With 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
This is one of those dishes that taste better the second day, so plan for leftovers–or just cook it a day ahead.
- 1 cup brown basmati rice
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup raisins (or zereshk)
- 2 onions, minced
- 8 ounces eggplant, diced
- 1/2 cup fat-free vegetable broth
- 16 ounces chickpeas, cooked
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
- salt to taste
- Cook rice with water, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, raisins (or zereshk), and salt until rice is tender.
- Sauté onions in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until they begin to brown. Add the eggplant and cook for a few more minutes. Add the vegetable broth, cover, and cook until the eggplant is tender, about 8 more minutes.
- Add the cooked rice to the eggplant, along with the chickpeas and cinnamon. If dry, add a little more vegetable broth. Cook for about 5 minutes, to allow flavors to combine. Just before serving, add the tomato and chopped parsley. Add salt to taste and serve topped with pistachios.
Optional: Soak a few of the zereshk in hot water; just before serving, drain them and toss them with the pilaf. They will hold together better than the zereshk that were cooked with the rice.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s) | Cooking time: 1 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 316 Calories (kcal); 6g Total Fat; (15% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 57g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 15mg Sodium; 6g Fiber. Weight Watchers Core (omit pistachios)/ 6 Flex Points.
SusanVJuly 31, 2009 at 8:24 am
These comments were posted before the blog was moved in 2010:
YUM! I love these kinds of salads. Especially ones made with chickpeas and tomatoes.
11:07 AM, May 28, 2008
Turkish pilaf looks so nutritious and delicious!
Thanks for sharing so many wonderful vegan recipes.
12:40 PM, May 28, 2008
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
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
This pilaf sounds tasty and healthy.
8:49 PM, May 28, 2008
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
I haven’t had pistachios in too long!
11:15 AM, May 29, 2008
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
way to work those pistachios!
12:44 AM, May 30, 2008
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
Looks so pretty, sounds so good! I think I have to try this one.
11:10 PM, June 01, 2008
This looks fabulous. Plus it provides yet another way to eat chickpeas! (My favorite.) Yay!
10:10 AM, June 02, 2008
Wow! Right up my alley:) I am making notes for the future on subterfuging:)
9:48 PM, June 02, 2008
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
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
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
this was fantastic!! my parents really enjoyed 🙂 and love how it’s better made ahead!
8:27 PM, March 13, 2009
merveJanuary 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.
moonwatcherJune 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm
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!!
plasterers bristolMay 5, 2015 at 6:46 am
Now this sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing this.