Almost Turkish Recipes

Zucchini with Rice (Pirinçli Kabak)

Light zucchini dishes in olive oil are the best for hot summer days, especially when zucchinis are in abundance just like now. This one has been one of my favorites with yogurt on the side since my childhood. In my adult life, it makes a perfect lunch. Since it's cooked with olive oil you can have it warm or cold, but preferably cold. The dish is usually made with the addition of fresh tomatoes; however, I don't like to cover the flavor of dill and mint, so I don't use tomatoes or tomato paste. If you want some color in your zucchini dish, add 2 grated tomatoes or 1 can of petite diced tomato before adding zucchinis. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes and then add zucchini and water. With rice, mint, and dill, this dish it appeals even to those who don't like zucchini.

4-5 medium size zucchinis, scraped and cut in 1/2 inch quarters
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
2-3 tbsp or 1/4 olive oil
(2 carrots, cut in quarters--if you're using any)
(2-3 tomatoes, grated--if you're using any)
2 tbsp white rice (the amount of rice varies between 1 tbsp to 1/3 cup, and accordingly it turns out to be a zucchini heavy or rice heavy dish.) You can opt for quinoa, bulgur, or no grains at all. 
1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped or 2 tbsp dried mint flakes
1/2 bunch dill, chopped
water, double the amount of grain: if you use 2 tbsp rice, use 4 tbsp water; if you use 1/4 cup rice, use 1/2 cup water, etc.

-Heat oil in a broad and shallow pot. Saute onion and (carrot, if you're using any) until soft, but don't let the onions brown.
-Add zucchini and garlic. Saute until zucchini softens.
-(Add tomatoes now, if you want a colorful dish. Cook until they darken in color. ~5 mins)
-Add water. Wait until it starts boiling and then add rice (If you add rice before it boils, then rice turns mushy).
-Add salt and mint.
-Cover and simmer on low until rice is cooked, approximately 25 minutes. Check now and then to make sure i has enough water. If it doesn't, add some boiling water. 
-Add dill after you turn it off.
-You can serve it warm or cold. If you will serve it cold, let it cool down in its pot, lid closed.
-It goes well with yogurt and fresh bread. It makes a great lunch.


  1. All your food sounds good to me! This is very similar to something my mother used to make. You'll probably get a laugh out of this, but in our family we called it "Arabian Stew" because mother learned the recipe from a friend who was Persian. I believe her version also had cucumber, added at the very end of the cooking time.

  2. Thanks, Kalyn! I didn't know this was a Persian recipe, too. I have never cooked with cucumbers, but I think I'll give it a try next time i cook zucchini.

  3. I love the use of fresh herbs, especially mint, with cooked vegetables. It's such fun to learn more about Turkish cooking through your blog.

  4. Burcu, I really love rice dish like this. A perfect combo!

  5. Anonymous1:33 AM

    This sounds lovely for Summer. I really like dill, mint and yogurt flavours together so I'm book marking this one for later!

  6. I would love that cold. Yum! It looks perfect for the upcoming squash season! :):)

  7. That looks so great!

  8. i was wondering if this recipe is also Thracian.. my grandmother calls this dish "kabak kalle" and it was the favorite dish to celebrate the spring with the fresh garlic..

  9. Burcu, your recipes never disappoint me! I made this for dinner tonight and it was wonderful, so perfect after a warm summer day. I'll be glad for some of what's leftover in the next few days.

  10. Anonymous10:26 AM

    "Kabak kalye", yemegin ismi bu. Elinize saglik. A.

  11. I made this as a lunch salad. Nice start but the spicing needed help. I add the zest and juice of half a lemon at the end, along with a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, coriander and cumin. Then I drizzled some olive oil over the top. Without those the flavor was a bit dull, at least to my taste buds.

  12. This was so delicious. I used dried mint and dried dill, because that's all I had. I can't wait to try this in summer when zucchini are in season. I'm sure that this will be even tastier. We ate it for dinner alongside one of your lentil recipes, a good loaf of bread and a bit of feta and yogurt. Thanks for this delicious recipe.