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Pilafs and Rice

Chickpea Pilaf with Chicken and Vegetables; Turn Your Leftovers into a Complete, Delicious Meal

Chickpea pilaf spiced up with red pepper flakes, chicken and vegetables; healthy and delicious way to turn your leftovers to a complete meal.

Nohutlu pilav, Chickpea Pilaf is a popular street food in Turkey. Street stalls, selling this delicious and great value pilaf, appear at almost every corner in Istanbul and elsewhere; all you need to do is to get a tub of this delicious grub with a few pickles or tursu by the side and your lunch is ready to be enjoyed!

Traditional Nohutlu Pilav, Chickpea Pilav at a street stall in Izmir; photo credit Turkey's For Life.

Just as I was preparing my version of the chickpea pilaf, I enjoyed reading the wonderful blog Turkey For Life’s delicious adventure in Izmir, where they had the nohutlu pilav; please have a look,  a great read : )

The story of Nohutlu Pilaf goes back to the Ottoman Period. According to Ghillie Basan’s  The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking, Mahmut Pasha, the Grand Vizier of Mehmet the Conqueror, used to invite his Ministers to lunch every Friday, where he would serve a special mound of rice and chickpea pilaf at the end of the meal. As each minister dipped into the rice with his spoon, solid gold balls the same size as the chickpeas would be revealed, bringing good fortune to those who managed to one on their spoon.

A few red pepper flakes add a lot of flavor to the chickpeas, onions and chicken.

We do have more than our fair share of chickpeas in our house, as we eat hummus almost daily. This time I used the chickpeas in pilaf, to finish off the leftover vegetables and roast chicken we had recently. I love the original chickpea pilaf and its gorgeous buttery taste. At this version, I spiced the original nohutlu pilaf up a little. I sautéed the onions with our leftover chicken roast and Brussels sprouts with olive oil and red pepper flakes, then combined this with pilaf and chickpeas, which made a complete meal (A Japanese study has shown that adding spice & chilli to your meal reduces your appetite, another good reason to incorporate spices to your diet).

Chilli or red pepper flakes not only add a lot of flavor to your dishes, it also helps you to loose weight.

The pilaf was a delicious combination and we managed to finish all the leftovers; seeing the brussels sprouts especially disappearing at the children’s plate was a joy! You can any other vegetables of your choice here (peas work well too) and can also serve the vegetables by the side if you prefer that way. For a vegetarian option, simply omit the meat.

Chickpea pilaf with chicken and vegetables; a great makeover for your leftovers!

You can enjoy this delicious pilaf; Cacik – Cucumber & yoghurt with dried mint- or the refreshing Shepherd”s Salad would also complement well. Hope you enjoy this nohutlu pilav with a twist, Afiyet Olsun!

Serves 4-6

Preparation time:                20 minutes                            Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

100gr/4oz cooked left over chicken or your choice of meat, cut in stripes or small chunks

350gr/12oz long grain rice, rinsed and drained (you can use wholegrain basmati rice for gluten-free version)

100gr/4oz cooked chickpeas*, rinsed

100gr/4oz cooked (left over) peas or brussel sprouts, halved

2 medium onions, finely chopped

Juice of ½ lemon –optional-

15ml/1tbsp butter

30ml/2 tbsp olive oil

750ml/1 ¼ pints/3 cups chicken stock or water

5-10ml/1-2 tsp Turkish red pepper flakes/ chilli flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

*If you like to use dried chickpeas, you need to soak them in plenty of cold water a night before. The next day, drain the chickpeas, put them in a pan and fill with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat, partially cover the pan. Simmer the chickpeas for about 45 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse well under cold running water.

Saute onions in olive oil and stir in the chicken and red pepper flakes,

Pour the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the onion and cook until it softens. Add the cooked chicken pieces and red pepper flakes, and combine well. Toss the cooked peas or brussels sprouts with the mixture and stir in the lemon juice (Being a lemon fan, I like the zing and the refreshing taste lemon juice brings to the dish. You can skip this if you prefer to). Season with salt and ground pepper. Cover and cook under low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn off the heat.

Chickpeas go well with onions, chicken and brussels sprouts.

In a separate pan, gently melt the butter. Add the rice and the stock or water. Season with salt and pepper, give a good stir and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, partially cover the pan and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Then turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean tea towel and put the lid tightly on top. This will help rice to steam and the tea towel will absorb any excess moisture.

Stir in the cooked pilaf rice to the chickpeas with chicken and vegetables mixture, combine them well.

I hope you enjoy it, Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

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Give Bulgur a Chance and Create Delicious, Satisfying Meals

If you have been following this blog for a while, you must have noticed that bulgur wheat is often used in Turkish cuisine. In addition to its great health benefits, (like it’s wholegrain and high in fiber), I love its delicious, nutty taste and that it is so easy to create a variety of delicious meals with it in no time.

Kisir; Bulgur Wheat Salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses - tastes even better the next day!

Bulgur wheat unlike cracked wheat, is a grain made from the cooked wheat berries which have the bran removed, and are then dried and pounded. There are two varieties generally available, fine and coarse. The coarse type is used for pilaff and fine bulgur is used in salads. Take this wonderful Bulgur wheat salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses, Kisir. It is ‘a bowl of health’, refreshing and taste even better the next day!

Stuffed Zucchini (Courgettes), and Peppers with Bulgur, Southern Turkish Style

How about stuffing vegetables with bulgur? A popular way to enjoy Bulgur, especially at the Middle and Southern part of Turkey, a delicious and satisfying meal with some plain yoghurt by the side.

Potato and Bulgur patties with pomegranate molasses, a wonderful appetizer

Bulgur also features quite a lot in Turkish appetizers. These Potato and Bulgur patties are one of my favorite mezzes; they are scrumptious dipped on pomegranate molasses (or good balsamic vinegar).

Spicy Lentil and Bulgur soup with dried mint and vegetables

Bulgur can be a part of hearty, delicious soups too, like this Spicy Bulgur and Lentil Soup. It is common for this soup to be enjoyed as part of breakfast in Anatolia, central part of Turkey.

Bulgur is healthy, delicious, affordable and now widely available. I hope you can give bulgur a chance, you won’t be disappointed. If you are already enjoying bulgur, I wonder what your favorite bulgur recipe is, would you share with us?

Here is a new, delicious recipe featuring bulgur; it has been a great hit at my recent Cooking Class, I hope you enjoy it too.

Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Sautéed Almonds

In Central Anatolia, bulgur wheat is eaten far more than the rice. We like to add vegetables and sometimes nuts to bulgur, like in this recipe. Sautéed almonds give a lovely texture and flavor to bulgur. This pilaff can be a meal by itself, why not serving with Shepherd’s Salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, drizzled with olive oil?

Bulgur Wheat with sauteed almonds

 

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 10 minutes            Cooking time: 20 minutes (+10 min resting)

350gr/12oz bulgur wheat, rinsed and drained

75gr/3oz/3/4 cup blanched or flaked almonds

600ml/1 pint/2 1/2 cup hot water

30ml/2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Handful of fresh herbs (like parsley or coriander), chopped to serve

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the bulgur, tossing it thoroughly. Pour in the hot water, season with salt and pepper and combine well. Bring to the boil for 1-2 minutes, then reduce the heat and cover the pan. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been completely absorbed.

Turn the heat off, cover the pan with a paper or tea towel and place the lid on top. Leave to steam for a further 10-15 minutes.

A nuts stall in Levent Market, Pazar - Istanbul. Nuts have an important part in Turkish cuisine (and it is OK to have a little siesta in hot summers day!)

 

Sauteed almonds

In the meantime, heat the rest of the oil in a small pan and stir in the almonds. Gently sauté the almonds for 3-4 minutes, until they are golden (take care, as they can burn quickly).

Stir in the sautéed almonds to the bulgur pilaff, mix well. Serve hot with chopped parsley, coriander, or dill on top. You can also enjoy this dish with Shepherd’s Salad of cucumber, tomatoes and peppers, with a drizzle of olive oil.

Ideally, I would love to eat my bulgur overlooking to fascinating Istanbul; if we can’t be there for the moment, hopefully the photo may provide some ambiance.

Imagine being by the Bosphorus, Istanbul over looking the Topkapi Palace and floating ferries, Vapur

Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

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Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Sautéed Mushrooms, Peas and Tomatoes – Mantarli, Bezelyeli Bulgur Pilavi

We consume a good amount of bulgur wheat in Turkish cuisine – in the form of salads, soups and pilaf rice – and I am always on the look out for spicing up bulgur. Packed with fiber and vitamins and low on fat, bulgur is a very healthy option and can be very delicious too. This time I experimented bulgur with sautéed mushrooms; the meaty, juicy flavor of mushrooms worked really well with bulgur. If you can add a few more vegetables into the mix and grate some parmesan (or any hard cheese you prefer) over, this dish could be a wonderfully satisfying, easy and delicious supper. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Bulgur wheat pilaf with sauteed mushrooms and vegetables; wholesome and delicious.

Bulgur wheat pilaf with sauteed mushrooms and vegetables; wholesome and delicious.

Serves 4- 6
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

4 garlic gloves, crushed and finely chopped
3 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
45gr/1/2 cup frozen peas
350 gr/12 oz bulgur wheat, rinsed and drained
600gr/1 pint/2 1/2 cups hot water
30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil – and an extra drizzle for the bulgur

A squeeze of lemon

5ml/1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Grated parmesan (or any hard cheese you prefer) to serve

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy pan. Stir in garlic and chopped mushrooms, and season with salt generously (mushrooms and garlic go very well and the salt helps the water to come out of mushrooms). Sauté for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms soften and start to loosen up. Add the dried oregano and a squeeze of lemon and mix well. Turn the heat off, leaving it a side.


On a separate pot, drizzle a little olive oil and add the bulgur and chopped tomatoes, tossing thoroughly over low heat. Add the hot water, season with salt and ground pepper. Stir to combine thoroughly. Bring to boil for 1-2 minutes, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 8 minutes. At this time stir in the frozen peas to bulgur mixture and stir to combine. Then cover and simmer for a further 3-4 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and add the sautéed mushrooms into the mixture and combine well. Cover the pan with a paper towel and press the lid on top. Leave to steam for a further 10 minutes.

Bulgur wheat pilaf with mushrooms and vegetables - ready for your enjoyment

Bulgur wheat pilaf with mushrooms and vegetables – ready for your enjoyment

Serve the bulgur pilaf with some grated parmesan over the top. You can serve some steamed vegetables by the side if you would like too.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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