Before kids and the ‘burbs and a minivan, my husband and I did some great traveling. And one December on the way to Israel, we stopped in Istanbul for a few days. We ate familiar dishes like baklava and the Turkish version of bourekas (borek) and then we also ate some less familiar items like kokoreç (you don’t really want to know what’s in this), simit (almost a Turkish bagel-pretzel, covered in sesame seeds) and sahlab (a creamy, spiced hot drink). Many of these items were sold right on the street.
Perhaps the greatest surprise of Turkish street food was a well-known and beloved dish called Noholt Pilav, or chickpeas and rice, which was served simply with some shredded chicken and chopped tomatoes and cucumber. It cost us less than $2, but was filling and delicious. It quickly became one of our favorite go-to weeknight dinners when we returned from the trip.
One of the great things about a dish like this is 1) it’s quick and easy to throw together with ingredients you likely already have and 2) you can add/subtract flavors and ingredients based on what you have, or your family’s flavor preferences.
I give instructions below on how to make this with chicken breasts, but you can also you use thighs or (even better) buy a rotisserie chicken and just chop that sucker up. It’s an easy, delicious, worldy weeknight dinner your family will (hopefully) love as much as we do.
2 bone-in chicken breasts with skin left on OR you can use about 3 cups leftover cubed or shredded chicken
Spice mix of your choice (I like using ras en hanout)
2 cups cooked white rice
½ English cucumber, diced
1 plum tomato, diced
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub chicken breasts with spice mix, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook in oven for 45-50 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly. Chop or shred chicken to your liking.
Add a few heaping spoonfuls of rice to each bowl. Top with chicken, cucumbers, tomato and chickpeas. Add a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt if desired.