Chicken and Chickpea Pilaf

Turkish Chicken & Chickpea Pilaf or Tavuklu Nohutlu Pilav, made from shredded barbecue chicken with rice and chickpeas is always filling and delicious. Especially when loaded up with juicy chicken and topped with spicy pickled peppers.

COMFORT FOOD ALERT! (And we all need a little comfort at the moment, don’t you think?) Today’s recipe for Turkish-style Chicken and Chickpea Pilaf is a firm favourite in my kitchen.

Chicken and Chickpea Pilaf

What is Chicken and Chickpea Pilaf?

Gently spiced chicken and onions served with a warming pilaf of rice and chickpeas. Topped with juicy tomato and a hint of bright and zingy lemon, there are some incredible flavours going on in this dish and I know you’re going to love it.

Where does Chicken and Chickpea Pilaf come from?

This sort of pilaf is actually a famous Turkish street food! have to make a confession. I hardly ever eat take-out food.

As I’m most of the day in the kitchen, there is always plenty of food to grab out of the fridge so I don’t even think about it. However, when I lived in Cyprus, one of my greatest temptations was Tavuklu Nohutlu Pilav – shredded barbecue chicken with rice and chickpeas.

This is a meal that is everywhere in the Turkish culture, from roadside stalls to supermarket counters and fast food joints. It’s always filling and delicious – especially when loaded up with juicy chicken and topped with some spicy pickled peppers.

So this is an authentic Turkish Recipe?

As always, when I make a recipe at home I can’t help but experiment with the ingredients, so this recipe is by no means official, however, it IS delicious. Turkey is a vast country with as many different versions of recipes as there are cooks, so everybody has their own special tweaks.

I’m in a rush! Is there any way I can make this pilaf faster?

You can make this pilaf even faster if you grab a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket.

I have to tell you that the marinade and chicken thighs in this recipe are so quick and easy to put together (not to mention more economical, and we all like it when recipes are easy on the wallet) that they are basically made in the time it takes to cook the rice.

Chicken and Chickpea Pilaf

What should I serve with Chickpea Pilaf?

To be fair, this is a complete meal in and of itself, however if you want to cook some other lovely Turkish or Cypriot dishes to go alongside, why not make up a batch of Bulgur Salad, a delicious Greek (and Turkish!) Village Salad, or even some Baklava for afters?


I don’t eat chicken, can I make this recipe without?

Of course, this is commonly eaten in Turkey and Cyprus as a purely vegetarian dish. Leave out the chicken and use vegetable stock. It’s comforting but you may like something with some texture alongside, a nice crisp salad or similar.

Can I make Chicken and Chickpea Pilaf in advance?

Definitely! In fact, I think things like this often benefit from reheating. It also freezes well, so is great for preparing well in advance for work or similar. When I cook rice that I know I will reheat, I use a little less water to stop it from getting soggy.

Is this pilaf spicy? I don’t like spicy food!

I use a fairly mild type of chilli in this, pul biber, which is commonly used in Turkish cooking. As always, the beauty of cooking at home is you can adjust the spice to suit your tastes. Replacing the chilli with ground ginger would be lovely and give a more mild heat.

What is Pul Biber?

A type of dried red pepper flake essential to Turkish cooking, sold from sweet to very very spicy! It’s sometimes known as Aleppo Pepper in English and can be found at any Turkish shop. You can replace it with mild chilli flakes.

Chicken and Chickpea Pilaf
Chicken and Chickpea Pilaf

Chicken & Chickpea Pilaf

Jay Wadams
Chicken & Chickpea Pilaf or Tavuklu Nohutlu Pilav: shredded barbecue chicken with rice and chickpeas. This is a meal that is everywhere in the Turkish culture, from roadside stalls to supermarket counters and fast food joints.
It’s always filling and delicious – especially when loaded up with juicy chicken and topped with some spicy pickled peppers.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Serves 4


for the marinade:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp ground chilli
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

for the chicken:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 large red onions, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

for the pilaf:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 150-175 g ong grain rice
  • 500 ml hot chicken stock/broth, made with 2 tsp chicken stock powder
  • 400 g can chickpeas, drained

to serve:

  • 125 g cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • pickled chilli peppers, to taste
  • lemon slices, to taste


  • 1 tbsp sumac, to sprinkle over


  • PREPARE AND MARINATE CHICKEN: Heat the oven to 220°C / 425°F / Gas 7. Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl, slice the chicken thighs in half and toss through the marinade. Note: Chicken can be kept in the marinade for up to 24 hours in the fridge.
  • COOK THE ONIONS AND MEAT: Halve the red onions and slice finely. Scatter over the base of an approx. 20x30cm ovenproof dish, drizzle over the oil and toss to combine. Place the chicken thighs on top, in one layer if possible, pouring over any remaining marinade.
  • BAKE: Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then turn the thighs over and bake for a further 10 minutes. Cover with tinfoil and keep warm.
  • MAKE THE PILAF: Meanwhile, prepare the pilaf by heating the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring over low heat for 5 minutes until softened, but not browned. Add the rice to the pan and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring so that it doesn’t catch.
  • ADD THE STOCK: Pour in the hot stock and chickpeas, stir well, then bring to the boil. Cover the saucepan tightly and reduce the heat to minimum and cook very gently for 10-15 minutes (see note), until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • MIX: When you are ready to serve, either stir the chicken through the pilaf, fluffing it up with a fork (tastier as all the juices soak through the pilaf) or divide the chicken and pilaf between 4 plates (more beautiful as you can arrange it nicely).
  • GARNISH: Scatter over the cherry tomatoes and some parsley and serve with pickled chillies and sliced lemon. I like to sprinkle over a big pinch of sumac but it’s not essential.


Rice can cook very differently depending on which type it is. While I often use Basmati rice which will cook in around 10 minutes, the supermarkets at the moment a have been completely cleared out of dried goods so in these photos I have used parboiled rice which takes longer to cook, around 15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes, the rice should look dry on top with lots of small air holes. If it looks a bit liquid, replace the cover and cook a further 5 minutes.
Also, I cook on a gas stovetop, which means when I reduce the heat to a minimum, it really IS minimum. If you are using an electric or ceramic cooker I would recommend moving the rice to a fresh element to get it to low heat, as electric and ceramic cookers stay hot for a lot longer.

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Serving: 1serving | Calories: 683kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 172mg | Sodium: 955mg | Potassium: 1081mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1916IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Leave a review or a star rating and let me know how it was! Use the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram so I can see your delicious creations.
Course | Main Course
Cuisine | Cypriot
Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author, food photographer and Le Cordon Bleu Gastronomy and Nutrition graduate. Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

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