Tavuklu Pilav (Tender Chicken Rice Pilaf)

Fluffy and flavorful rice with tender chickpeas and large pieces of flavorful chicken piled on top. It’s so good and such a simple dish.

It it all starts with a whole chicken and a big stock pot. This is a beautiful sight to see. It reminds me of watching my mom do this as a kid. The end product was always delicious. So I’m convinced, that if you start with a whole chicken in a big pot of water, you’re off to a good start. The chicken is boiled in the salted water until it is done and then its slathered with a saffron yogurt and roasted until tender. The chicken alone is worth trying but then when you have the fluffy rice and chickpeas, it’s divine!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 whole chicken (2 kilos)
  • 1.5 c frozen chickpeas
  • 4.5 c white rice
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 small red onions (peeled)
  • 2 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt — e.g. Greek yogurt)
  • 0.5 TBSP saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)


Place the whole chicken in a large stock pot with 2 peeled red onions. Season with salt, cover with water and boil for 1 to 1.5 hours. Note: Skim the fat off the top occasionally during the cooking process.

Soak the rice in a large bowl for 10-15 minutes. Then drain, rinse and drain the rice again. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, 1 TBSP of sunflower oil and saffron. Set aside.


When the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the pot and place on a baking sheet. Drain the broth through a sieve and then put the broth back in a pot.

Rub the yogurt mixture over the chicken (front and back) then place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

While the chicken is in the oven, prepare the rice.

In a large stock pot, add 1 TBSP of olive oil and 1 TBSP of sunflower oil. Add the rice and stir for 2-3 minutes until the rice is toasted. Add the chickpeas and then pour over the chicken broth (approximately 10-12 cups or enough to cover the rice). Season with salt and pepper, stir and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and fluffy.

Remove the chicken out of the oven and using two forks, shred the chicken off the bones into large pieces.

To serve, place the rice on a large serving dish. Place the large pieces of shredded chicken on top of the rice. Enjoy!



Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website



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