Flavours From The Sultan's Table

Mengen Pilaf has a colourful flavour palate and the addition of the chili flakes makes it even more irresistible. One-pot cooking of a combination of rice, meat and vegetables is a famous method of¬†preparing a meal in the Middle Eastern kitchens and was also popular in Ottoman kitchens. This recipe offers you a beautiful taster of the food and flavours that would have been served on the sultans’ tables.

Make and serve this pilaf alongside a salad or yogurt and savour the flavours and taste the flavours of old, old times.


  • 250 g medium grain rice
  • 150 g butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 500 g lamb cubes
  • 150 g fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 300 g tomatoes, skinned and very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh or dried oregano
  • 50 g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Salt & Black pepper to taste
  • Red Chili flakes (optional)

Wash the rice with cold water a few times to get rid of some of its starch and drain.

In a large pan, using half the amount of butter, saute the onions for a minute, add the meat cubes and saute them together until slightly browned. Add the mushrooms and tomato, and stir to mix and coat. Cook gently for a few minutes to absorb all flavours then add the water. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam that appears on top. Once boiled reduce the heat, cover and cook on medium-low heat for 45 minutes. Season and add the sugar and rice, then bring back to a boil. Adjust liquid level if necessary, cover and leave to cook on low heat for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.

Once done, melt the remaining butter and pour it over the cooked rice. Cover with the lid and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Then sprinkle the dill (leaving some for garnish), oregano, walnuts and the chili flakes if using. Using a large fork, fluff the rice to incorporate the added ingredients.

Pour onto the serving plate, garnish with the remaining dill and serve immediately.

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