Turkish Sour Cherry Pilaf

Turkish Sour Cherry Pilaf

If you can imagine the sweet and tart perfume of fresh cherries, just multiply that thought by a dozen or more factors and you'll have an idea of the most perfectly cherry-like of aromas that is obtained by cooking dried sour cherries. And if that isn't reason enough to add this very unusual Turkish sour cherry pilaf to your next Middle Eastern themed summer menu, try imagining the warm tangy flavor of caraway seeds combined with the tart but refreshing sourness of cherries and the soft butteriness of perfectly cooked white basmati rice…

…it's like nothing else than a light and fluffy, slightly sweet but mostly savory dinner cake spooned into the most astonishing little morsels on your plate. If this picture sounds inadequate it's because this dish pretty much exhausts my powers of description. But don't let that stop you — this rice, adapted from Martha Rose Shulman's Mediterranean Harvest, is a perfect accompaniment to any light and garlicky Mediterranean summer meal, like the Turkish yogurt hummus I served with fresh vegetables.

Look for dried sour cherries — also known as Morello cherries — in most large grocery stores and in natural food stores. Readers in London, Ontario can obtain them at Quarter Master in Wortley Village.

Turkish Sour Cherry PilafTurkish Sour Cherry Pilaf
Recipe by
Adapted from Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes from the World's Healthiest Cuisine
Cuisine: Turkish
Published on August 11, 2008

Simple and uniquely delicious white rice pilaf cooked with tart dried cherries and seasoned with warm aromatic caraway seeds

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  • 1 1/4 cups basmati rice
  • 1 cup (3 1/2 oz or 100 g) dried sour cherries
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Optional topping:
  • 1 cup plain whole fat yogurt, drained in cheesecloth for several hours or overnight
  • Thoroughly rinse the rice under cold running water for several minutes until the water runs clear. Let stand in a strainer for half an hour or longer to air dry. Meanwhile soak the dried cherries for 10 minutes in hot water, then drain and set aside.

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cherries and sugar and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, giving the pan frequent but gentle shakes. Stir in the rice and caraway seeds to coat the grains with butter, then add the water and stir in the salt. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes undisturbed.

  • Remove from heat, remove the lid, and cover the pan with a dishtowel. Put the lid back on and let sit for 15 more minutes, undisturbed.

  • Serve warm on bowls or plates with yogurt if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings


Unknown said...

This sounds divine! I am not normally a fan of rice or fruit in dinner foods, but this recipe has inspired me! I would imagine the caraway seeds balance it all out and prevent it from being cloying. Great post!

Johanna GGG said...

I can't believe you have dried sour cherries in canada - I have struggled just to find unsweetened dried cherries (I have found them in one place in the whole state so far!) so the idea of dried sour cherries seems just a little too exotic

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