the flame and let it rest for a few more minutes.
  8. Serve hot with a Raita or a Daal or curry of our choice. You can also try the Turkish Beetroot Dip with the pilaf which is a wonderful variant of the Indian Raita.

Notes:

  • Adjust the amount of rice per person, based on your regular usage.
  • If you are new to cooking with dill, like I am, do not go overboard with dill. Traditionally, the Middle Eastern Cuisine uses a lot of dill. But, dill is a very strong smelling and tasting herb. So, gradually increase the amount of dill once you are comfortable.
  • Usually, the cooking oil is olive oil, but you may use butter or any neutral smelling oil for cooking too.
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