Fuss free rice with vermicelli also known as Lebanese rice, Arabic rice, or Middle Eastern rice. Simple and easy, no rinsing, no soaking, so no more waiting for the 20 minutes soaking time. A classic staple in the Middle East that goes very well with any stew especially with bamya (okra stew).
Lebanese rice or in Arabic “ruz bil shareeyah”, is rice pilaf made with vermicelli pasta. This rice can be made with almost any type of rice you have, just adjust the water level and cooking time. I will show you how to make perfect fluffy Lebanese rice with step by step guide and a video.
To make Lebanese rice you will need:
- Rice: Basmati and short grain rice are the most common types used. Keep reading for what types not to use.
- Vermicelli pasta: broken into little pieces, you can find it in the pasta aisle in most grocery stores.
- Fat: to brown the vermicelli and cook the rice. I’ve always seen my mom using ghee for this type of rice. To make it vegan, use just olive oil. You can also use butter, I’ve used a mixture of olive oil and ghee.
- Seasonings: I only use salt.
- Water: you can also use stock for more flavor.
How to make Lebanese rice
- In a deep enough pot, melt ghee or butter in olive oil or heat olive oil if not using any butter or ghee. Add vermicelli noodles.
- Keep stirring the vermicelli until it gets dark brown as shown above.
- Add rice, no rinsing or soaking required, keep stirring for a couple of minutes until rice is well coated with fat. Stir in salt.
- Add water, just tap water and bring to a boil.
- When the water is fully boiling, this will take about 5 minutes, you will notice that the water level has reduced. Lower the heat, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 13-15 minutes.
- Take off heat and let it stand for 10 minutes to steam, uncover and fluff using a spatula not a fork.
No rinsing, no soaking
I know I am going to break a habit here but hear me out. I, like many of you, have been told by my mom to always rinse my rice. Almost all Lebanese rice recipes insist on rinsing the rice until water runs almost clear and then soaking it for 15 to 20 minutes until you hold a grain between your fingertips and be able to break it.
For me I might wait for 20 minutes to let a dough rise but to cook rice! Especially this rice which I cook almost a couple of times a week, I do not have such time. Plus if you keep washing rice for 3 or 4 times water will never be clear.
Back in the old days, washing rice was a must because we bought rice that needed picking and rinsing to make sure it is clean. With modern days mills, there is no need for that. So if you are buying these rice varieties in plastic bags from the stores, there is no need to rinse it believe me. Rinse only if you buy it loose from those big sacs found at spice and grains vendors.
Washing rice has little effect on fluffiness, retail rice is clean enough. Soaking rice for this recipe is unnecessary as well, we will add the right amount of water and let the rice do its thing.
Yet, if you must rinse and soak
I know it is a hard habit to break, so if you cannot resist rinsing, reduce water by 2 tablespoons per cup of rice. If you soaked your rice for 1 hour, reduce water by 3 Tablespoons/ one cup of rice.
What types of rice I can use to make Lebanese rice?
- Basmati rice, used here.
- Long, medium and short grain rice.
- Jasmine rice, reduce water by 1/4 cup for teach cup of rice.
- Brown rice, increase water by 1/2 cup for each cups of rice.
Do not use for: sushi rice, wild rice, black rice or any specialty rice.
Tips for making the perfect rice every time.
- Use a pot with a heavy fitting lid.
- Add salt to the rice before pouring in water. This helps the rice absorb salt evenly. Do not add salt after the rice is cooked, rice will be salty.
- You will need to stir the rice for a couple of minutes until you make sure rice is completely coated with fat. This helps with fluffiness.
- Use a rubber spatula to fluff the rice not a fork. This is a trick I have recently read.
- This rice freezes beautifully for about a month. When ready to use take it out, cover, and microwave for 2 minutes. You can also thaw it, then mix it with a little water in a pot and reheat on stovetop. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to a week in a clean container. Reheat the same way with a little water on the stovetop or for 1 minute in the microwave.
How to serve:
This rice is the perfect side for many Arabic dishes like this bamia stew, beef stew, and it is molokhia BFF. Make it with olive oil and serve with this lentil stew or these peas for a completer vegan meal.
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- 2 cups (390g) basmati rice., not rinsed. Note1
- 1 cup (100g) vermicelli pasta.
- 2 Tablespoons ghee. Note2
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
- 3/4 teaspoon salt or to your liking.
- 3 1/4 cup tap water. Note3
- In a medium pot over medium heat, add ghee and olive oil. Wait for ghee to melt.
- Add vermicelli pasta and keep stirring until it turns golden brown.
- Add rice and keep stirring until all rice granules well coated with fat.
- Add salt and mix then pour water over. Note4
- Bring the mixture to a full boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover and let it cook for 13-15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let it steam for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove cover, fluff with a spatula and do not use a fork. Note5
- Serve as a side with your favorite main dish.