Artichoke and barberry bulgur pilav with fried mussels

Artichoke and barberry bulgur pilav with fried mussels

Lisa Cohen and William Meppem

Pilavs made with bulgur wheat are especially popular in south-eastern Turkey. We enjoyed many different versions during our stay in Gaziantep – although none with seafood. But I think the delicate nutty flavour and slight chewiness of the grain work beautifully with these crunchy fried mussels. Just make sure you use coarse bulgur and not the fine variety, which is better used for salads and köfte.


Quantity Ingredient
3 artichokes
200g coarse bulgur
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, seeded and shredded
2 tablespoons barberries or currants
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 vine-ripened tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup dill, chopped
1 teaspoon dried mint
300ml * chicken stock [rid:9962]
generous pinch sea salt

Fried mussels

Quantity Ingredient
35 mussels, scrubbed and bearded
100ml * chicken stock [rid:9962]
3 garlic cloves
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
200ml beer
2/3 cup self-raising flour
pinch bicarbonate of soda
pinch sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
2-3 ice cubes
plain flour


  1. Trim the outer hard leaves from the artichokes and cut in half lengthwise through the stalk. Use a sharp knife to remove the choke, then drop the trimmed artichokes into acidulated water.
  2. To make the pilav, soak the bulgur in cold water for 5 minutes. While it’s soaking, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the shallot, garlic, chilli, barberries, paprika and pepper and sauté over medium heat for a few minutes until the shallot softens. Slice the artichokes thinly and add them to the pan. Sauté for 3–4 minutes, then add the tomato and herbs.
  3. Bring the stock to the boil, then lower the heat and keep at a simmer. Drain the bulgur and squeeze it to remove any excess water. Add to the pan with the salt. Stir in the simmering stock, then bring to the boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over a low heat for 12 minutes. Remove the lid, increase the heat and cook until the liquid has been completely absorbed. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  4. While the pilav is cooking, prepare the fried mussels. Put the mussels into a large saucepan with the stock and garlic. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, then cook over a high heat for about 4 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, until the mussels open. Discard any that refuse to open.
  5. To fry the mussels, heat the oil to 200ºC in a large saucepan or deep-fryer. Whisk the beer, self-raising flour, bicarbonate of soda, paprika and mint to make a light batter. Add the ice cubes, which keep the batter cold and help make it really crisp. In batches of six, dust the mussels lightly with plain flour, then dip them into the batter and fry for 2–3 minutes, or until golden brown. Be careful as the oil will splutter and spit a lot. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mussels to drain on kitchen paper – keep them warm while you fry the remaining mussels.
  6. To serve, tip the pilav onto a serving platter, then stack the fried mussels on top.
Middle Eastern
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