Yufkali Pilav ( Pilaf in Pastry)


  • 10 to 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed well or soaked in water to cover for 30 minutes and drained
  • 6 tablespoons dried currants (preferably) or black raisins, soaked in tepid water to cover for 30 minutes, drained
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground allspice berries
  • 4 3/4 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds (from about 20 shelled cardamom pods)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 2 sheets yufka pastry (about 1 pound) or 3/4 pound (about 12 sheets) commercial phyllo pastry (usually 14 x 18-inch sheets)


1. In a large, heavy saucepan or casserole with a tight-fitting lid, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat, then cook the rice until well coated, 3 minutes, stirring. Add the salt and 4 cups of the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes, without stirring or looking under the lid. Remove the lid, place a paper towel over the rice, and replace the lid. Let stand off the burner for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat, then cook the pine nuts, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Remove with a slotted ladle and set aside.

3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the same skillet and cook the onion until translucent, about 4 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the carrots, fresh peas (not the frozen ones), dill, currants or raisins, allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, sugar, and the remaining 3/4 cup water, season with salt and pepper, stir, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 20 minutes. Add the frozen peas (if using) 4 minutes before the vegetables are done. Stir this vegetable mixture into the rice along with the reserved pine nuts.

4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Melt the remaining 4 to 6 tablespoons butter. Butter a round 12-inch diameter baking pan and layer a sheet of yufka pastry (a round sheet about 16-inches in diameter) on the bottom, letting it hang over the edges. Brush heavily with melted butter. If using phyllo pastry you will need to overlap up to six sheets, brushing each layer with butter. Cover the pastry sheets with the rice mixture, spreading it evenly around the pan, and cover with another sheet of yufka pastry, tucking the sides under and brushing the top with butter. If using phyllo pastry, use six sheets and butter each layer. Bake until the top is light golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Invert onto a flat baking sheet. Return to the baking pan and bake the other side until the top is light golden brown, another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the baking pan to a round serving platter and serve hot or warm.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

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