Perde pilavı (“veiled” rice) is a delicious dish from Siirt’s cuisine which has a special place in the food culture of Southeastern Anatolia, and it has many secrets.
Cooked in special fez-shaped copper containers, perde pilavı not only has a very unique taste, but it also speaks to the guests it is served to. Its different parts represent subtle messages; for example, the crust says “hide our family’s secret,” and the rice says “bring blessings into our home.”
The Family Support Center (ADEM) provides training on Siirt’s and its surrounding region’s local dishes, including perde pilavı, büryan and kitel.
ADEM Director Ayşe Demir says the course for preparing perde pilavı is very popular among attendants: “Cooking perde pilavı is a very onerous process. It takes about half a day to cook it, and it entails extreme fastidiousness to correctly cook it. Almost all of its ingredients are cooked twice. In general, it is served to brides and important guests. For instance, with the layer of dough that covers the pilav, the message given to the bride is,
‘Do not disclose the secrets of this house to other people.’ Rice represents bounty and partridge meat is a request to a bride to bear a son. Today, partridge meat is replaced with chicken. Some even use red meat.”
Ceyhan Erko provides training on how to cook perde pilavı at the ADEM. “Our goal is to promote these dishes that are unique to Siirt. These local dishes are generally hard to cook. So people tend to prefer ready-made dishes. We provide practical and updated information on how to prepare these hard-to-cook dishes. People who are awarded with certificates about these local dishes may start business in this area,” he says.
How to cook perde pilavı
This challenging dish has rice, partridge meat, almond kernels, eggs, oil and flour as ingredients. Cook the rice and casseroled meat in separate pots and let them cool. Then, prepare dough with abundant oil and eggs. Cover the insides of the fez-shaped copper cooking containers with this dough. Gently roast almond kernels and insert them into this dough; then, fry this outer shell slightly with butter. Peel some almond kernels and boil them. Mix these almond kernels with slightly cooked rice. Fill the fez-shaped containers with one layer of rice followed by one layer of meat. After the containers are filled to capacity, cover the top part with the dough and refit the lid and bake the containers in the oven. Cook for more than one hour and put the container on a tray and remove the containers. Cut the fried dough layer with a knife and serve the pilav.