Turkish rice (şehriyeli pilav) – definitely one of the most famous dishes in Turkey!
If you’re familiar with Turkish food, you’ll know that rice features quite heavily in the eating process. A lot of Turkish recipes end with, ‘serve with rice’.
If you go to a lokanta (a type of Turkish restaurant), whichever dish you choose from the bain marie, it’s highly likely that you’ll be asked whether you would like a side serving of rice to go with it.
The rice is never on the same plate; pilav is a dish in itself and is served separately.
As soon as we moved to Turkey, we were keen to get our hands on a Turkish rice recipe!
Thankfully, Turkish rice is very tasty. It’s rich and buttery and is indeed delicious on its own…with a good bowl of natural yoghurt on the side, too.
Whenever our friends come to Fethiye to visit us, they always say, ‘I can’t wait to have some Turkish rice’. It’s a staple side serving in most restaurants so it’s a dish holidaymakers become familiar with straight away.
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. Whilst this makes her mad, it’s surely a good example of how rice is much-loved by many 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.
One night, when we were round at another friend’s house for food we stood watch in the kitchen as she prepared different dishes. And we studied her method for how to make Turkish rice.
Since that time we’ve followed and adapted her methods to make our own Turkish rice recipe work for us.
Turkish Rice – About The Ingredients
Before moving to Turkey, we had no idea what şehriye was. And, when we were in restaurants, eating meals, we always wondered what those ‘brown bits’ were in our servings of Turkish rice.
Well, those ‘brown bits’ are orzo (şehriye) and are a type of pasta, as you can see in the photo below. Some Turkish rice recipes will use vermicelli, instead. Both are quite common.
When you are sauteeing your orzo, it’s important that you keep a close eye on it, as, once it starts to brown, it can burn very quickly and will ruin the flavour of your pilav dish.
If you are using vermicelli, it will brown quicker. Add your rice immediately after you notice the change in colour and keep stirring.
If you are in Turkey and you want to make Turkish rice, there are different varieties of rice you can buy to suit different purposes.
The best type to buy for şehriyeli pilav is a rice with grains of medium length, called Baldo Pirinç.
Our Turkish Rice Recipe
This is a quicker version to the completely traditional method of making şehriyeli pilav. But we’ll explain more about that at the end.
This is a method that works well for us. And, based on lots of feedback over the years, this recipe works for others, too.
Let’s make rice pilaf…
Our Turkish Rice Recipe
- 1 cup rice we use a standard tea/coffee mug
- 2 tbsp orzo or şehriye or vermicelli
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 cups hot water or stock
- Heat your butter in a deep saucepan over a low heat.
- Now add your şehriye (orzo) to the pan and stir around for a few minutes until you see it start to change colour.
- As soon as you notice the orzo start to go brown, add your cup of rice and continue to stir. Remember to keep the pan over a low heat and keep stirring, otherwise your rice and orzo will burn.
- After 3-4 minutes, add the water or stock.
- There will be a big sizzle and the liquid will bubble up. Turn up the heat and bring the rice to the boil, fully.
- Once the rice is boiling, give it a couple of stirs around, put a lid on the pan, leaving a small gap, and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Leave your rice to simmer for 8-10 minutes until the water or stock has absorbed.
- Now remove from the heat, put the lid firmly on the pan and leave your Turkish rice to stand for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, remove the lid and fork through your rice.
- If you find the butter too rich in your Turkish rice, we sometimes just use a glug of olive oil. This is not traditional and does change the flavour slightly but it makes or an occasional, tasty variation.
- Whatever size cup you use for your rice, make sure you use the same for your water or stock.
- Calories are approximate and are calculated on using butter and water as opposed to stock.
This recipe for Turkish rice makes enough pilav 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.
So, what about that traditional method we mentioned earlier?
Well, in Turkey, before cooking, people will rinse their rice thoroughly to get rid of all the starch so the rice doesn’t become sticky. Some people will also soak their rice in warm water before cooking.
If you want to cook rice pilaf in this way, you will need to alter cooking times and also the amount of water or stock you use. It’s all down to experimenting, as you will see in some of the comments below.
And, now that you know how to make Turkish rice, why not get some ideas about all of the different sorts of Turkish dishes you can serve with it?