Janny de Moor Janny de Moor

Istanbul Pilaf


Serves two:


  • 2 chicken legs
  • 250 g cleaned carrots
  • 150 g peeled waxy potatoes
  • 1 peeled onion
  • pepper, salt
  • 750 ml boiling water
  • 100 g basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp butter



  • Turkish grilled red paprika
  • dill sprigs

In every country you can buy street food, but not as varied as in Istanbul. There you can collect a delicious menu while on the go. They themselves say “Food tastes better when it’s got some dirt in it”. At least according to Orhan Pamuk in A Strangeness in My Mind (2015).

Leading character Mevlut Karataş, who in the evening hawks boza (a slightly alcoholic millet drink), sells pilaf with chickpeas and chicken during the day from a beautiful barrow which can be seen all over the old town. His wife cooked the dish and if anything was left it was just reheated for the next day. How I would have liked to know about this history of the city before I stayed in one of the dashing streets.

The author does not give recipes for the combination of Pirinç pilavi nohutlu (with chickpeas) and Tavuklu pilav (with chicken) but those can be found in almost every Turkish cookbook. Without the chickpeas the dish was even served at the court of the Sultans, writes my Turkish friend Nevin Halici in one of her cookbooks: From ‘Sini’ to the tray (1999).

  • Place the chicken with the whole vegetables and salt and pepper in a large pan. Pour in the boiling water, cover; cook for three quarters of an hour.
  • Rinse the rice in a sieve under a hot tap until the water runs clear. Let it stand in hot water for five minutes. Then drain.
  • Bring 250 ml of the chicken stock to the boil in a small pan. Sprinkle in the rice. As soon as the stock is boiling again, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until all the moisture has been absorbed. Stir in chickpeas and butter.
  • Brown the chicken legs under a hot grill, place on top of the rice.
  • Drape peppers around, garnish with sprigs of dill.

Wine: dry Rosé.


Menu suggestion:

  • Starter: Carrot soup. Puree carrot, potato and onion with a hand blender in the remaining stock of the main course. Spoon warm into the plates, top with some chopped parsley and a spoonful of melted butter, in which some mild paprika powder is stirred.
  • Dessert: Turkish yogurt with a dollop of cherry jam and some liquid honey.

Deel recept