Garbanzo Bean Pilaf (Nohutlu Pilav)


Now a highly common and popular street food, garbanzo bean pilaf (nohutlu pilav), was a special dish served during the reign of Mehmet the Conqueror by Grand Vizier Mahmut Paşa to his guests. Mahmut Paşa’s pilaf had both real, edible garbanzo beans and garbanzo beans made out of gold! Mahmut Paşa called the golden ones his “diş kirası,” which literary translates as “tooth money.” But don’t think it was a compensation for broken teeth! In the past it was a tradition of wealthy families to give a feast for the poor and the wealthy alike during the month of Ramadan. The family would give a small gift to everyone who attended the fast breaking dinner (iftar) for kind-of renting their teeth to their hosts for the night. Apparently Mahmut Paşa offered the gift in the food in stead of handing it out.

Nowadays in Turkey you can eat this rich and tasty pilaf, usually along with pieces of chicken, at small sloppy restaurants during the day and on the street late at night, post-bar hours, and with no “tooth money.”

1 cups rice
1/2 cup garbanzo beans (soaked over night and boiled the next day until cooked or use can garbanzo beans)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp butter (traditionally sheep’s tail fat is used for this recipe, but we settle down for butter now)
2 cups of water
salt and pepper


-Heat butter in a non-stick pot.
-Add onion and stir until soft.
-Add rice and garbanzo beans. Stir for a couple of minutes.
-Add water, salt, and pepper.
-Let it boil first and then turn it to low heat. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed. Do not stir the rice while cooking.
-Turn it off and cover the top of the pot with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Place lid on tightly. Let sit for ~10 minutes.
-Fluff and serve it as a main dish or as a side with meat.

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