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Pilafs and Rice

Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Onions – Kabakli As

Kabakli as; bulgur pilaf with zucchini and dried mint, wholesome and delicious

Kabakli as; bulgur pilaf with zucchini and dried mint, wholesome and delicious

I am passionate about healthy, wholesome Turkish cuisine; over 90 authentic recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table – Signed hardback copies are now 25 % OFF at this link and delivered worldwide including the USA.

This very easy and tasty bulgur rice makes use of the flesh of the zucchini (courgettes) that was scooped out to make the stuffed zucchini. That way, not only you get to use every bit of zucchini, but also you get a very delicious and wholesome dish in no time. This is a meal by itself, served with some garlic yoghurt, dried mint and cucumbers, Cacik, if you like.

Good, wholesome food doesn’t need to be expensive or difficult, as this wonderful dish shows.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes (+10 min resting)

Flesh of 3 zucchini (courgettes)
1 onion, finely chopped
350gr/12oz bulgur wheat, rinsed and drained
400gr/14oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes
600ml/1 pint/2 1/2 cup hot water
30ml/2 tablespoon olive oil
5ml/1 teaspoon dried mint
5ml/1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and stir in the zucchini and the onions. Cook until the onions softened. Add the bulgur wheat, tossing it thoroughly. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and pour in the hot water. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine thoroughly. Bring to boil for a minute, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until all the liquid has been completely absorbed.

Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean dish towel and press the lid on top. Leave to steam for about 10 minutes. Stir in the dried mint and red pepper flakes then mix with a large spoon.

You can simply enjoy this dish with cucumber, garlic and yoghurt (Cacik) and with the stuffed zucchini with ground meat and chickpeas if you like.

Afiyet Olsun!

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Braised Chicken Rice (with chickpeas) Steamed with All Spice – Nohutlu, Tavuklu Pilav

I very much enjoy reading the food writer Rose Prince’s articles at the Telegraph and was delighted to get her recent cookery book, “Kitchenella; The Secrets of Women: Heroic, Simple, Nurturing Cookery – For Everyone”. The title says it all; a wonderful cookery book that I have been reading like a novel, a celebration of modest everyday cookery yet packed with flavour, as well as nutritious and practical. Just what we need in our busy lives, to provide nurturing home made meals without breaking the bank. I also loved her emphasis on how important for us to hand down recipes and knowledge of good food to our children and loved ones, as this will be the most effective food education they will have. I know my copy of Kitchenella will stay close to me in the kitchen and it is highly recommended. Here are some wonderful recipes from the book that makes a complete meal. Hope you enjoy them and pass them on.

Braised Chicken Rice (with chickpeas) Steamed with All Spice – Nohutlu, Tavuklu Pilav

A very family friendly, delicious and easy to make all in one main course by Rose Prince’s Kitchenella, with my addition of chickpeas. The recipe really reminded me of our very popular street food, rice with chickpeas (with the addition of chicken pieces occasionally) and you can find in street stalls as well as traditional restaurants in Turkey. Rose’s original recipe doesn’t call for chickpeas but there are ideas for many other additions if you’d like. Once cooked, you can serve with salad or plain yoghurt and roasted pine nuts.

The recipe is also great to use left over roast chicken or meat.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

30 ml/2 tablespoons pine nuts
30 ml/2 tablespoons butter or dripping
1 onion, finely chopped
5 allspice pods, crushed in a pestle and mortar, or 1 teaspoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
4 boneless chicken thighs, cut into children’s bite-size pieces (or equivalent of left over roast chicken)
200 gr/7 oz basmati rice, rinsed in a sieve under the cold tap water – or chicken stock to cover – about 1.2 litres/2 pints
160 gr/5 ½ oz cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Coriander (cilantro) leaves to serve

Use a large heavy-based frying pan to cook this dish. Cut out a circle of greaseproof paper or baking parchment that is 1 cm/1/2in larger in diameter than the pan. Place the pan over a medium heat and add the pine nuts. Toast for about 3 minutes shaking the pan from time to time until they are golden. Transfer them to a separate plate.

Put the fat into the pan. When it melts, add the onion and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes or more, stirring, until it is pale golden. Add the spices and the meat and cook for another 2 minutes stirring slowly. Add the rice, stir over the heat for 1 minute, then add enough water or stock to cover to a depth of about 1.5 cm/3/4in. Bring to the boil, turn down so it slowly simmers, then cover with the paper, pressing the paper down on to the surface of the pan’s contents. Leave to cook for about 12-15 minutes, then lift the paper and test a grain of rice to see if it is tender. Give it a few more minutes if not, paper lid on. Add about 100 ml/3 ½ fl oz more water or stock if it seems dry. When the rice is tender, lift off the lid, season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked chickpeas and mix well. Put on the table with a bowl of plain yoghurt, plus the pine nuts, coriander leaves and a salad ( the cucumber and tomato salad works well) if you like.

Note: If you’d like to use dried chickpeas, you need to soak them in plenty of cold water overnight. Next day drain the water and put fresh water, boil for about 1 hour. I use canned precooked chickpeas and it works really well.

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Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Vegetables – Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi

Bulgur wheat pilaf with onions, tomatoes and peppers

Bulgur wheat pilaf with onions, tomatoes and peppers

My cousin asked me recently what to feed his 15 month old baby. Our children have been eating mainly what we have been eating (with the condition of compromising from the seasoning and adding more salt and spices on our own plate), we have been lucky. And that’s what I have suggested to him. Turkish food provides a healthy and balanced diet to the children too and this bulgur pilaf with vegetables would be a healthy and delicious option to give to them – my children enjoy it greatly!

Often confused with cracked wheat, bulgur wheat is a grain made from cooked whole wheat berries, which have had the bran removed, and is then dried in the sun and crushed. As it has already been cooked, it requires little cooking to reconstitute itself. It is available coarsely and finely ground. For pilaf, the coarser type is used, to create a nutty and delicious dish, which is a meal in itself and served with yoghurt. Bulgur has been a major staple in many rural areas in Turkey; during the Ottoman Period, the rice was a very precious commodity that only the rich could afford. This made the bulgur a very popular option and healthy one too. It is reach in fiber and provides good source of protein.

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

350 gr/ 12 oz/ 2 cups of coarse organic bulgur wheat, rinsed and drained
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
15 ml / 1 tablespoon olive oil
30 ml / 2 tablespoons butter
400 gr /14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
600 ml / 1 pint / 2 1/2 cup hot vegetable or chicken stock or water
1 teaspoon salt – please adjust to your taste –
freshly ground black pepper
chopped parsley for garnish – optional-

Rinse the bulgur under cold running water, drain and set a side.

Sauté the chopped onions in olive oil and butter until soft. Add the green bell pepper and chopped tomatoes, cook for another minute. Add the stock (or water) and bring to boil.

Add the bulgur, salt and ground pepper and stir once. Cover and cook over a low heat until the bulgur has absorbed all the stock and stem holes are visible on the surface. It is important not to stir the pilaf during this time. Remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan with a cloth or absorbent kitchen paper and the lid over the top. The bulgur will continue cooking in the steam and the cloth will absorb any excess moisture. Leave to stand covered, for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Delicious and wholesome bulgur wheat with onions, tomatoes and peppers

Delicious and wholesome bulgur wheat with onions, tomatoes and peppers

Fluff up the pilaf with a fork and serve hot, garnished with a sprinkling of chopped parsley if you would like.

Afiyet Olsun,


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