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Our Turkish Rice Recipe

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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 an authentic Turkish rice recipe!

A serving of Turkish Rice. The close up shows a mix of the white rice grains and the brown orzo.
A staple of Turkish cuisine – rice pilaf

Tasty Fluffy Rice

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.

We studied her method for how to make Turkish rice – the Turkish way!

Since that time we’ve followed and adapted her methods to make our own version of the recipe work for us.

This is now our tried and trusted method which gives us the best results.

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 ‘golden brown bits’ were in our servings.

Well, those ‘brown bits’ are orzo (şehriye) and are a type of pasta, as you can see in the photo below.

Some recipes will use vermicelli, instead. Both are quite common.

A pile of uncooked Şehriye (orzo) ready to be used along with the Turkish rice.
Şehriye (orzo) is used in Turkish rice recipes

When you are sauteeing your orzo pasta (aka risoni), it’s important that you keep a close eye on it, as, once it starts to brown, it can burn very quickly.

That 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 with a wooden spoon.

A brown wooden spatula stirs the mix of rice & orzo which is already starting to turn translucent.
The rice and şehriye is sauteed for a few minutes

Baldo Pirinç

If you are in Turkey and you want to make this recipe, there are different varieties and types 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 Rice (Baldo Pirinç).

A close up of the finished steamed white & brown grains.
After steaming, our rice pilaf is now ready to eat

Our Turkish Rice Recipe

This is a quicker version to the completely traditional method of making şehriyeli pilav.

It’s a method that works very well for us.

And, based on lots of feedback over the years, this recipe works for others, too.

This recipe 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.

We tend to use chicken stock (chicken broth), but you can use whatever you have to hand.

It won’t make too much difference to the overall taste of the finished dish.

It’s all down to experimenting, as you will see in some of the comments below.

What is the right type of rice for Turkish rice pilaf?

For us, the best type of rice for Turkish rice pilaf (by far) is Baldo – but other short-grain rice such as Arborio rice or basmati rice will do the trick. Shorter-grain rice has a high starch content, which helps it to cook up fluffy.

Do I need to wash the rice before cooking it?

While it’s not strictly essential (we’ve been guilty of skipping this step on occasion), some people say it can improve the finished dish if you wash the rice before cooking it.

What are some other tips for making Turkish rice?

Don’t stir the rice too much while it is cooking, as that can make it a bit sticky. Also, we’ve found that it’s a good idea to let your rice rest for a few minutes after it is cooked, before fluffing it with a fork.

Let’s make rice pilaf…

A serving of Turkish Rice. The close up shows a mix of the white rice grains and the brown orzo.
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5 from 4 votes

Our Turkish Rice Recipe

A quick and easy recipe for Turkish rice (şehriyeli pilav) which makes a tasty side serving for many Turkish dishes.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Turkish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 122kcal
Author Turkey’s For Life

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice we use a standard tea/coffee mug
  • 2 tablespoons orzo or şehriye or vermicelli
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups hot water or stock

Instructions

  • Heat your butter in a deep saucepan over a low to medium 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.

Notes

  • If you find the butter too rich in your Turkish rice, we sometimes just use a glug of olive oil or vegetable oil. This is not traditional and does change the flavour slightly but it makes for 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.

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?

If for some reason you aren’t a huge fan of rice, then really good alternative Turkish side dishes you could serve up instead of this recipe include kısır, bulgur pilaf and green lentil salad.

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Recipe Rating




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Susan

Saturday 8th of April 2023

Ever since I brought this recipe home from visiting my then fiancé and his family in 2010 Turkiye, my kids refuse to eat rice cooked any other way. I will say that 1 cup raw rice only serves about 2 in our house. We now have 6 living here and I have to cook 3 cups of rice at a time! Also a trick my mother in law taught me is to put a layer of paper towels under the pot lid for about the last 10 minutes. It takes away any stickiness but leaves a tender grain.

Turkey's For Life

Monday 10th of April 2023

Hi Susan, thanks a lot for your comment. Whatever rice we're cooking, these days, we always do it like Turkish rice. Interesting tip about the paper towels. Sometimes, we like a sticky rice but others, it's nice to have the individual grains. :)

Susan Aizenkait

Tuesday 31st of May 2022

Does it work with any kind of rice, or must be a Turkish brand? I live in N. Carolina and can't find Turkish rice (the only USA, Indian rice).

Turkey's For Life

Wednesday 1st of June 2022

Hi Susan, you should be okay to make the Turkish rice with any long grain rice. Just not 'quick cook' rice. Good luck. :)

Virginia

Friday 4th of March 2022

Don’t you wash the rice before you add it to the pan?. Thanks for the recipe.

Turkey's For Life

Saturday 12th of March 2022

Hi Virginia, lots of Turkish people do wash their rice in warm water before adding it to the pan to get rid of some of the starch. Turkish rice is very starchy. We like it to be a bit sticky so most of the time, we just add it straight to the pan. Thanks a lot for the rating. Much appreciated. :)

Barry

Wednesday 21st of July 2021

Great recipe, and I love all the comments! I’m not Turkish, so I guess my way isn’t traditional. I bought some Baldo rice by accident, and ended up here while trying to figure out how to cook it.

Turkey's For Life

Monday 26th of July 2021

Hi Barry, hope you liked the Turkish rice! :) Yes, lots of comments and different ways of cooking the rice. We use a little less water these days - about 1 3/4 cups.

Sheyi Adelasoye

Sunday 14th of March 2021

Thanks. I followed the recipe and it turned out great. I used basmati too as that’s the only rice I had in the cupboard...Can I ask is it a must to wash the rice as I didn’t when I first cooked the it. I was thinking of washing it the next time round but will this effect how much water I need to add?

Turkey's For Life

Monday 15th of March 2021

Hi Sheyi, it really depends on the type of rice you are using and if you are using warm water to wash your rice. Some rice is more starchy than others. Turkish rice tends to be quite starchy which is why lots of people wash the rice first. If you want to do that, you may need to reduce the amount of water a little. Maybe 1 3/4 cups. You will need to experiment with whichever rice you are using. :)

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