Fluffy, fragrant rice pilaf with crunchy nuts and mildly sweet dried fruit. A great side dish for the holidays and gatherings. Mediterranean rice pilaf is lightly spiced and perfectly seasoned. A meal on its own.
This rice is the king of rice throughout the region. It is there in wedding parties, holidays and any gatherings for the matter. A great side for your turkey or rib roast. This epic golden rice will make everything tastes better.
Next time try this flavorful Middle Eastern yellow rice.
❤️ Why You'll Love It
This rice pilaf is loaded with spices, nuts, and dried fruits to celebrate almost any occasion. It has earthy flavors and aroma that will melt your heart. A comfort food by all means.
Rice is a staple in the region, it is eaten in great quantities especially at dinner. When I was growing up we only had two kinds of rice, short grain and Basmati. Later on, many other sorts were introduced in the market.
Note: This is an overview of the instructions. The detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- In a pot over medium heat, caramelize sugar. Add onion and spices and mix well for a minute.
- Now add the rice and ghee. Mix everything well and keep stirring for like two minutes or so.
- Pour the cooking liquid and add the tomato paste mixing well to dissolve the paste. Season with salt and cook.
- Now in a skillet over medium heat, roast nuts in ghee/ butter or oil. Remove from heat and mix in the dried fruits.
💡 Expert Tips
- Keep a close eye on your pan when caramelizing sugar as it can burn easily.
- Do not panic if part of the caramelized sugar gets stuck to the bottom of the pan, this will all come off when we add the cooking liquid.
- You can make this pilaf in your rice cooker from A-Z. I've tried it before and I like it as you do not need to check for doneness especially if you are using a new kind of rice. Most rice cookers has saute options. So I made all the first steps on that setting then after adding the rice switch to white rice setting.
🍽️ Serve With
- Some people saute garlic with onions, I'm not used to adding garlic to this rice so I did not.
- You can definitely use any sorts of nuts/dried fruits you like. Traditionally though, almonds and raisins are used. Here I've used pistachios and dry apricot for color as well. I also like the use of dry cranberry more than raisins but I just wanted to show you a more traditional dish.
- Make it vegan and use olive oil or vegetable oil instead of ghee and substitute water or vegetable broth for chicken broth.
- Leftover rice can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
- Reheat cooked rice on the stove with a splash of water or for a minute or two in the microwave.
For this rice pilaf, you can use any kind you like. My mom used to make it with short grain Egyptian rice as this one was the most available back in the days. Later she started making it with Basmati rice. I liked using jasmine rice for its light scent, but as I said you can use whatever you like.
Traditionally ghee is used and that's what I've used here to show you the recipe. You can use butter instead of canola oil for a completely vegan recipe. I like canola oil better here as an alternative for vegans as it has a neutral flavor and does not conflict with the other flavors in the rice.
📣 Related Recipes
- Try this delicious and easy to follow Lebanese rice recipe, perfect side dish for any Middle Eastern meal. Garnish with fresh herbs or toasted pine nuts to boost flavors.
- Nothing's better than a dish you can make in one pot, this creamy baked chicken and rice falls into that categoy. Rich, lightly seasoned with super tender chicken you'll want to lick the pot and the spoon!
- Chicken Kabsa is a fragrant rice with tender chicken from Saudi Arabia.
- Chicken and yellow rice is an easy and tasty meal, great for a weeknight dinner.
- There's nothing more comforting than a warm, richly flavored Middle Eastern rice with chicken. This recipe includes aromatic spices, vegetables and tender fall of the bone chicken.
Mediterranean Side Dishes
- Farro Pilaf Recipe with Italian sausage and mushroom is a simple wholesome pilaf recipe. A hearty dinner recipe or a side dish for your holiday table.
- These stuffed grape leaves are delicious and easy to prepare. They're perfect for parties or as an appetizer.
- Mujadara is a traditional Middle Eastern vegan dish very popular in the Levant area. The combination of rice, lentils and caramelized onion is nothing short of heaven. So flavorful and comforting.
More Rice Recipes
- This comforting side dish of Mushroom and Rice Bake has a fluffy texture and earthy flavor. A warming, satisfying, and delicious meatless lunch, or pair it with the protein of choice for a delightful dinner.
- Roasted rice with nuts and raisins, a festive Middle Eastern rice pilaf.
- Turmeric rice is a fragrant and fluffy rice recipe popular throughout the Mediterranean countries. Basmati rice cooked with turmeric and other aromatic spices for a festive side dish.
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- 5-quart non stick pot.
- Or you can use this Aroma rice cooker is my friend, I use it almost daily to cook different kinds of rice. Of course I can cook rice on stove top, but being a mom of 3 plus running a business, I like the set and forget kind of cooking. of course you can get one for a couple of hundreds more but seriously this one is so good especially for the price. That's why this rice cooker is really dear to my heart.
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Mediterranean Rice Pilaf
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar.
- 1 cup onion diced.
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- A dash of ground cloves.
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste.
- 1 ½ cups jasmine rice
- 1 ½ Tablespoons ghee.
- 2 ¼ cup water or chicken stock.
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste.
For the nut mixture:
- 1 Tablespoons ghee or butter.
- ½ cup raisins.
- ¼ cup dried apricot sliced.
- ¼ cup pistachios.
- ½ cup almonds.
- In a small bowl, soak raisins in some hot water for 15-20 minutes.
- In a pan over medium heat, add sugar and keep stirring until it caramelizes and turns amber color.
- Add diced onion and keep stirring for about 1 minutes.
- Add cinnamon, black pepper and ground cloves, stirring together.
- Add rice salt and ghee, stir everything well together.
- Pour in liquid then add tomato paste, stir well to dissolve.
- Bring to a boil uncovered.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.
Toast the nuts:
- In a skillet melt ghee, add pistachios and almonds stir for 2-3 minutes until lightly toasted, turn heat off.
- Drain raisins and add to the hot skillet along with the dried apricot and toss everything together.
- Serve rice on a platter garnished with nut mixture and chopped parsley if desired.
- You can use any type of rice you like Basmati, short grain, brown just adjust the cooking liquid accordingly.
- You can use any type of stock or even water. In fact I like this recipe more with water.
- Do not freak out if the caramelize sugar sticks to the pan it will all come off when we add liquids.
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First published Dec 7, 2018 . Last updated September 25, 2023 with important tips, clear step by step instructions and readability.