Mount Ararat pilaf (Ararat Pilav)

June 7, 2013  •  Category:

When the war officially ended in Lebanon, there was a lot that needed to be done to rebuild the country; Mrs Micha Sarraf and her friends decided to put together a cookbook in order to raise money to help the Red Cross. The cookbook was called Mijotons (tr: Let’s concoct something). The ladies involved in this project asked many embassies in Lebanon, as well as a number of ladies from various communities to submit a recipe; this one was offered by the Embassy of Armenia. I saw that Laura Kelly  had traveled to this beautiful country, and had posted an image of Mount Ararat on her facebook page. 

The idea here is to recreate this beautiful mountain, so symbolic and so dear to the Armenian soul; you pile up the rice and fill apples with brandy; when dinner starts, the lights are out and the brandy is flambéed. 

I am posting the recipe from the book; I played around with the ingredients, using different fruits (Idid not have any quince).


2 cups long-grain rice

4 cups chicken or meat stock

3 Tbsp butter or margarine

4 apples, sliced

2 or 3 apples, half-peeled

2 quince, sliced

1/2 cup grapes

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup dried prunes 

1/2 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup brandy

clarified butter for frying

Rinse the rice and soak in water for one hour; drain it; in a Dutch oven, over medium heat, melt the butter and fry the rice until all the grains are glistening. Add the stock, cover and cook. 

In the meantime, in a large skillet place 1 cup of clarified butter over medium heat; sauté the fruits. Core the whole apples (leaving uncore section at the bottom) and fill with brandy.

To assemble: On a round platter, place the rice in a mound resembling Mount Ararat. Insert the apples halfway through. Place the sliced apples and quince around the base and sprinkle the sides with the dried fruits. 

At serving time, turn off the lights and light up the apples.

Recipe is from the Embassy of Armenia

Cookbook Mijotons, by Micha Sarraf, Maya Sarraf, Wadad Kanaan, Fadia Wardé.

This book was published in order to help the Lebanese Red Cross finance a team of emergency dispatch. (1997)


The images were the result of a collaborative effort with the professional  photographer Rudy Shoushany. (check out his shot of a woman lounging on a camel in the middle of the desert, woohoo!!!) 


18 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    Beautiful! That is such a great idea.



  2. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Such beautiful imagery!

  3. Needful Things says:

    Such a wonderful, inspiring idea.
    Another example of how the amazing food community can mobilize things and bring people together for important causes.

  4. Sarah G says:

    This is a lovely story and a beautiful dish. I like the brandy flambe idea.

  5. Lisa the Gourmet Wog says:

    As an Armenian I have to admit I have never heard of Mt Ararat pilaf before, but it certainly looks most delicious!!! You’re certainly right about Mt Ararat, It may be geographically listed as Turkey now, but it will always be an Armenian symbol etched in our hearts.

  6. MaryAthenes says:

    Ouaaaah ! Superbe !
    Bises d’Athenes

  7. Laura@Silkroadgourme says:

    This is lovely, Joumana!

    Thanks so much for making this!

    If possible – use Ararat Brandy!


  8. Oui, Chef says:

    WOW…now that looks like a dish for a special occasion!

  9. Alis~ Washington DC says:

    Gorgeous! Joumana, I’ve followed your blog forever, and I love it when you post my people’s recipies! 🙂 I’ve never heard of it called Mt. Ararat Pilaf, but we certainly make this dish calling it “Anush Pilaf” (Sweet Pilaf) especially around the holidays. Love the brandy/apply idea! I’m going to bring a twist to the next holidays! Keep ’em coming!

  10. Matt says:

    Sorry to post on an unrelated recipe, but i am not sure if you get a notification for every comment or if you just manually check the ones on your current/latest recipes.

    Since you live in America, it might be similar to Canada in terms of groceries. Where do you get Laban (Yoghurt) for cooking runny recipes like Koosa bLaban. All we have here is 1/2/3/6% thick yoghurt (thicker than laban, thinner than greek yoghurt) that doesn’t really taste or feels like it can be used as a substitute.

  11. Gayane says:

    Thank you! You made my day to mention our nations pride Mt. ARARAT.

  12. Matt says:

    Thank you for replying, i haven’t considered that.

    How would you go to describe labnah to a foreigner (well, in this case i am the foreigner) though? What kind of animal/taste/consistency/method etc should i ask to get to stick to labnah as closely as possible? We have many farms here in BC, Canada so am hoping someone has labnah!

    Wonderful recipes btw, i will try some of them next time i go grocery shopping.

    • Joumana says:

      @Matt: labnah or labneh is simply drained yogurt; the better the yogurt, the better the labneh; I have a couple posts in the blog on labneh.
      Labneh is a breakfast item in Lebanon (or light dinner) eaten with bread and tomatoes and mint and olive oil
      as fas a yogurt, the best is to get it from a dairy farm, full fat; now I have prepared dishes in the US with cooked yogurt but it is not as creamy as in Lebanon because the yogurt in the US is lower fat, pasteurized milk, factory-made, etc etc. so I prefer to keep the yogurt uncooked and make a fatteh instead; a fatteh is when you serve the dish with bread croutons and top it with yogurt (several posts on it in the blog with different ingredients).

  13. Rebecca says:

    Hello Joumana
    I love your blog, I have a Lebanese husband and I consult your blog on a daily basis for ideas for dinner.
    I love the idea of this recipe and it looks amazing, something I can serve at a dinner party – however, do you think there could be any way to make this recipe halal and to omit the alcohol, for your Muslim readers? I suppose you could leave the apple and brandy out but that is the focal point of the dish! I’m wondering if there is something equally as impressive that could be substituted?

    • Joumana says:

      @Rebecca: Thanks for your praise, I confess that I did not use brandy, just stuffed the apple with a tiny candle; I would just use the apple idea for effect, not to drink 🙂

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