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Recipe: Turkish (Plain) Rice – Sade Pilav

In Türkiye, the reputation of a housewife and the career of a chef can stand or fall on their pilav. The essential quality is fluffiness: each grain of rice should stand alone, proud and independent, moist and glistening without being wet or oily.

Rice rises to its full potential in a good pilav, coaxed lovingly by an expert hand into a juicy cloud suspended between firmness and flounce.

Skip the plain white rice and master the art of making this Turkish version. It will soon become your new favourite!


2 cups long-grain rice

1/4 cup şehriye (vermicelli)

4 tablespoons butter or 1/2 cup olive oil

Stock or water to cover


Heat the butter or olive oil in a saucepan, add the şehriye and stir until it goes brown.

Add the rice and mix until each grain is coated in butter or oil.

Cover the rice with water or stock, put a lid on the saucepan and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed (little steam holes in the rice are a sign that you’re there).

Turn off the heat and wrap the whole saucepan in a cloth for 15 minutes.

The steaming pilav that emerges should comprise robust, individual grains happy to separate from the pack.

Note: Some authorities (ie grandmothers) say rice must be soaked in water (some say cold, some say hot) before cooking; others assert that giving it a good rinse is quite sufficient.

Source: World Food Turkey

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Lyn Ward

Lyn Ward

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