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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A Turkish Affair

The one food that left a very lasting impression of our holidays in Turkey was rice pilaf.    My son was still very young back then and every time he hit the buffet table, the first thing he would look out for would be rice pilaf, those plain classic ones with orzo.   That alone made him a happy boy for the entire trip.  His love for it was hardly surprising, firstly being Asians we eat a lot of rice and pilaf being rice cooked in seasoned broth brought it a level higher. 

So i decided on a pilaf to lend my support to the Asian Food Fest blogging event which is featuring West Asian food this month.   I chose to make the eggplant pilaf (Patlıcanlı Iç Pilav),  a dish said to have originated from Ottoman palace kitchens.  A hearty and healthy vegan dish that can be eaten on its own.  The soft and creamy eggplants paired very well with the aromatic rice (if you love eggplants that is).   The addition of some Turkish dried apricots (my own twigging since i had some on hand) gave a hint of sweetness to the dish and an added Turkish identity to the dish, if i may say :)

Although the dish can be eaten on its own though, i made a Turkish style grilled chicken dish to accompany it.  A tangy marinade made from a combination of yogurt, lemon juice and spices was used to season the chicken.

So, it was a Turkish affair for my family that night.  I will remember their reactions for sometime now, they were taken by surprise :)  But i would be honest to say i was the only who enjoyed it the most, my boys don't like aubergines/eggplants/brinjal or whatever name you call them and in whatever way you make them, unfortunately!   Actually it was quite funny when they started picking them out from the rice.  But for those who love aubergine, i am pretty sure you will like this dish, so as they say in Turkish,  Afiyet olsun!  

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest : West Asia hosted by Shannon of Just As Delish

Signing off for the year with wishes for a very Happy New Year to all my friends out there and 
some memories from my holidays in Turkey for viewing pleasure.  It's a beautiful country, enjoy!

The Blue Mosque

The Ephesus

Cotton Castle 

Fairy Chimneys' Mountains

Recipe - Eggplant Pilaf
Source: Food Thought For who adapted from Ghillie Basan 

  • 1large aubergine/eggplant (3 medium size ones)
  • 1 cup of rice. Long grain is better (2 cups)
  • 1 small onion. Sliced (2 small onions)
  • 2 cloves of garlic. Slivered (4 cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar (1 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp of whole cumin (1 tsp cumin powder)
  • 1/2 tsp of whole coriander (1 tsp coriander powder)
  • 2 small tomatoes,  diced (1 large tomato, seeds removed)
  • 2 tsp of tomato paste or puree ( 1 1/2 tbsp tomato puree)
  • 2 cups of water. Lukewarm or at least room temperature. You can use stock as well (Water, as per noted on rice cooker)
  • 6-8 tbsf olive oil. Not extra virgin 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley for garnish, optional 
  • 10 pieces of dried apricot, diced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  1. Soak aubergine/eggplant in salted water for at least an hour but no more than three. Drain, squeeze the pieces and dry with paper towels.  Heat  5 tbsf olive oil ( do not sear the oil as the smoke point for olive oil is low) and  gently add the aubergine pieces. After adding in the aubergine, reduce heat, add a tsp or so of olive oil from the top, mix and cover as they fry gently. Check often.    Drain on paper towel and set aside.
  2. Wash and soak rice (if you have the time), skipped. Soften onion and garlic in olive oil. Stir in the sugar, cumin, coriander cooking for a couple of mins. Add the tomato puree and tomatoes. Cook for 3-4 mins. Add the rice. Coat everything. 
  3. Add the water or stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer. About 20 min. Keep an eye.
  4. When rice is done, mix in the aubergine, apricot and raisins. Leave aside for around 15 minutes for aubergine and fruits to soften slightly.
  5. Garnish with parsley and cubed tomatoes. Serve warm. 
  1. My variations are in blue.
  2. The original recipe recommended toasting the spices (cumin/coriander) then ground for best results if used in whole.
  3. I used a rice cooker for step 3.  Simply transfer everything into a rice cooker after step 2 and add in water as per manufacturer's recommendation.

Recipe - Turkish Style Grilled Chicken

  • 2 Tablespoons cumin seeds (1 tbsp cumin powder)
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped 
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely minced (4 cloves garlic)
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika (1/2 tbsp chilli powder)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (1/3 lemon)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (1/2 cup yogurt)
  • 12 boneless chicken thighs, about 2 to 2-1/2 pounds, or 4 half broilers (8 drumettes) 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges for serving
  1. Toast the cumin seeds in a small saute pan over medium heat until the seeds are fragrant and start to pop in the pan. Remove from the heat and grind in a spice grinder. 
  2. Place the cumin, onion, garlic, paprika, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender and pulse to liquify. Add the yogurt and pulse just until blended. 
  3. Put the chicken thighs in a shallow non-aluminum baking dish or bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss well to coat. Let stand at room temperature at least 2 hours or cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard marinade). 
  5. Place the chicken on a broiler rack and broil until browned on top, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F(205°C) and bake until the chicken is juicy and just cooked through, about 15 minutes longer. (Thigh meat will appear dark pink, even when cooked through.) 
  6. Serve immediately.
  1. My variations in blue.
  2. Skipped step 1 since i substituted with cumin powder.
  3. The chicken pieces didn't turn out pinkish in color, probably because i replaced paprika with chili powder and the amount added was not much to suit my son's acceptance level.


Both rice and chicken look mouthwatering! Love the appetizing golden yellow colour.
I wish you a blessed and joyful New Year!

Wow...what a delicious meal to end the year 2013!! I have never cook anything like this rice pilaf before but this is something I love to cook everything in one meal. And Im taking this opportunity to wish you and your family have a wonderful 2014 year ahead....lots of good food on the table and good health too.

looks like turkey has lots of beautiful landscapes! wishing you a wonderful year 2014!

Hi, Happy New Year to you and family.
The rice and chicken look absolutely delicious, I don't mind to have 2nd or 3rd helping. :))

Have a nice day.

What delicious looking dish, I love the beautiful color and am not surprised your son love it! Beautiful photos of your trip! Happy New Year:D

this look yummy!!!! I love it!!!!

I would really love this dish ! Yeah , we Asians love our rice :D The seasoning of this dish sounds really good and the dish itself looks very appetizing ! No wonder your son love rice pilaf , that is , sans eggplant lol

Love your Turkey vacation photos , the architectures look amazing !

Wishing you and your family a Happy , Healthy and a Bountiful 2014 !!!

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