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Hassaten pilaf

Hassaten pilaf
Ringo H.W. Chiu / For the Times

Two years ago I visited Nevin Halici, one of the most important Turkish food writers, at her home in Konya, Turkey, which is also the town where the famous 13th century Sufi poet Rumi spent most of his adult life. ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 50 minutes | Serves 5 or more

Meat stock

  • 1/2 pound lamb scraps or 1 pound lamb bones
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1/4 carrot
  • 1 peppercorn
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Step 1Put 2 1/2 cups water, the lamb, onion, carrot, peppercorn and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook, covered, 1 hour. Strain. Makes 2 1/4 cups.


  • 1 1/2 cups long grain rice
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless lamb, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 2 cups julienned carrots
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzos
  • 1 tablespoon currants, soaked in water 30 minutes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled grilled chestnuts, in season (optional)
  • 2 1/4 cups meat stock

Step 1Soak the rice in 2 cups hand-hot water salted with 1 tablespoon salt until the water is cool. Drain.

Step 2Wash the meat, pat dry. Sprinkle with one-half teaspoon salt. Fry it in a pan without grease until the juices it exudes dry up. Set aside.

Step 3In a separate saucepan, melt the butter, add the onions and pine nuts and fry until the onions are golden brown. Add the carrots and fry until they soften. Add the garbanzos, currants, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and one-fourth teaspoon salt. Remove from the heat. Stir in the optional chestnuts and reserved meat.

Step 4Wash the rice in several changes of water until the water runs clear. Ladle a layer of the carrot-meat mixture into the bottom of a saucepan. Cover it with a layer of rice, and repeat with layers until the ingredients are used up; the last layer should be meat and carrots. Place a plate or flat lid slightly smaller than the diameter of the pot on top of the meat to keep the layers separate as they cook.

Step 5Bring the meat stock to a boil and trickle it over the plate or lid. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, keeping the plate or flat lid in place, and cook, checking occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed and small craters appear in the rice, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the plate or flat lid.

Step 6Cover the pot lid with a clean dishtowel and replace firmly on the pot. Lower the heat to lowest setting and continue to cook for 15 minutes.

Step 7To serve, place a serving dish upside down over the top of the pot. Holding the pot and dish firmly together, turn the whole thing over so that the pilaf comes out on the plate.

Note: From "Sufi Cuisine" by Nevin Halici.


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