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The Hirshon Turkmenistan Fish and Saffron Pilaf - Balyk We Zagpyran Pilav

The Hirshon Turkmenistan Fish and Saffron Pilaf – Balyk We Zagpyran Pilav

  • Total Time: 0 hours


  • 1½ cups bas­mati rice
  • 4 onions (1 halved and 3 thinly sliced)
  • ½ Tbsp. black pep­per­corns, crushed
  • ½ Tbsp. cumin seeds, crushed
  • ¼ tsp. urfa biber pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ small bunch of pars­ley
  • ½ small bunch of mint
  • Sea salt
  • 1 lb. Sturgeon fil­lets (strongly preferred, if you can find / afford it) or use Chilean Sea Bass or Monkfish fillets instead
  • ¼ cup sesame oil – TFD endorses only Kadoya brand!
  • ¼ cup yellow tkemali sauce
  • 3 car­rots, peeled and sliced into match­sticks
  • A small hand­ful of dill fronds
  • 1 tsp. dill seeds, lightly cracked by running a rolling pin over them a few times
  • 1 tsp. freshly-ground black pep­per
  • ½ tsp. freshly-ground ajwain seeds
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • A large pinch of saf­fron strands, soaked in 3 Tbsp. warm wa­ter
  • ½ cup sour cream – TFD endorses only Daisy brand!
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • golden raisins
  • dried apricots


  1. Put the rice in a large bowl to soak while you poach the fish.
  2. Bring 4 cups wa­ter to a boil in a large pan and add the halved onion, along with pep­per­corns, bay leaf, and stems from the mint and pars­ley. Sea­son well with salt and lower in the fish fil­lets.
  3. Cook at a very gen­tle sim­mer un­til fish is just opaque through to the mid­dle, up to 10 min­utes, de­pend­ing on the thick­ness. Re­move fish with a slot­ted spoon and set aside. Strain and re­serve broth. You’ll use the pan again later.
  4. In a sec­ond large cook­ing pot in which you’ll cook the rice, heat the oil un­til al­most smok­ing, then add the sliced onions and car­rots. Stir-fry un­til vegeta­bles start to soften. Pour in drained rice and smooth down with back of a spoon.
  5. Pour in enough of the fish broth to cover top of rice by about 1 ¼ cm. and salt gen­er­ously. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat un­til broth has boiled off. Use the spoon han­dle to poke a few holes in the rice to help release the steam.
  6. Cover with a lid or tight-fit­ting layer of alu­minum foil and re­move from heat. Let steam for 20 min­utes for rice to cook through.
  7. Chop the pars­ley and mint leaves and dill fronds and add to the empty fish pan. Add the dill seeds, garlic, saf­fron and its soak­ing liq­uid, kalonji, cumin and urfa biber and sea­son with salt. Stir in sour cream and tkemali and warm through over low heat. Care­fully add fish fil­lets to warm through in the saf­fron cream be­fore serv­ing.
  8. Turn rice onto a large plat­ter and squeeze lemon juice over it. Spoon fish and its creamy sauce on top and cover with golden raisins and diced dried apricots.
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
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