We’ve been meaning to do a recipe for what we call Turkish rice for a long time now but it’s taken till last night for me to get round to actually making some.(It’s real name is şehriyeli pilav.) If you’re familiar with Turkish food, you’ll know that rice features quite heavily in many of the main meals. A lot of the Turkish recipes I follow usually end with, ‘serve with rice’ and if you go to a lokanta (a type of Turkish restaurant), whichever dish you order, it’s highly likely that you’ll be asked whether you would like a side serving of rice to go with it.
Thankfully, Turkish rice is very tasty. Whenever our friends come over to Fethiye to visit us, they always say, ‘I can’t wait to have some of that Turkish rice.’ (They must be sick of eating the ‘quick cook’ rice for sale in the British supermarkets!) One of our Turkish friends is an amazing cook (and loves to cook) but her husband says he’s happy just eating Turkish rice with yoghurt – surely a good example of how rice is much-loved by some in Turkey (even if it does drive our friend round the bend!)
So, it was becoming increasingly difficult to live in Fethiye and not be able to produce a good bowl of Turkish rice for the table whenever we had friends round for dinner. A couple of years ago, I asked my friend how she made it and I’ve made it this way ever since. So here is our friend’s recipe for Turkish rice – with a tiny little change by us.
Turkish Rice Recipe
- Heat a glug of olive oil in a deep pan on a low heat. (This is the change by us. The traditional way is to melt a knob of butter but I find the butter a little too rich).
- Next, add around 3 dessert spoonfuls of şehriye (orzo) to the pan. (I had never seen this till we came to Fethiye. It’s a type of pasta and if you’re outside Turkey and can’t find it, vermicelli can also be used).
- Stir the şehriye and watch it carefully, as you are looking for a change of colour. As soon as you notice the slight change in colour, add a cup of rice (we use a coffee / tea mug) and keep stirring for a few minutes. (Remember to keep it on a medium to low heat or else the rice, and particularly the şehriye, will burn.)
- After a few minutes, add 2 mugs of water. Use the same sized coffee mug as you used for the rice.
- There’ll be a big sizzle and the water will bubble up. Turn up the heat and bring the water to the boil, fully.
- Give the rice a couple of stirs, cover and return the heat to medium / low.
- Leave it to simmer for 8-10 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the pan covered for another 5 minutes.
- When you remove the lid, fork through the rice to make it fluffy and then serve it with whatever exciting Turkish food you have made.
(This recipe makes enough rice to serve as a side dish for four people. However much you decide to make, the easy thing to remember is you just use twice as much water as rice and it should cook perfectly.)
If you’re interested in Turkish cookery, then you will like this book which is available from Amazon…