Make this easy and delicious rice vermicelli dish in no time! All you need is a package of rice vermicelli noodles, olive oil, and ghee. This side dish pairs well with practically any entrée, and it takes just a few minutes to prepare to make it the perfect addition to any meal.
Lebanese rice with vermicelli is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and one of the most beloved rice dishes. It’s crafted using long-grain rice and vermicelli noodles, which are first toasted in ghee. The result is a visually stunning dish with golden, fried vermicelli noodles that lend an exquisite touch to the rice. The toasting process also imparts a delightful nutty flavor, elevating the overall dish.
In Arabic, this rice dish is known as ‘RUZ MA SHARREH,’ which directly translates to ‘rice with vermicelli.’ In my home country of Jordan, this Lebanese rice is a frequent presence on our dining table, making its appearance almost four times a week. We enjoy it alongside dishes like bamia with lamb, roasted chicken, or the delicious molokhia, a savory combination of jute mallow leaves and shredded chicken.
This Lebanese rice dish, much like other Middle Eastern rice variations including hashwa, Greek yellow rice, and Yemeni rice, holds a special place in our daily meals, reflecting the rich and diverse culinary traditions of the region.
What is Vermicelli?
Vermicelli is a type of pasta that resembles short, thin spaghetti with its yellowish color and delicate texture. While it shares a similar thickness to angel hair pasta, vermicelli is notably simpler in appearance. You can typically find vermicelli in the pasta section of your local grocery store. If you have trouble locating it, you can also break up angel hair pasta into smaller pieces as a substitute. In the context of making vermicelli rice, toasting the vermicelli in a pan with olive oil and ghee is essential to enhance its flavor. Additionally, vermicelli noodles are commonly used in various dishes, including Middle Eastern favorites like chicken with vermicelli, which happens to be one of my personal favorites and a beloved dish that my grandmother used to prepare with great care and love.
1. Water or Broth: Choose between water or broth for cooking your rice vermicelli. Broth adds depth and complexity to the dish, while water works well if broth isn’t available.
2. Salt and Spices: Adjust salt based on whether you use unsalted or salted butter. Experiment with spices like cinnamon, turmeric, or cardamom to customize the flavor to your liking.
3. Fat Choices: Traditionally, ghee is used for a nutty flavor, but butter is a suitable alternative. Mix and match these fats according to your preference.
4. Optional Nuts or Dried Fruit: Enhance your dish with chopped nuts or dried fruit. Keep in mind that these additions may change the flavor profile, so adjust seasoning accordingly. Almonds, pistachios, raisins, or dried cranberries are excellent options to explore. Enjoy these variations!
Tips for the Best Middle Eastern Rice with Vermicelli
- Rinse the Rice Thoroughly: To achieve the best fluffy and non-sticky rice, wash the rice a few times to remove excess starch. Use your fingers to gently move the rice around while rinsing until the water runs clear.
- Soak the Rice (Optional): For optimal results, soak the rice in warm water for about 20 minutes before cooking. This can help the rice grains expand and cook more evenly.
- Adjust Vermicelli Quantity: Tailor the amount of vermicelli to your preference. If you like more vermicelli, feel free to add extra. Toast the vermicelli in the same pot you’ll be using for cooking to preserve all the flavors.
- Toast Vermicelli Carefully: When toasting the vermicelli, stir it frequently to prevent burning. The color will change from light brown to dark brown, and the darker it gets, the nuttier the flavor becomes.
- Fluff with a Fork: After the rice is cooked, always use a fork to fluff the rice. Avoid using a spoon, as it can compress the grains together, resulting in mushy rice. Fluffing keeps the vermicelli rice grains separate and light.
- Rice-to-Water Ratio: Generally, for every cup of uncooked rice, you’ll need approximately 1.5 to 2 cups of water or broth, depending on your desired rice texture. Soaked rice may require slightly less liquid. Keep in mind that one cup of uncooked rice typically yields about 3 cups of cooked rice.
By following these tips, you’ll master the art of preparing the best Middle Eastern rice with vermicelli, ensuring a delightful and satisfying dish every time. Enjoy!
What Should I Serve Lebanese Rice With?
When it comes to serving vermicelli rice, you have plenty of options to choose from. This Middle Eastern dish, with its light ghee and olive oil flavors, pairs well with a variety of other Middle Eastern delights. For instance, you can enjoy it alongside a refreshing yogurt cucumber salad or as a side dish to complement the rich flavors of beef goulash. If you’re in the mood for poultry, consider serving it with a flavorful chicken tagine. Kofta kebabs with tahini sauce or lamb chops seasoned with rosemary and garlic make for satisfying and harmonious pairings with vermicelli rice. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try it alongside a dish like stuffed eggplant karniyark.
Lastly, don’t forget to explore my other rice recipes, including Yemeni-style basmati rice, Greek lemon-yellow rice, and a Mediterranean rice bowl with za’atar and feta. With vermicelli rice, you have the freedom to create a meal that suits your taste and preferences, making every dining experience a delightful one. Enjoy your culinary journey!
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Have you made this delicious rice and vermicelli recipe? Please feel free to leave a comment below. I love to hear from you.