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In Ottoman times, rice (pirinç), initially imported from China, was a treat for the aristocrats. If you visited Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace 500 years ago, you’d be offered three beautiful dishes—dane-i-sarı (yellow rice, made with saffron), dane-i-yeşil (green rice, made with spinach or fresh herbs), and dane-i-kızıl (red rice made with pomegranate or barberries). Nowadays, every class eats it, but more in Turkey’s west than east.

There is much debate about how to get the best out of rice, but here’s my preferred way to make an interesting rice pilav, learned from my mother-in-law: