Anchovy Pilaf

Hamsili pilav

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

The one pilaf you can guarantee to find in the Black Sea region is hamsili pilav. Long famous for its anchovies, the Black Sea is also well known for this rice dish made with them. It is often served on its own with lemon wedges to squeeze over it, or with other fish dishes. Sprats or small sardines could be used in place of fresh anchovies. Similar pilafs include prawns, mussels, scallops and octopus these are sautéed in butter before being added to the rice, buryani style.


  • 1 lb/450 g fresh anchovies, cleaned and boned
  • 12 oz/350 g long-grain rice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons clarified or ordinary butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon currants
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pints/900 ml water
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish


  • Preheat oven to 375F/Mark 5/190C
  • Sprinkle the anchovies with salt and put aside.
  • Wash the rice and soak if necessary. Drain well.
  • Soften the onion in 1 tablespoon of the butter. Stir in the nuts, currants, sugar and spices. Stir in the rice and pour over the water. Season with salt and pepper and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Grease a casserole dish generously with butter. Rinse the anchovies and line the dish with half of them. Tip the rice mixture on top, level it out, and arrange the remaining anchovies on top. Melt the other tablespoon of butter and pour it over them, cover the dish with foil, and place in the oven for 20 minutes until the fish are cooked.
  • Sprinkle with sumak and serve hot with wedges of lemon.