Turkish Pilaf with Pistachios and Chickpeas

by on May 28, 2008
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Turkish Pilaf with Pistachios and ChickpeasWith the emerald green of the pistachios, the red of the tomatoes (which would resemble rubies if they were riper, summer tomatoes), and the purple eggplant, which if I squint my eyes up just right I can imagine are amethysts, I was tempted to call this cinnamon-infused rice “Jewel Tone Pilaf.”

The recipe is adapted from one in an article about Istanbul in an old copy of Gourmet, circa 2000. The same issue had a story about Iranian pistachios, which I was eager to try, but I was unable to find any shelled, unsalted pistachios in the Middle Eastern grocery store. When I finally found them at the Indian grocery, they weren’t, I’m sure, from Iran, but I was happy to get them whatever their origin. They add a wonderful touch to this simple recipe, which I’ve adapted almost beyond recognition. I used brown basmati rice instead of white and changed the cooking method to accommodate the longer cooking time; I substituted parsley for dill and added chickpeas; and instead of raisins, I used the tiny dried barberries known as zereshk in Iran, which impart a tarter flavor than raisins. They’re not easy to find, but if you’re interested, look for them in Middle Eastern markets. If you can’t find them, stick with raisins, which combine with the cinnamon to give this pilaf a very sweet taste.

Turkish Pilaf with Pistachios and Chickpeas

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SusanV July 31, 2009 at 8:24 am

These comments were posted before the blog was moved in 2010:

rachel said…

YUM! I love these kinds of salads. Especially ones made with chickpeas and tomatoes.

11:07 AM, May 28, 2008
Kumudha said…

Turkish pilaf looks so nutritious and delicious!

Thanks for sharing so many wonderful vegan recipes.

12:40 PM, May 28, 2008
Allison said…

I’d really like to try this, but my husband is allergic to egg plant. Do you think zucchini would work instead? Just looking a the picture is making me so hungry!

5:56 PM, May 28, 2008
Lane said…

My wife’s been making Chana Masala, an Indian dish which is incredible. This dish sounds similar, and it has pistachios! Yum!

Lane of VeganBits.com

7:26 PM, May 28, 2008
Kevin said…

This pilaf sounds tasty and healthy.

8:49 PM, May 28, 2008
bazu said…

That looks so gorgeous! I don’t use pistachios nearly often enough in cooking, even though both of us love them.

10:52 AM, May 29, 2008
ChocolateCoveredVegan said…

I haven’t had pistachios in too long!

11:15 AM, May 29, 2008
selina said…

looks wonderful. and aside from eggplant it sounds delicious too! 🙂 i might just have to make it sans eggplant.

6:08 PM, May 29, 2008
vagrantvegan said…

way to work those pistachios!

12:44 AM, May 30, 2008
Jody said…

Okay. This recipe is great. Love it!

12:21 PM, May 30, 2008
Deb Bixler said…

I am always on the look out for fun healthy recipes with legumes. This looks really good! Thanks, I love Turkish foods.

10:20 PM, May 30, 2008
Lisa said…

Looks so pretty, sounds so good! I think I have to try this one.

11:10 PM, June 01, 2008
Marni said…

This looks fabulous. Plus it provides yet another way to eat chickpeas! (My favorite.) Yay!

10:10 AM, June 02, 2008
Sunshinemom said…

Wow! Right up my alley:) I am making notes for the future on subterfuging:)

9:48 PM, June 02, 2008
Jackie said…

This sounds really good, I’m anxious to make it. By the way, if you ever have trouble finding dried barberries you can use the berries from the barberry shrub that is probably growing nearby if not in your own yard. They’re one of the more common landscape plants. I never knew this until an Iranian classmate of mine picked some and ate them while we were walking past one of the thorny shrubs.

3:23 PM, June 03, 2008
Carla said…

I tried to make this the other night but ended up with a new creation. I wanted to use barley couscous instead of rice, but wouldn’t you know this time the couscous turned into mush! I let the whole thing cool and panfried it in patties in a bit of coconut oil. It was really yummy that way! Just another variation…I substituted courgettes for the eggplant, too!

1:08 AM, June 04, 2008
Suzanne said…

This looks really good, but I have one question. The raisins do sound a bit sweet for me, If I can’t find zereshk, do you think that dried cranberries will work? They’re tart, but since I haven’t made this dish, I can’t decide it the cranberries will help or hurt?

Thanks for all the great recipes!

10:47 AM, June 04, 2008

Susan’s note: I think dried cranberries would be very interesting!
Suzanne MacNeil said…

Lovely! I’ve neer cooked with eggplant before (longtime vegan, I know, the shame!) but I immediately thought of this recipe after buying a mini eggplant with tentatively good expectations. I used currants in place of raisins, and it was wonderful! I didn’t really get why the directions say to “simmer” since I usually associate that with soup rather than pilaf, but in any case it was easy to make. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s leftovers!

12:54 PM, September 04, 2008
Lucy Reynell said…

i really liked this recipe, but towards the end realised that i had to add a lot more cinnamon, and some other herbs and spices, to give it a bit more flavour.

12:01 PM, December 28, 2008
ttfn300 said…

this was fantastic!! my parents really enjoyed 🙂 and love how it’s better made ahead!

8:27 PM, March 13, 2009


2 merve January 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I am from Turkey however, I have never seen the pilav like this. I have never eaten maybe you confuse with some other Middle East countries. on the other hand it seems delicious. thanks.


3 moonwatcher June 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

HI Susan,

This sounds and looks great–it is definitely jewel-toned–so pretty! I have never heard of the zereshk–sounds interesting. I always try to ask the kids to bring unsalted pistachios from the City of Roses when they come visit. If they do, I’ll definitely try this!!




4 plasterers bristol May 5, 2015 at 6:46 am

Now this sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing this.



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