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In Turkey, there is a saying; if she cooks good pilaf, then she can cook any dish. As you see from this quote, pilaf is an important dish in Turkish cuisine. Pilaf is our number one side dish without a doubt. You can even see pilaf cars on the streets of Istanbul. It is a very common side dish that all Turkish restaurants serve beside the main course. If you are going to eat Kebab, pilaf is right beside it. If you want to eat the juicy dish, pilaf is right beside it there too.

It may seem an easy side dish to cook, however, it is not. You need to know what you are doing if you are going to cook Pilaf as a side dish. You have to be precise about the ingredient ratios you use and the timing to remove the pilaf from the stove.

The Story of Pilaf

Pilaf inherited Turkish cuisine from Ottoman cuisine. Ottoman Sultans’ number one side dish was Pilaf. If you consider that era, it wasn’t easy to supply anything you need at any time you want. Ottoman Sultans predict the future and give orders to farm as many diverse vegetable types in Ottoman borders. Rice was one of them. The first capital city of the Ottoman Empire was Bursa city then after Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquers Istanbul; Istanbul became the capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Fatih Sultan Mehmet orders his men to produce rice on Ottoman borders. With his orders; they start to produce rice in Edirne city, Balıkesir city, and Manisa city. Edirne city is very close to Istanbul and rice was coming to the palace from Edirne city. Below; I share a rare drawing of the Sultan and his men eating Pilaf together. I request this drawing photo from an Ottoman historian and thank him that he shared it with me.


Course Side Dish
Cuisine Turkish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 410 kcal


  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups long grain white rice
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 1 tbsp risoni / orzo
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Rinse the rice under cold water to remove rice surface starch. Pour the rice in a bowl and cover it with warm water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and stir the rice with clean hands. Let the rice rest about 5 minutes in the warm water bowl.

  2. Drain the rice with draining colander, which has extra-small holes so only the water  drains not the rices. Wash with cold water again and drain well.

  3. Melt the butter in a sauce pan until it starts to sizzle and add the risoni at medium-high heat. Stir until risoni changes its color from light to a bit dark color. Then add rice and stir 5 minutes.

  4. Pour the 3 cups water into the pan and add the salt. Stir them and close the saucepan lid and turn the heat to lowest level.

  5. Cook 12 minutes at lowest level heat. After it cooked, open the saucepan lid and put paper towel to the lid and close the lid again and let the pilaf rest for 5 minutes. After it rest, it will ready to serve.

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