If you take a stroll through the working neighborhoods of Turkey’s largest cities like Istanbul and Ankara, you’ll see street sellers serving steaming hot rice pilaf with chicken and chickpeas. Their two-wheeled vending carts are unmistakable, especially at lunchtime.
Rice pilaf with chicken and chickpeas, or ‘nohutlu pilavı’ (no-HOOT’-loo PEE’-lahv-uh), is popular on the streets because it’s very inexpensive. It also packs a lot of energy and nutrients if you’re working hard all day.
You can usually get a bowl of fresh pilaf and an ice-cold cup of the Turkish yogurt drink called ‘ayran’ (ai-RAHN’) for a few Turkish Lira or less.
Although it seems like a simple meal, it’s actually very delicious. Many families make it at home, especially for large gatherings. And you don’t need to make much else to go along with it. A fresh salad will do.
Rice and dried legumes like chickpeas are staples in Turkish cuisine and are some of the most popular Turkish ingredients. Go ahead and try Turkish rice pilaf with chicken and chickpeas for a simple, delicious meal all in one pot.
- Place the ½ chicken in a pot and fill it with enough water to cover the chicken by one inch. Peel the carrot and the onion and place them in the pot. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pot. Let the chicken simmer gently until the meat is falling off the bones, about 30 minutes. Set it aside to cool.
- When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the onion and carrot. Remove the chicken from the broth and separate all the meat from the bones, Discard the bones, skin, and gristle. Strain the broth through a fine wire strainer and set it aside.
- Drain and rinse the chick peas and set them aside. In a large, shallow pan, melt the butter together with the oil. Add the rice and work the oils through all the grains with a wooden spoon. On low heat, continue to ‘fry’ the dry rice for a few minutes.
- Add the chick peas, chicken broth, water and spices. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover. Let the rice simmer very gently on low heat until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Turn off the heat. Open the top of the pan and arrange the chicken pieces over the top of the cooked rice. Do this quickly as you don’t want to lose too much steam. Replace the cover and let the rice continue to steam for about 10 minutes more.
- When you are ready to serve it, remove the lid. Using a large bowl as a mold, arrange the chicken pieces in the bottom and up the sides of the bowl. Using the wooden spoon, fill the bowl with the hot rice and gently pack it down to make it firm. When the bowl is full, turn it upside down on your serving plate. You can garnish the top with a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs, if you wish.
- Serve the rice piping hot with a glass of ice cold Turkish yogurt drink, called ‘ayran’ (ai-RAHN’).