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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!



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

  1. jaz January 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    hahaha! i saw that post the other day and i have a chicken just about to come out of the oven! teddy gets a bunch of the white meat for a couple days but all the rest of the meat is going into this dish! it looked so good i just had to make it. thanks for your recipe!

    • Ozlem Warren January 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

      You are a star Jaz, made my day! : ) The leftover chicken work really well in this pilaf with chickpeas. I had leftover brussels sprouts so used them, worked really well. Peas also goes well here, if you’d like to try – great makeover for leftovers!!

  2. jaz January 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    i love the lemon you add and i shall add it too. i am a galic lover so i will be adding plenty of toasted garlic!

    • Ozlem Warren January 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      Why not – love the sounds of toasted garlic : ) I am a huge fan of lemon, glad it works for you too! So look forward to your dish! x ozlem

  3. Turkey's For Life January 11, 2013 at 6:31 am #

    Thanks for the mention and love the look of the photo. 😉 We actually tried to recreate the nohutlu pilav we had in Izmir and it worked out well. Think we’ll try adding extras next time like you’ve done here.

    • Ozlem Warren January 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      My pleasure Julia, many thanks again for the nohutlu pilav street food photo! I hope you enjoyed the spiced up version too 🙂
      x Ozlem

  4. Alida January 11, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Chickpeas are ever so nice and I really love hummus although I never seem to make it in the right way.
    I love the look of the stalls in Turkey. So plenty-full, they make you feel happy just by looking at them.
    Enjoy your weeekend. X

    • Ozlem Warren January 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

      Ciao Alida, street stalls in Turkey are indeed bountiful, freshly cooked and great value! Have a go at the hummus recipe in the blog; you can always adjust the taste to your liking, some like it more lemony (like me!) some with more tahini etc. Let me know if I can help! 🙂 x Ozlem

  5. Peri January 11, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    This sounds wonderful and hearty, Ozlem! And just perfect for winter:) I have some Brussels sprouts on hand, plan to try it this weekend! Xx Peri.

    • Ozlem Warren January 12, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

      Many thanks Peri, anything to spice up the brussels sprouts : ) hope you all enjoy it! xx Ozlem

  6. Phil in the Kitchen January 11, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Delicious as ever and an excellent way to use sprouts. I would definitely add the lemon. (I quite often use preserved lemon in rice dishes too). Of course I always add solid gold balls to all my chickpea dishes.

    • Ozlem Warren January 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

      You are just too kind Phil : ) you will be a very popular host with the solid gold balls in the rice! : )

  7. Peri January 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Hi Ozlem, I’ve nominated you for the Blog of the Year 2012 Award. There’s no obligation to accept or re-post it, this is just my way of saying ‘I enjoy reading your posts and love your recipes’.

    Here’s the link to the award post:

    Have a great year!

    • Ozlem Warren January 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

      Hi Peri, thank you so much, very kind of you that you nominated my blog; and many congratulations to you for your 1st b-day of your blog, what an amazing year has been – look forward to more of your posts, as always : ) xx Ozlem

  8. Julia Cooke January 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Thank you for saying hello on my blog, I love yours so it was like having a celebrity pop by! I was so intrigued that you live in Malmesbury because it is such a beautiful place (isn’t it also the home of the infamous runaway pigs!) and the kind of place I wouldn’t mind being on days when the entire population of Istanbul seems to be doing the same thing I am. We live on Heybeliada and when I arrived four years ago I started going to the pazar with my neighbour each Wednesday and then cooking all afternoon. Sometimes at the moment I really struggle to be motivated to cook with little children but blogs like yours are really helpful and everything looks so beautiful and delicious.

    • Ozlem Warren January 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

      Dear Julia,

      Thank you ever so much for this very kind comment; I am over the moon the blog inspires, my heartfelt thanks to you. I greatly enjoy your blog too and gave a link to yours at mine : ) We lived in Malmesbury 2 years ago, a magical 13 century town with a glorious abbey, hope you make it there one day. I visited Heybeliada many times and stayed ad Halki Palace, a lovely place. Look forward to keeping in touch and many thanks again : )

  9. Julia Cooke January 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Thank you so much for the link, so lovely of you. I have been to Malmesbury a few times when I lived in Bath. Heybeliada was a good introduction to life here for me and in August we are going to live in Galata and I feel ready to be in the heart of the city. Exciting times ahead. Thanks again Ozlem.

    • Ozlem Warren January 21, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

      Merhaba Julia,
      It’s my pleasure; look forward to your posts. You will really enjoy the buzzing Galata area, so much going on! My best wishes, Ozlem


  1. Turkish rice pilaf: so delicious and so simple - Fethiye Times - March 24, 2017

    […] There are some excellent recipes for rice pilaf in a variety of Turkish food blogs… so why not check these out too? One of our favourites is from Özlem’s Turkish Table: chickpea pilaf with chicken and vegetables. […]

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