Veiled Rice

Perdelı Pılav


Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in


By David Dale and Somer Sivrioglu

Published 2015

  • About

This is a kind of chicken and rice pie, which originated in Siirt, a city in southeastern Turkey. In the classical version they simply mixed the chicken into the spiced rice and wrapped pastry around it, but I find that quite dry.

It makes a spectacular presentation if you upend the pie and unveil layers of different ingredients inside—caramelised onions on top, which keep the other layers moist, then a layer of shredded chicken, and under that the spiced rice.



  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) olive oil
  • 10 brown onions
  • 5 saffron threads
  • 440 g (15½ oz/2 cups) medium-grain rice
  • tablespoons butter
  • 100 g ( oz) flaked almonds
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


    First, get the onion confit started for the filling. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over low heat. Finely slice the onions, add to the pan and fry, covered, for 10 minutes. Move the lid so it’s partly open and simmer 1½ hours, stirring occasionally. The confit onions should reduce to half the size of the uncooked onions Next, make the chicken stock. Halve the onions and carrots, and place in a large saucepan with the chicken. Cover with salted water and boil, partly covered, for 30 minutes over medium–low heat. Turn off the heat and transfer the chicken to a board. Leave to cool slightly. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, strip off the skin and all the meat. Shred the meat into thin strands and set aside. Put 375 ml (13 fl oz/ cups) of the warm chicken stock in a bowl, add the saffron and set aside to soak. Put the chicken skin and bones back in the pan and return to the heat. Simmer, without the lid, so the stock reduces.

    Now, make the ‘veil’. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat (or microwave for 30 seconds). Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Whisk the butter into the egg, then whisk in the baking powder and salt. Fold the egg mixture into the flour and knead for 5 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and roll the dough into a ball. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

    Now cook the rice. Rinse the rice under cold running water. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flaked almonds, and fry for 2 minutes. Add the rice and toss it in the butter for 1 minute, to coat. Remove the saffron threads from the bowl of stock and discard. Mix the cinnamon, allspice and pepper into the saffron liquid. Add the liquid to the rice and stir. Add 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) of the simmering chicken stock. Bring the rice to a boil.

    Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to rest, covered, for 15 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).

    Place the dough on a floured work surface. Roll into a round sheet about 60 cm (24 in) wide. Paint half the vegetable oil inside a 25 cm (10 in) cake tin to grease well. Place the half almonds around the bottom of the cake tin in any pattern you like. Line the tin with the pastry sheet so the sides of the sheet come up and overlap the rim of the tin. There should be about 12 cm ( in) of pastry hanging over the edge (this will be folded over the rice).

    Remove the onion confit from the heat. Scoop out the onions with a slotted spoon and spread them over the pastry in the tin. Add a layer of chicken meat over the onion, then spoon in the rice so it fills to about 1 cm (½ in) below the rim. Fold the pastry over the rice. If it doesn’t completely cover the rice, squeeze the pastry out with your fingers so it stretches across. Brush on the remaining vegetable oil. Cook the ‘pie’ in the oven for 20 minutes until golden. Lift the cake tin out of the oven and turn the pie out onto a baking tray. Put the baking tray in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes.

    Serve the whole pie at the table, slicing it into eight wedges (two per diner).

    Part of