Palace Pilav

These are the last two cookbooks I’ve purchased. I see a theme or two. Firstly, spices – seasonings and flavorings including herbs and flowers and you name it. Secondly – dishes from the Mediterranean.

In my early years of cooking, I thought that Mediterranean cuisines covered mostly the coastal areas of France and Italy, plus a bit of Spain and Greece. I wasn’t wrong, but how fun and exciting has my journey been to discover the actual expanse of these sea- and sun-kissed countries’ cuisines.

I decided to google what really is Mediterranean cuisine, not to be confused with the Mediterranean diet. From Wikipedia: “The idea of a Mediterranean cuisine originates with the cookery writer Elizabeth David’s book, A Book of Mediterranean Food (1950) and was amplified by other writers working in English.”

Here is a fabulous map that shows the entire Mediterranean “basin” that includes far more countries than the four I mentioned.

The groupings of cuisines are shown on this map.

Maghrebi cuisines include Algeria, Libyan, Morocco’s and Tunisian cuisines. Levantine includes the Mediterranean coast east of Egypt. Ottoman includes Turkey, parts of the Balkans, Cyprus, and Greece. The Balkans include cuisines from Albania, Armenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia. Spanish, French and Italy speak for themselves. Portuguese is considered only slightly Mediterranean since it borders the Atlantic. And I love them all!

In any case, I’m having so much fun with my new cookbook Spice, by Chef Ana Sortun, published in 2006. Chef Sortun is best known as the chef-owner of Oleana, in Boston. So far I’ve made quite a few recipes and loved them all.

This is the author’s luxurious version of a pilav, considered “a special occasion or fancy pilav because it is packed with nuts and berries and is enriched by the hazelnut aroma of brown butter. The addition of crushed toasted pasta is a typical addition to easter Mediterranean pilavs.”

Palace Pilav
Bulgur with Pine Nuts, Almonds, Pistachios, and Mulberries

1 1/2 cups coarse bulgur
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 coils or nests of De Cecco brand angel hair pasta, crushed in 1/4” pieces, about 1/4 cup
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons brown butter
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
3 tablespoons lightly toasted roughly chopped almonds
2 tablespoons lightly toasted roughly chopped pistachios
1/4 cup dried mulberries
6 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

Soak the bulgur in warm water for 15 minutes and drain.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over high heat and add the pasta after a minute. Stir the pasta to coat it with oil, and immediately reduce the heat to medium. Continue to stir the pasta for 3 to 4 minutes, until it turns a caramel-brown color. This will happen very quickly.

Stir in the onion and continue to cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onion has softened. Stir the bulgur into the onion and pasta, adding 2 tablespoons of the brown butter.

Add the chicken broth and season lightly with about a teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium and cook vigorously for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, place a clean, dry dish towel over it, and press the lid down tightly on top. Leave the pilaf to steam for 20 minutes. The cloth will absorb all of the moisture, which will make bulgur fluffier and lighter.

Fluff the pilaf with a fork, add the nuts and mulberries, and reseason with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot with a drizzle more of brown butter on each serving. You can add a dollop of yogurt on the side or you can make a well in the center of each serving and spoon some yogurt in the middle.

This pilav/pilaf is wonderful. The browned butter and toasted pasta add so much flavor, as do the nuts. The yogurt caught me by surprise, until I remembered that every food in Turkey, just about, has yogurt in it!

By Published On: December 1st, 202329 Comments on Palace Pilav

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen December 1, 2023 at 8:11 AM - Reply

    Well, I guess I certainly have to expand my own definition of Mediterranean cuisine Mimi! My lens was much too small I’m afraid.

    • Chef Mimi December 1, 2023 at 10:58 AM - Reply

      I know what you mean!!! And they’re all such wonderful cuisines.

      • Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen December 1, 2023 at 11:00 AM

        Thank you Mimi. You always find the best cookbooks!

      • Chef Mimi December 2, 2023 at 8:21 AM

        Thanks. I love cookbooks!

  2. Kay Lamerton December 1, 2023 at 8:20 AM - Reply

    I enjoy your blog, recipes, stories, humor so much!
    Thank you.

    • Chef Mimi December 3, 2023 at 9:09 AM - Reply

      Thank you Kay!!! Really appreciate your comment.

  3. Chef Mimi December 1, 2023 at 11:00 AM - Reply

    I agree with you! And I have much more to taste!

  4. Tandy | Lavender and Lime December 1, 2023 at 10:53 PM - Reply

    We are having a Mediterranean Christmas lunch which is so open to possibilities. Especially when you look at the vast map the cuisine covers.

    • Chef Mimi December 2, 2023 at 8:21 AM - Reply

      Exactly! Do you need my address?

  5. Sherry Mackay December 2, 2023 at 2:00 AM - Reply

    this dish sounds just amazing mimi. I love spices and hearty flavours. I have just made a dish of chilli tonight and added a fair whack of baharat! so enticing…

    • Chef Mimi December 2, 2023 at 8:22 AM - Reply

      Baharat is so wonderful.

  6. paulineandneil3147 December 2, 2023 at 3:06 AM - Reply

    The browned butter and toasted pasta are such an interesting addition for pilaf, I often have trouble cooking the coarse bulgur, so I choose the finer type. I’ll use your method next time. Love all of the Mediterranean flavours Mimi, your books look fascinating.

    • Chef Mimi December 2, 2023 at 9:00 AM - Reply

      Thank you Pauline! I loved the toasted pasta.

  7. Chef Mimi December 2, 2023 at 9:01 AM - Reply

    Ummmm. Cause I really don’t bake! Well, I do have two favorite cookie recipes on my blog. I’ll check it out!

  8. nancyc December 3, 2023 at 1:23 PM - Reply

    Yum! This sounds like a wonderful tasting dish, and healthy too, with those nuts and berries!

    • Chef Mimi December 3, 2023 at 1:36 PM - Reply

      Thanks! I enjoyed it!

  9. Chef Mimi December 4, 2023 at 8:50 AM - Reply

    You are so welcome! It was really good!

  10. December 5, 2023 at 11:48 PM - Reply

    This nut and berry-packed pilaf is truly a special occasion sensation!

    • Chef Mimi December 7, 2023 at 6:36 AM - Reply

      You’re so right! It’s good, and very pretty!

  11. spicedblog December 6, 2023 at 6:55 AM - Reply

    I never think of northern Africa being Mediterranean, but it makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing those thoughts! Also, this recipe sounds fantastic. The mulberries might be a little hard to find, but perhaps we can use dried cranberries?

    • Chef Mimi December 7, 2023 at 6:36 AM - Reply

      I think any dried berry could be substituted, but you know what? I got mine from Amazon!

  12. Raymund December 7, 2023 at 3:43 PM - Reply

    Wow, this Palace Pilav looks absolutely incredible! I’m totally intrigued by the combination of browned butter, toasted pasta, and bulgur. And the addition of nuts and mulberries sounds like it would add a wonderful textural element. I can’t imagine a more delicious way to celebrate a special occasion!

    • Chef Mimi December 7, 2023 at 3:58 PM - Reply

      Exactly! Normally I wouldn’t follow a recipe for a Piaf, but this one was phenomenal!

  13. Karen (Back Road Journal) December 8, 2023 at 9:00 AM - Reply

    This does sound like an exceptional pilaf, but I would expect nothing less from a dish with palace in its name.

    • Chef Mimi December 8, 2023 at 11:38 AM - Reply

      That is so true!!!

  14. David Scott Allen December 8, 2023 at 4:18 PM - Reply

    Really interesting post, Mimi! And have fun all those cuisines represented on the Mediterranean happen to be among my favorites. The only pilaf I’ve ever had has been made with rice. I’m definitely excited to try this one using bulgur. Thanks!

    • Chef Mimi December 8, 2023 at 6:28 PM - Reply

      I understand. I’ve never followed a recipe for a pilaf! But, this was really fun and special.

  15. Healthy World Cuisine December 9, 2023 at 6:08 AM - Reply

    Great tip on the towel method and loved that you added a little about the geography of the dish. Love nutty bulgur wheat and with these aromatics, this dish is a home run.

    • Chef Mimi December 9, 2023 at 9:20 AM - Reply

      I personally found the geographic info very interesting. The pilaf is outstanding.

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