Lebanese Vermicelli Rice is a simple three-ingredient Middle Eastern staple that is made with vermicelli pasta, and basmati rice and is cooked in butter or olive oil.
Living in the Middle East for the past five years, I’ve been able to discover a lot of delicious Middle Eastern recipes, and this delicious Arabic rice dish is one of my favorites. I first discovered it at a Turkish restaurant, and it was instant love at first taste.
What is Lebanese Vermicelli Rice?
Lebanese Rice Pilaf (aka Middle Eastern Rice or Arabic Rice) is a Middle Eastern staple that’s commonly served with main dishes. It only requires three ingredients: butter or olive oil, rice, and vermicelli noodles. It’s got a subtle, nutty taste and goes well with meat dishes and stews.
What is Vermicelli Pasta and How Do You Cook it?
Vermicelli is a type of thin pasta (thinner than spaghetti) and is made from flour. It’s usually used in desserts in India and Pakistan, such as seviyan. However, Vermicelli is like regular pasta so it’s not sweet and can be used in savory dishes such as this Lebanese Rice Pilaf recipe.
This Lebanese style rice is so easy and delicious that it’s quickly become a staple in our home and I often make it with other Middle Eastern recipes such as Shish Taouk.
What You'll Need
- Vermicelli Pasta: This is easily available in the pasta section in the grocery store. I got one that's small, but there's a longer variety too. It needs to be broken into smaller pieces before being used in this recipe.
- Rice: I recommend using good-quality basmati rice for this recipe, as that is what's traditionally used in this recipe. Additionally, it doesn't become easily sticky if you use the right water-to-rice ratio. I would not recommend short-grain rice like jasmine rice for this recipe.
- Butter: We will toast the vermicelli in melted butter until it is golden brown and nutty.
- Water and salt
How Do You Make Lebanese Rice?
1.) Start by rinsing the basmati rice under cold water 3-4 times to get rid of excess starch. Soak for 20 minutes.
2.) In a large pot, melt the butter or olive oil (ghee can be used as well) and fry the vermicelli pasta on medium heat until it’s a deep golden brown. Be careful not to burn the vermicelli as it can go from golden to burnt quickly.
3.) Add the rice and saute for a minute or so (also add the salt), and then add water. The perfect ratio for cooking rice is 1:2. So if you’re using 1 cup of rice, you’ll need to add 2 cups of water to cook this Middle Eastern Lebanese rice perfectly. In this recipe since we are using 1 1/2 cups of rice we will need 3 cups of water.
4.) After adding the water, wait for it to come to a boil and let the water evaporate until there’s barely any left. Lower the heat of the stove and cover the pot. The rice will cook in the steam.
5.) After 5-7 minutes, remove from heat and take off the lid. Fluff up the rice with a fork. Top with chopped parsley and pine nuts.
6.) Serve with your favourite Middle Eastern main, like the Chicken Shish Tawook pictured above. Or even pair it with a delicious seafood recipe like this Lemon Garlic Butter Salmon, the flavors will compliment the pilaf really well!
- Be careful while toasting the vermicelli. It can easily go from a golden brown to burn, so keep an eye on it. If it does burn, you will have to discard it and start over.
- Washing the rice is a crucial step as it gets rid of excess starch and the rice grains won't stick together when cooked.
- Instead of butter, you can also use ghee or olive oil. I love using butter for its flavor.
More Rice Dishes to Enjoy
Lebanese Rice Pilaf with Vermicelli
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup broken vermicelli pasta
- 1 1/2 cups long grain rice I used basmati rice
- 3 cups water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- In a large pot, melt the butter and add the vermicelli pasta until it is golden brown. Vermicelli pasta goes very quickly from golden brown to being burnt. Refer to the pictures to see the exact golden brown colour we are aiming for.
- Add the rice, and stir it so that it toasts for a few moments (about 30 seconds).
- Then add the water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and let the water boil until there is little to no water left. See pictures below.
- Reduce heat to the lowest and cover.
- Cook for about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and run a fork through the rice to fluff it up.
- Garnish with pine nuts and slivered pistachios before serving.