Duvaklı Pilav: Rice has never been “veiled” this beautifully


Rice is a staple food around the world and there are many ways of preparing it so it’s no surprise that Turkey has its fair share of unique rice combinations, celebrating the grain.

What is Duvaklı Pilav?

This pilav is cooked in the “Turkish” manner by steeping it in water until it is fully absorbed and then topped off with a “veil” of meat.

Jump to Recipe

The origins

The Turks have been eating rice for quite some time. The grains were easy to carry in their bags for nomadic people but aside from a staple food it was used as a base for celebratory purposes as well. During the Seljuk reign, ceremonies were accompanied with pilafs of different kinds, each a different version depending on the occasion. (1)

Throughout history, the importance of rice dishes grew as there were periods where the grain was even cheaper than flour, making it the main food of many an Istanbulite in the 15th century. (2)

One of the many ceremonies where rice pilav was served is weddings. Throughout Turkey there are “Düğün Çorbası” in many variations (literally “wedding soup” in Turkish). One such rice is the “Duvaklı Pilav” – the “veil pilaf”. As the name already suggests this rice was served when the veil of the bride was lifted. (3) Nowadays rice, with the addition of meat, is usually made with chicken as it is cheaper but this Diyarbakır dish is made with lamb, even up to this day. Pinpointing the exact recipes for this rice with almonds and the combination of meat in that particular manner is hard as the oral tradition in the region is strong.

The influence of Persian and Arabic cuisines is felt in this dish, stemming from the Abbasid foodways, as the usage of almonds and spices such as allspice and cinnamon persists through to this day.


Duvak, in the meaning of “veil”, has been around for quite a while as one of the first written mentions dates back to before the 13th century in the Book of Dede Korkut, where it is referred to as “tuvak”. The word stems from the old Turkish “tuğ” meaning “banner”.

As for pilav, it was taken from the Persian pelav, which took it from the Hindi “pulav” stemming from the Sanskrit “pulaka”.

Duvaklı Pilav: Rice has never been “veiled” this beautifully

This rice-meat combination does not require a wedding to be consumed but can be enjoyed at any time you feel like.


  • 250 gr minced lamb
  • 250 gr roughly minced lamb smaller than diced
  • 300 gr rice
  • 200 gr almonds
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • salt,pepper, cinnamon, allspice pepper, cinnamon, allspice


  • Blanch the almonds and remove their skin.
  • Roast the meat and add the almonds and spices into it until it is cooked through properly.
  • Melt the butter in a separate pot and roast the rice until it changes color and cook it with about 600 ml water.
  • Close the lid and turn the heat to low so that the rice can absorb the water completely.
  • Once the rice is cooked through serve by first putting the rice and then the meat mixture on top.
  • A preferred way of serving this dish is by wetting a small bowl, adding a few spoonfuls of the meat and then adding the rice.
  • Press the mix a bit and then turn the bowl upside down on a plate making for a clean appearance.


(1) Galip Akın, Vahdet Özkoçak, Timur Gültekin, Geçmişten Günümüze Geleneksel Anadolu Mutfak Kültürünün Gelişimi
(2) Arif Bilgin, Osmanlı İstanbul’unda Yemek Kültürü in “Büyük İstanbul Tarihi”
(3) Third International Food Congress, Konya Kültür ve Turizm Vaktı, 1991