Turkish Rice Pilaf with orzo (Sehriyeli Pirinc Pilavi in Turkish) has been a staple food and has always enjoyed a special status in Turkey for centuries. This basic yet comforting rice dish is an important part of Turkish cuisine that plays a significant role in everyday cooking. You can enjoy it in every possible kind of eatery, from the local cafeteria to a posh Istanbul restaurant.
Turkish Rice absorbs flavours well which makes it a great accompaniment for many meals such as Karniyarik (Stuffed Aubergine with Mince), Islim Kebabi (Aubergine Meatball Wraps) or Hunkar Begendi (Sultan's Delight). This buttery Turkish rice dish is tasty enough to eat on its own or just with a bowl of yoghurt. Alternatively, you can mix in vegetables, chickpeas, or even meat and turn it into a yummy meal.
Why This Recipe Works?
- It is a very simple recipe with four ingredients only.
- Can be easily made vegan friendly when replacing the butter with olive oil.
- It is versatile, you can add vegetables or meat and turn it into a substantial meal.
- Always turns out flaky and fluffy with precise measurements of water to rice ratio.
- A great side to accompany many Turkish and Mediterranean dishes.
Ingredients and Substitutes
- Rice - Using the right type of rice for a good pilaf is crucial- Baldo - chubby, short-grain rice grown in Turkey is the best option. This type of rice is extremely starchy and can absorb lots of moisture, which makes it very creamy and tender but also keeps its shape well when cooked. Alternatively, you can use Italian arborio rice.
- Vermicelli or Orzo - Short type of pasta that is used for rice dishes or soups in Turkish cuisine. You can omit and add the same amount of extra bulgur wheat. You can buy online or from Amazon as well as from large supermarkets/Turkish shops.
- Butter - Butter is the secret to a delicious rice pilaf. Fry the orzo with butter until golden brown for a nutty flavour. Use olive oil for the vegan/dairy-free options.
- Stock - It adds great flavour to the rice. Use Basic Homemade Vegetable Stock for vegan/vegetarian options. Homemade Beef Stock or Chicken Stock (Bone Broth) works perfectly with pilaf.
- Lemon Juice & Sugar - Two unusual ingredients, but they enhance the flavour of the pilaf and give a nice white colour. Don't go crazy with the amount of lemon juice, all you need is 2 to 3 drops maximum!
- Salt & Pepper - Use the amount stated in the recipe as a guide and adjust the amount to your taste.
Turkish Rice Pilaf is easy to make and you can experiment with other pilaf alternatives once you’ve mastered the basics. There are a few easy steps that you need to follow to achieve the best results:
Soak the rice in salted warm water for 20 minutes. Place it in a sieve and wash it under running cold water until the water from the rice runs clear. This is an essential step for a fluffy-flaky texture. Heat a pan over medium heat and melt the butter. Add orzo and sauté until golden brown. Add the salt and rice to the pan when the orzo is browned and then fry until the rice is totally dried. Salt will help the rice to dry quicker.
Add the liquid to the rice along with the pepper, lemon juice, and sugar. Increase the amount of the liquid to 4 cups (800 ml) if you didn't soak the rice. Mix them all gently and let it simmer on low heat with the lid off for 15 to 20 minutes, until the rice absorbed the liquid. When cooked, let it rest for 10 minutes without opening the lid. Gently fluff with a fork before serving.
For more delicious rice recipes why not try:
The cooking technique is different between rice and rice pilaf. Rice is usually made by boiling or steaming the rice grains with no flavourings added. Rice pilaf is made by sautéing the rice grains with aromatics such as onions, garlic or vegetables and then cooking in stock or water.
Orzo is rice-shaped pasta and it is a staple in Turkish cuisine. It is a great ingredient to add to pilav dishes as well as adding to soups. You can also make a salad with orzo or cook it like a pilaf to serve it as a side dish.
Top Tip From the Chef
- Adjust the amount of the stock - The amount of stock you add to the rice depends on the type of rice you are using. This recipe works great with baldo rice but if you use a different type of rice, apply the amount of stock stated on the packaging. When you add the stock to the rice, stir just enough to combine and don't open the lid while cooking.
- Be patient before serving the rice! - When the rice is cooked, let it rest for 10 minutes with the lid on. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or cloth to keep it warm. Gently fluff the rice with a fork before serving.
I hope you enjoy the process of making this fluffy Turkish Rice Pilaf as much as you enjoy eating it! 🙂
Bon appétit! / Afiyet Olsun!
Turkish Rice (Sehriyeli Pilav)
- 2½ tablespoon butter (50 grams)
- 50 g orzo
- 2 cups rice (baldo or tosya) (or 400 grams)
- 3 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, beef stock or water (or 600 ml)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2-3 drops lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- Soak the rice in warm salted water for 20 minutes (optional).
- Wash the rice in a sieve under running cold water until the water from the rice runs clear, let it drain.
- Heat a pan over medium heat and melt the butter.
- Add orzo and saute until golden brown, then add the rice with the salt, saute for a few minutes until the rice is dry.
- Add the liquid to the rice along with the pepper, lemon juice, and sugar. Increase the amount of the liquid to 4 cups (800 ml) if not soaking the rice.
- Mix them all gently and let it simmer on low heat with the lid off for 15 to 20 minutes, until the rice absorbed the liquid.
- When cooked, let it rest for 10 minutes without opening the lid.
- Fluff gently with a fork before serving.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
This post use affiliate links. This means that if you click on them and then buy something, we get a small amount of commission to keep the site running, but it doesn’t cost you anything more.
Did you make this recipe?