Almost Turkish Recipes

Leeks in Olive Oil (Zeytinyağlı Pırasa)

In Turkish cuisine, most "pırasa" dishes, originally praso from Greek, are attributed to Albanian Turks. Not only leeks feature predominantly in Albanian immigrants' dishes, but also they make, hands down, the best leek dishes. The Albanian börek (phyllo pastry) with leeks is just to die for. Although leeks have a milder flavor with a sweet touch than its relatives onions and garlic, for some it is still quite overwhelming. So in Turkey you either love them or not at all, a well known fact that seems to have inspired Baba Zula, a Turkish alternative music band, to compose a song called pırasa the lyrics of which goes: "There are two different kinds of people in this world: those who love leeks, and those who don't.... those who don't know how to love leeks and then those who can love them" This is the recipe that turned me into one of those who know how to enjoy leeks!

for 4 people
4 regular leeks or 2 King leeks, really hard top dark green parts discarded, washed well and chopped in 1/3 inch rounds
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped in rounds or half moons
1/4 cup or a handful of rice
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
2/3 - 1 cup hot water, to cover the leeks
1 tsp sugar

-Heat olive oil in a pot on medium and add onions, cook until soft but NOT brown. This is an olive oil dish and having browned onions in olive oil dishes changes the taste completely.
-Add carrots and sugar, stir for 3 more minutes
-Add leeks and stir for a couple of minutes until wilted
-Add rice and cook for a minute.
-Add lemon juice, salt and water to barely cover the leeks.
-Cover and cook on low heat until rice is cooked, approximately 20-25 minutes.
-Let the leeks cool down to room temperature in its own pot, lid closed.
-Transfer to a serving plate and serve at room temperature or cold.
-In Turkey 1=2 tbsp olive oils is scattered on top of the leeks on the serving plate to have a shinier look.

Usually when leeks are served, sliced lemons would be available on the table for extra drops of fresh lemon juice on top. It brings up the flavors beautifully. Eat with a nice loaf of bread. I love eating them mostly for lunch with yogurt on the side.


  1. Anonymous4:12 AM

    My mother used to make a similar dish adding sometimes cabbage too. I hated it as a kid and still don't like it now, but I love leeks, so I really can't explain it!

  2. Niiiice... One of the finest Turkish comfort-food dishes ever! Certainly better on day two. I find that if you increase the olive oil + onion, it can almost have a dip-like texture.. great for scooping up with pita..

  3. Anonymous7:26 AM

    Oh, I love leeks and rice (gr. prassorizo)although I also hated as a kid. Sometimes I add some spearmint too.

  4. Anonymous5:18 AM

    Leeks are of the onion family. So cook without onions the next time and also, add the lemon juice just before you eat. You may want to try.

  5. Anonymous2:01 PM

    I love zeytinyagli pirasa. Yours looks great! SO true about loving/hating it:) I LOVE it, he HATES it. So sadly I don't get to cook it too often in our house:( I have to convert him somehow:)

  6. Ouuu that nice onion flavour with rice, I know I'd enjoy this dish.

  7. This looks delicious. I love leeks, and I can't imagine anyone not liking them as well. I think once you try them you are 'hooked'. Yum.

  8. Anonymous6:36 AM

    just like i remember from istanbul! thanks for all your great recipes.

  9. this tastes exactly like my moms recipe! delicious:)

  10. Anonymous11:01 AM

    Just bought (one prasa from Sainsbury)
    I don't remember how I cooked itbut it seems you need meat to compliment it.Well,tough! I will just put a little oil& tomato puree,or some tinned tomato, stir it awhile then add the chunks of prasa & see it I can enjoy it.(oh it is for one person)
    I never heard of mixing onion or carrots with it.Nor rice in the recipe.
    And if I don't like the result ...into the bin it will go
    p/s Lemon is definitely should be

  11. Anonymous6:26 AM

    Hi, I was borned and raised in An kara. I love your site. Sema

  12. We love Prassa! Good thing I watched my mom make it a few times. Bamyas as well!