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.
For the filling: Soak the rice in
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
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.)
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