RECIPE: Armenian Pilaf with Raisins and Almonds



What is Thanksgiving without pilaf? From her Armenian mother Alice Vartanian of Fresno, and grandmother, Pepay Sarkisian from Lowell, Mass. and Los Angeles, Christine Vartanian Datian learned how to prepare many holiday dishes including this festive nut- and fruit-topped pilaf. This updated version of a family favorite is in demand, especially during the holidays.


Yield: Makes 8 servings



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5-6 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 ounces dried vermicelli, crushed or broken into pieces

2 cups long-grain white rice

1 quart fat-skimmed chicken or turkey broth

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds

1/2 cup coarsely chopped golden or black raisins

1/2 cup frozen petite peas (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice



  1. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Break vermicelli into 1-inch lengths.  Add pasta and rice to butter and stir often until golden, about 5-8 minutes.
  2. Add the broth, allspice, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until rice is tender to bite, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in an 8- to 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat, melt remaining 1 or 2 tablespoons butter.  Add the almonds and stir often until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the raisins and stir until they puff, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir peas, parsley, and lemon juice into rice. Cover and simmer until peas are hot, about 3 minutes. Pour pilaf into a serving bowl or on a platter and sprinkle with the raisin and nut mixture.  (Diced dried dates and apricots may also be used in this topping.)


(Christine Vartanian Datian is a native of Fresno and resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.  She has worked in Fresno, San Francisco, Reno, and Las Vegas in advertising, marketing, gaming, and government subcontracting, and has served as a copywriter and technical writer.  She is a graduate of California State University, Fresno (CSUF), and holds a Master of Arts Degree (MA) in News Editorial Journalism from CSUF. This recipe originally appeared in Sunset magazine, in November 1998.)


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