Saffron-scented turkey pilaf recipe

This is turkey, but not as you know it: the gloriously golden meat is cooked with rice and warming spices that will fill the house with their heavenly scent, then showered with fruit, nuts and herbs. You could use cashews, almonds or walnuts instead of pistachios, or swap out the dried cranberries for sour barberries or chopped dried apricots; whatever you decide, be generous with the garnishes.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes




  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 750g turkey thigh joint with the bone in
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 450ml chicken stock made with ½ stock cube
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp allspice, plus more to serve
  • 200g basmati rice
  • 20g dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  • 10g pistachios, roughly chopped
  • A handful of finely chopped parsley leaves
  • Plain yogurt, to serve


  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the turkey joint and brown it for 3-4 minutes each side. Remove from the pan and set to one side.
  2. Add the onion to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes until a little golden.
  3. Meanwhile, put the saffron into the hot stock and mix well so that it starts to bleed.
  4. Add the garlic and allspice to the onion and pour over the stock. Mix everything together. Return the turkey to the pan, skin side down. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for an hour or until it is cooked through.
  5. Take the turkey out of the stock and set it aside, then tip the rice into the pan. Stir well. Turn the heat up to medium and bring to the boil. Return the turkey to the pan.
  6. Cover with the lid again, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Turn off the heat and leave the dish for 10 minutes so that the rice goes fluffy.
  7. Remove the turkey from the pan and remove the meat from the bone. Season the rice with salt. Add most of the cranberries, pistachios and parsley and mix well.
  8. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the turkey. Shower the remaining cranberries, pistachios and parsley over the top (allong with a dollop of yogurt sprinkled with allspice if you like) and serve immediately.

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