Lamb and Sultana Pilaf

Kıbrıslı üzümlü pilav


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

There are many rice dishes that include meat, usually sweet or spicy. This version, sweetened with sultanas, is favoured in Northern Cyprus and western Turkey. It is often made, or served, with peppers and eaten with yogurt. Peppers accompanying this dish should he grilled, roasted or pickled.


  • 8 oz/225 g long-grain rice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red or green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons kuyrukyağı (sheep’s tail fat), clarified or ordinary butter
  • 2 tablespoons sultanas
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon kırmızı biber
  • 1 pint/600 ml water or lamb stock
  • 1 lb/450 g minced lamb
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • extra ground cinnamon or chopped fresh parsley to sprinkle over the top


  • Wash the rice and soak if necessary. Soften the onion and pepper in the fat. Stir in the sultanas, sunflower seeds and spices. Add the drained rice and pour over the stock. Season with the salt and pepper and bring the liquid to the boil for 1-2 minutes. Simmer gently until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a dish-towel, then put the lid on tightly. Leave to steam for 15-20 minutes.
  • Fry the lamb in its own fat in a shallow pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste.
  • Layer the rice mixture with the minced lamb on a serving dish, starting with rice and ending with meat. Sprinkle the extra ground cinnamon or parsley over the top. Cover with foil and keep warm in the oven if not eating immediately. Serve hot.