Nohutlu Pilav – Enjoying Turkish Street Food With A View Of Izmir

Ahhh, 2013 and it looks like we’re starting the year as we mean to go on. In our last post, we said we hit the ground running where the blog was concerned. We also told you about our new Turkish food photo Friday series for 2013…and here we are, running so fast that we don’t know what day it is…and doing our very first food photo Friday of the year on a Saturday. Surprised? No, neither are we!

Anyway, let’s get things under way right now before Sunday comes.

Turkish Street Food: Nohutlu Pilav

Turkish Street Food: Nohutlu Pilav or Chickpeas With Rice

The chicken flavours the rice and chickpeas

Nohutlu pilav (chickpeas with rice) is a classic Turkish street food that is perfect for people like us who travel on a strict budget. When we were in Izmir back in August / September, we made a determined effort to climb the ridiculously steep streets to the castle on the hill, Kadifekale.

Mission accomplished and photos taken, we started to make our way back down and spotted a street food trader selling nohutlu pilav by the side of the road. Lunch time!Our trader was an amiable chap (Izmir is very much like that) and waffled away to us while we did our best to keep up with the gist of what he was saying.

We ordered two portions of nohutlu pilav and the the rice was scooped and packed into plastic tubs. Next, one of the chicken crowns was taken and bits were shredded off with a fork and placed over the top of the rice.”Turşu ister misiniz?” (Do you want pickles?)

Well, you can guess our answer to that question. We’d had our eye on the pickled chillies all the time we were queueing. “Lütfen.” (Please).

A look of friendly concern fell over the man’s face as he stressed, “Acı, acı.”This is the motion we have to go through almost every time we try to purchase street food in Turkey. The trader feels the need to warn the unsuspecting foreigner that chillies are hot and are you really sure you want them.

Polite smiles and a resolute yes and the pickled chillies were reluctantly placed atop the chicken and rice.

Turkish Food - Chicken With Chickpeas & Rice

Our serving of nohutlu pilav

Where this fear of serving chillies to foreigners has come from, we have no idea – but it happens almost everywhere we go; sometimes getting to the point where we have to be really insistent that we’re fully aware of the heat factor in chillies and please just give them to us.

It all makes for keeping life in Turkey interesting when you can predict the conversation you’re going to need to have when ordering street food…and imagine the surprise when the trader just ladles the chillies on without your pleadings. That has happened on the odd occasion, and we walk away with a feeling of wonders-will-never-cease.

So, all you people who travel Turkey on a budget, how much is your filling (and healthy) tub of rice, chickpeas, shredded chicken and pickled chillies going to set you back?

We paid a fantastic 2 TL (about 75 pence) per portion. How’s that for a bargain? We wandered off to a breezy clearing at the top of the hill, found a vandalised bench amongst swirling bits of litter and were immediately joined by a scraggy street cat. Our bench overlooked much of Izmir and the bay. Armed with plastic forks, we tucked into our nohutlu pilav, treating the cat to occasional tiny bits of chicken. Bliss!

Fancy recreating this Turkish street food at home? Try our recipe for Nohutlu Pilav


  1. . . we’re the same when on the road – lokanta food is our choice most of the time – fresh, tasty and cheap!

  2. delicious looking nohutlu pilav!! you must have read my mind, as i just made some and added leftover veg in it – love nohutlu pilav :)

  3. It’s good to hear that in some places locanta food is still locanta priced. We would probably pay 10 TL in Bodrum.

  4. oh yum..i would love this!

  5. @ Alan: Well the thing is, street food and lokanta foods are usually the best. It’s very rare we go to a restaurant in Turkey and enjoy the meal more than the street foods.

    @ Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Yes, think we might start experimenting with it at home, too. :)

  6. @ BacktoBodrum: We found all the food in Izmir to be really reasonable. It’s a good place to be on a budget. :)

    @ Jaz: Yes, it was a lovely lunch, especially with the view. :)

  7. l love nohutlu pilav :)) lm from İzmir. Made me hungry at 2.30 am :)

  8. @ armoni: Sorry to make you hungry. Yes, we loved the nohutlu pilav too. :)

Speak Your Mind