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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!

Ozlem

 

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Turkish Bean Stew with Chicken; Tavuklu Kuru Fasulye and more

Pulse, beans and legumes  are very popular at home as wholesome meals and  mezzes – such as this  Warm hummus with red pepper flakes infused olive  oil made from chickpeas, tahini, cumin and extra virgin olive oil. Have you ever had hummus served warm? That’s the way we enjoy hummus especially in southern Turkey, warming the hummus brings out the wonderful flavors of tahini, cumin and olive oil, and it is just delicious.

This bean salad with tomatoes, olives, red onion slices and olives is wonderful for lunch or a side dish for grilled meat.

How about this delicious and substantial Turkish bean salad with eggs, olives, onions, and tomatoes; Fasulye Piyazi, for lunch ? We like to serve this salad along with grilled meatballs at home, such a delicious, healthy treat.

Kuru Fasulye; one of the most traditional Turkish dishes, wholesome and so delicious.

This week, I wanted to share our delicious traditional bean stew, Kuru Fasulye.  This bean stew  is very popular at Turkish homes as well as in our traditional restaurants, lokantas. Traditional lokantas in Turkey are also called Esnaf Lokantasi; as the workers used to come to these restaurants for their lunch break- is a wonderful concept.

Fehmi Lokantasi in Kadikoy; delicious, precooked meals all lined up – so many choices!

Have ever been to the vibrant and ever so colorful Kadikoy district in Istanbul? The market is wonderful with the fresh produce and friendly lokantas around.  This is Fehmi Lokantasi in Kadikoy, with mouthwatering displays of ready to eat stews, rice, vegetables cooked in olive oil and many more.

Delicious displays of casseroles, fresh beans cooked in olive oil and many more at Fehmi Lokantasi.

Trays of precooked – and gently heated – stews, rice, vegetables cooked in olive oil, stuffed vegetables and many more – are displayed in a buffet style in traditional lokantas. This is slowly cooked “fast food”; all you need to do is to pick up your tray and point to the Chef, Asci, which dishes you would like to try – they are ever so inviting, I usually end up having small portions of a few to share!-.

Good news is, you can recreate many of these stews and casseroles at home too. I  love this bean stew with chicken and vegetables, as it is so easy, delicious and nutritious. If you are using dried beans, you need to soak them overnight. But if you don’t have time for this, please have a go and use the precooked haricot beans instead. They still work great and you will be preparing a wholesome, delicious meal in no time.

Turkish Bean stew with spicy sausages, sucuklu kuru fasulye

This bean stew is also wonderful when cooked with Turkish spicy sausage, sucuk. You can use any spicy sausage you like or for a vegetarian option, simply omit the meat.

Turkish Bean Stew with Chicken, Onion, Peppers in Tomato Sauce – Tavuklu Kuru Fasulye

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes                           Cooking time: 35 minutes (add 30 minutes cooking time if dried beans are used)

2 cups / 340 gr Cannellini dried white beans or

14oz/1 can of pre-cooked cannellini (or haricot) beans, rinsed

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 green (pointy) or bell pepper, finely chopped

Handful of parsley, coarsely chopped

15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil

8oz / 225 gr chicken breast (or your choice of meat), cut in small chunks

14oz/ 400 gr can of chopped tomatoes

300ml/ 1 ¼ cups water

1/2 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional)

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Precooked dried beans are perfectly fine to use in the stew; and you will still be making a wholesome meal.

If you are using dried beans, soak them in plenty of water overnight. Next day, drain the water and boil the dried beans in fresh water for about 30 minutes, partially covered, until they are tender but not mushy. Drain the water and set the cooked beans aside.

If you are using precooked white beans, simply drain the juice and rinse the beans under cold water. Set them aside.

In a heavy pan, sauté the onion with the olive oil until soft. Add the meat and sauté for another minute or so. Stir in the green peppers, chopped tomatoes and the red pepper paste (if using) and mix well. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Then stir in the cooked beans and the water, mixing gently so that the beans won’t break. Season with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook in medium heat for. about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and combine well.

Delicious Kuru Fasulye; wonderful with plain rice by the side.

Serve hot with plain rice by the side. You can cook this stew ahead of time, even a day in advance. It freezes very well too. Traditionally; some locals also like to have a quarter of sliced raw onion by the side. A few pickles – tursu, as we say in Turkish- as well as Cacik dip –of yoghurt, cucumbers and dried mint– complements this bean stew well.

Cacik dip of plain yoghurt, cucumbers and dried mint complements the bean stew well.

 

Ozlem’s Turkish Table Cookery Book, available to order at this link

Dried pulses like chickpeas, beans and lentils are a big part of Turkish cuisine and we eat these staples almost daily; they are delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare. Beans, which were established in the early history of Anatolia, are wholesome and nutritious. They are a great source of source of protein, vitamin B1 and dietary fiber. I love beans and included many beans based salads, dips and mains at my Turkish cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, signed copies available to order at this link. It is 10 % off until June 16th 2019, as a little gift from us for Father’s Day; please enter the promo code: fathers-day at the check out, thank you.

Have you ever tried Esnaf Lokantasi – open buffet style traditional Turkish restaurants – in Turkey? What is your favorite slowly cooked “fast food” there? If you haven’t tried this yet, I hope you have a go; healthy, nutritious and so delicious treats will be waiting for you – and please enjoy the sites along the journey 🙂

Kiz Kulesi, Maiden Tower, Istanbul. Try traveling by ferries – vapur – in Istanbul to enjoy wonderful sites like this.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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