I cannot think of a Turkish kitchen where a pilav is not cooked at least once a week unless they are on a tough diet. Although very common the pilaf, there are few basic tips and tricks about how to prepare a good rice pilaf. A good pilaf means it is cooked enough; there are no hard parts in each rice. It is not sticky; it doesn’t stick to your teeth or to the serving spoon. There is even a saying that “if a woman cooks a good pilaf; she can cook anything”.
The pilaf spread to the Turkish households from the palace during the Ottoman Empire. It is said that there around 80 different pilaf’s were being cooked in the palace kitchen in those days
You should buy rice that is not broken, somewhat fat. In Turkey I prefer the baldo and osmancik type of white rice. Place a measured amount of rice in a pot and cover with water at least half an hour before starting to cook. The amount of water you use at this stage is not important as you will discard it anyway. I prefer to use the pot that I will cook in, not to make additional mess. The cup or container that you use to measure the rice should have a handle because you will use it again to add hot water while cooking and it will be easier to hold.
You will need 1.75 times the amount of rice you have used. So if it was a glass you will need a 1,75 glass of warm water. If it was 1 cup, you will need 1,75 cup of water.
When the time has come to cook after at least half an hour was the rice under running water. Use a colander to drain the water, do not use your hands, as you might break the rice. Just let the water flow down, gently shake the colander. Continue until the water leaking down under the collander there is no more white water flowing. That is let the water fall until there is no more starch left.
I advise to use vermicelli/orzo to make sure that the rice doesn’t stick to each other. You can use any shape; elips, thin, round, star or alphabet shaped. Add a table spoon of olive oil and a table spoon of butter then the orzo. Cook until the butter melts and the orzo is brownish. Then add the rice that is well drained and cook until no water is left and the rice is shiny. Add a chicken bullion at this stage and make sure it is well mixed. If you have chicken stock available, of course it will be much better. Then you wont need to add the chicken bullion and the taste will be even better.
Add enough water as described above and mix only once. Bring to boil over high heat and then lower the heat to minimum possible. The water will be absorbed very soon. Check, by tasting a few. If no hard part then it is done, if not ready then add 1-2 table spoons of boiling water and cook a few more minutes.
Do not mix until you are ready to serve. This Turkish rice pilaf recipe is the most basic, plain one. My son likes it with plain yogurt, my mum with ketchup, my husband with dry chickpeas.