Recipe: Fragrant pilaf with hazelnuts & braised turnips


Don’t flinch at the idea of a turnip. Spring or summer turnips are small and sweet with a radish-like taste.

Cooking a good pilaf is all about light but fragrant spicing and gentle cooking of the rice. 


  • 200g basmati rice
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 400g spring turnips
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 25g butter
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 pilaf spice pot, containing:
  • Pinch saffron
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 125g flat green beans
  • 3 spring onions
  • 100g asparagus
  • 40g toasted hazelnuts
  • 30g parsley
  • 15g dill


Put a pan of well salted water on to boil. Wash the rice thoroughly in the sieve under running water until the water starts to run clear. Peel the zest away from the lemon in thin strips with a potato peeler.

Tip the rice into the pan of boiling water, making sure the water covers it well. Return it to the boil and simmer for 6 minutes. Before starting the pilaf, peel your turnips. Cut them into 2cm chunks. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the other saucepan and get it very hot. Throw in the turnips, season with salt and fry them vigorously for 1 minute. Add the cider vinegar, 80ml of water and half the butter. Bring to a boil and clamp the lid on tight.

Cook for 20 minutes, stirring at regular intervals. Meanwhile, trim and finely slice the green beans into 1cm pieces, at an angle.

Trim and finely slice 3 spring onions. Melt the remaining butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the cleaned rice pan. Add the pilaf spice pot, half the cinnamon stick, and 3 strips of lemon zest. Fry lightly for 1 minute. Press the cardamom pods with a wooden spoon to split them.

Tip 80ml of water into the pan and add the rice. Season well with salt and pepper. Gently stir it through the butter, then level it out and press 8 holes into the surface with the handle of a spoon.  Pop the lid on, fold the edges up and over the lid so they don’t catch. Cook on a very low heat for 5 minutes. Trim away the tough ends from 100g of asparagus 

Slice the asparagus stalks into 1cm pieces. Keep the spear heads whole. Add the green beans, spring onions and asparagus to the rice. 

Return to a low heat for a further 15 minutes, until the rice and veg are tender. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the hazelnuts. Wash the parsley and half the dill. Shake them dry, pick the leaves and fronds from the stalks and finely chop them.

Stir the dill into the turnips. Stir the parsley and hazelnuts into the rice. Serve the pilaf with the turnips on top. For more delicious recipes like this see