Last August while visiting Istanbul, I watched the chefs in the kitchen preparing a pilaf of Armenian origin called "midia pilaf." It was Dilara's pet peeve to check the color and caramelization of the onions, what she described as the key flavor of the dish.
The other ingredients I found out later were hints of spice, bits of pine nuts, sweet currants, with the perfume of mussels, their juices absorbed by the morsels of rice.
I have been yearning to make the dish for some time. With no one else in the house, my music cranked to obnoxious levels and my hands deep in cake making, I finally found the time to do it, today. Yay! Chocolate and mussels, well...you would be surprised, it's a great palate cleanser?!
This adaption of the recipe is loosely based on what I remember from the day in Dilara's kitchen in Turkey, as well as various books and internet sources. I was pleased with the results. So was my wife. We finished the whole pot!
1 bushel of cleaned and de-bearded mussels
1/4 cup of currants
1/4 cup of toasted pignola nuts
2 cups of Turkish pilaf rice or a short grain paella rice
3.75 cups of liquid,(broth, clam juice, or better still mussel juice
3 large onions chopped and cooked till translucent and golden brown
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup olive oil
2 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
If you can get shucked mussels your lucky, if not start shucking or do as I did. Par steam the mussel's for about 2 minutes until they just start to open. Let them cool rapidly on a sheet pan. Open the mussels and remove the meat, collect all the juices and strain for later.
Chop onions and place into a pot with olive oil, over medium heat, stir until translucent and golden brown. Add in rice that has been rinsed three times until water is clear. Stir until lightly toasted, add in currants and pine nuts, finally the liquid, season and cover 30-40 minutes until liquid is evaporated over a low heat. Let it rest for a few minutes and serve either hot or room temperature.