Lamb and Rice Pilaf Wrapped in Phyllo Pastry



Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 10


Appears in

The Cuisine of Life: Recipes and Stories of the New Food Entrepreneurs of Turkey

The Cuisine of Life

By Center for International Private Enterprise

Published 2019

  • About

Ouzi is served during special occasions, such as weddings. For weddings, if ouzi wrapped in phyllo pastry is not served, then ouzi filling (rice, peas, and various nuts) is served with big chunks of roasted meat on top. It is a unique and tasty dish prepared for Eid and during Ramadan. Ghee and semn, types of clarified butter, may seem luxurious, but they are commonly used ingredients. This dish has another version, called Perde Pilavı (Drape Pilav), cooked in Turkey during weddings. Ouzi is always served with laban bi khiar (cucumber with yoghurt mixture) — see recipe.



  • 1 cup (180 grams) long-grain rice
  • 3 cups (700 milliliters) hot water
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) olive oil
  • cup (50 grams) blanched almonds
  • cup (50 grams) pine nuts
  • cup (50 grams) cashews (optional)
  • ¼ cup ghee or semn (clarified butter)
  • 250 grams ground lamb (20 percent fat)
  • 250 grams peas (frozen or fresh)
  • ½ teaspoon (2 grams) salt
  • ½ teaspoon (2 grams) black pepper

To assemble

  • ½ cup (120 milliliters) olive oil
  • 500 grams phyllo pastry (14 sheets, each 30-by-30 cm/12-by-12 inches)


For the filling: Soak the rice in 2 cups of hot water for about 15 minutes, then drain and rinse.

Warm the olive oil in a small skillet set over low heat, then add the almonds and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the pine nuts and cashews, if using, and continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the nuts are golden.

Heat the ghee in a large pot and add the ground lamb. Cook, stirring from time to time, for 15 minutes. Add the peas and cook, covered, for another 15 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup of hot water and the salt. Add the soaked rice to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and cook until the rice absorbs the liquid, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Add the fried nuts and black pepper to the rice, then give it a good stir. Remove from heat and let rest, covered, for a few minutes.

To assemble, brush all sides of a small soup bowl or a big ramekin with some of the oil. Place 1 phyllo sheet inside. Fill it with 3 tablespoons of the rice filling and fold over the overhanging dough to completely enclose the filling. Tear off a piece of another phyllo sheet to reinforce the top, then press gently with the palms of your hands (to help hold it all together). Invert the filled phyllo onto a baking sheet, rounded side up. Remove the bowl, then brush the outside of the phyllo with some of the olive oil. Repeat to make a total of 10 ouzi, dividing the 4 extra phyllo sheets among them. (You will likely need to use multiple baking sheets.) Bake for 40 minutes, or until the outsides are slightly golden brown.