Easy, rustic Egyptian rice recipe as enjoyed by many in the land of the pyramids. It makes the perfect accompaniment to so many Middle Eastern and North African dishes.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Egyptian Rice with Vermicelli
This combination of rice and vermicelli isn’t confined to just Egypt. You’ll find variations of it all across the region. We have the more elaborate Persian version here on LinsFood, Reshteh Polo.
But today’s Egyptian rice with vermicelli recipe is a very simple affair, requiring only 5 or 6 ingredients. But let’s take a look at the name in Arabic first, shall we. Because many of you have told me that you enjoy the language fun almost as much as the recipes!
In Arabic, روز بالشعيرية = roz bel sha-i-riya (the pronunciation of the middle i (ع) is a little tricky for non Arabic speakers, as it’s a sound that’s formed in the back of the throat.
- roz = rice in Egyptian Arabic (aruzz in standard Arabic)
- shai’riya = vermicelli
- so the name basically means Rice with Vermicelli
How to cook Egyptian rice? It’s a very straightforward recipe, with only a few steps. This is what we’ll be doing:
- Rinse the rice.
- Break up the noodles if not using broken up ones.
- Brown the noodles.
- Add raisins (optional) and rice, along with the stock.
- Cook for 30 minutes. That’s it.
Ingredients for Egyptian Rice
Homegrown, Egyptian rice is medium grain. In many parts of the Middle East, it’s known as Egyptian rice or Mishri rice. In the US, you have a medium grain rice called Calrose. If you want to go down the medium grain route, then that’s what you can use. There are also a few other medium grain varieties, like the Turkish ones that will also do.
However, contrary to what you read online, risotto rice, whether, arborio or carnaroli, will not work when making this Egyptian rice recipe. It’s too starchy and will not give you that final grainy texture synonymous with an authentic Egyptian rice dish.
You might get away with it with paella rice, which has a similar texture and flavour to Egyptian rice.
So what should you use? Basmati is your best bet. When I don’t have any medium grain Egyptian rice in the pantry for cooking today’s recipe or Koshari, basmati works perfectly.
Should you soak your rice? Nope. You don’t need to soak medium grain rice. And most (all?) of the basmati sold in supermarkets in the West will not require soaking. If you soak it, you’ll find that your rice is falling apart when cooked. This is because it’s not been aged long enough, even if the packaging states aged basmati rice.
If you buy your basmati rice from South Asian stores, again, it depends on the brand. There’s aged, then there’s AGED. Get to know your rice, or ask the shop keeper.
When Middle Eastern recipes call for vermicelli noodles, they are talking about the ones used specifically in the recipes of the region. Not the Asian vermicelli made of rice or mung beans.
Vermicelli used in North African and Middle Eastern dishes is made of durum wheat, just like pasta. This is why any super thin pasta, like angel hair pasta, is perfect for this dish. You will find this vermicelli, sold all broken up in Middle Eastern and South Asian stores.
You’ll also find it on Amazon, here’s my affiliate link for it.
You may also find Italian broken pasta, like this capellini spezzati (the second word means broken). Click here to get it on Amazon, availability will depend on where you are.
I tend to use the Persian variety, as I always have some at home. They are called reshteh in Farsi, and I talk about them in our Persian recipe, Reshteh Polo. You can find them plain or already fried. If you do have access to these, use the unfried ones, as we want to fry them ourselves, for the flavour. This is what they look like.
Ghee to Cook Egyptian Rice
Ghee, as you’ll know, is clarified butter. The Egyptian version is called samna baladi, which can be translated as traditional ghee or fat. It’s made from water buffalo milk and is almost white in colour.
I use regular South Asian ghee, which works beautifully in this Egyptian rice recipe. You can use butter, if you like, or even extra virgin olive or vegetable oil.
How to Serve Egyptian Rice with Vermicelli
As you would serve any plain (or semi plain) rice dish. One of the most traditional Egyptian dishes that this rice is served with is kabab halla, a recipe I made some months ago. Besides that, any Persian stews, Moroccan tagines or South Asian curries will work perfectly. See below for a few examples.
You’ll fine more in the Collections I have in the Menu, right at the top of this page.
Can Egyptian Rice be Reheated?
Absolutely. Any leftover can be kept in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 days. Then, if you have a microwave oven, that’s the best way to reheat it, adding a tablespoon of water. Depending on how much you’re heating up, it can take anything from 2 – 5 minutes. Stir halfway through and make sure it’s piping hot when you think it’s done. You should see lots of steam coming off it.
Otherwise, heat it up on the stove, with 4 tablespoons of water on very low heat for 15 minutes until it’s steaming.
And that’s it. Shall we get our aprons on?
If you enjoy the recipe, drop me a comment and let me know. And if you are feeling like a star, don’t forget that 5-star rating!
If you make this recipe, post it on Instagram and tag me @azlinbloor.
Egyptian Rice with Vermicelli Recipe (Roz bel Shai’riya)
- 400 g white Basmati rice see article
- 60 g wheat vermicelli see article
- 30 g raisins optional
- 3 Tbsp ghee or butter or EV olive oil or vegetable oil
- 750 ml vegetable stock (chicken stock works too) made with 1 cube or stockpot
- 2 Tbsp chopped nuts of your choice pistachio slivers, almond slivers or pine nuts work well
- Rinse the rice 2-3 times until the water runs clear-ish. No need to soak, unless your basmati is a really aged one, bought from a South Asian store. Read article above. Drain, and set aside.
- If you’re using long vermicelli like me, break them up into small pieces. How short is a matter of preference. I like mine fairly long, as you can see in the images. About 5cm/2 inches long (or slightly less) is pretty traditional.
- Heat the ghee (or whatever fat you’re using) in a saucepan on medium heat. Fry the vermicelli for 2-3 minutes until they are a light golden brown. The aroma will be amazing at this point. If you’re using thinner and shorter strands, you’ll only need 2 minutes. Mine take about 3 minutes.
- Add the raisins and fry for 30 seconds to coat them with the fat.
- Tip in the rice and fry for 1 minute, mixing well.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil on high heat. Then cover with a tea towel lined lid (see video), reduce heat right down, and cook for 30 minutes.
- When done, move it to a cool hob and leave to rest for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
- Serve it garnish with your chosen nuts. Kabab Halla is a very traditional accompaniment for this Egyptian rice.