This Arabic rice with Vermicelli needs no introduction. Or maybe it does if you're unfamiliar with Middle Eastern food. It's basically the side that is served with most Arabic dishes, including various types of stews and meats. It's so easy to make, only needs a three main ingredients, and it's addictive. I actually don't make vermicelli rice often because I cant. stop. eating. it. But isn't that true about most rice dishes?!
What is Vermicelli rice?
So in most Middle Eastern counties, you won't find just plain rice being served. You'll often find Arabic rice mixed with vermicelli noodles. The noodles are not the thin white Asian rice noodles. It actually looks more like thin yellow pasta broken up into small pieces like here (affiliate link). You can find it at a much cheaper price in your local middle eastern grocery store, but it's also available online.
Using the Vermicelli noodles adds such a nice nuttiness to the rice. We also use some vegetable oil and salt. I love throwing in a chicken stock cube as well, I find it really adds so much flavour. But it's optional.
Sometimes, all I am craving is a plate of this rice alongside a simple chopped Arabic salad, and I'm very happy.
My tips for making the best Arabic rice
- Use long grain rice as it's much more forgiving when it comes to the water ratio than medium or short grain rice. Basically, it's hard to mess up long grain rice (unless you're my husband).
- Rinse the rice several times until the water runs clear. This step helps get rid of any extra starch so the rice grains can cook and separate well instead of mush together.
- Toast the vermicelli noodles until they turn a golden brown colour and be sure to stir it constantly as it burns easily.
- Add the rice and coat it with the oil as well, to help the rice grains stay separate
- Use chicken stock to add even more flavour. I love doing this and I learned it from my mom. You can also use vegetable stock, but water is fine too if you want to skip it.
- Leave the rice alone for 20 minutes covered on low heat. Don't try to peek at it, don't try to open the lid. Just let it be. Otherwise a lot of steam will escape and really compromise your perfect rice!
What do you serve this rice with?
This Arabic rice is always served alongside Middle Eastern stews, like this Fasolia. We also serve it with other common dishes such as this shawarma plate, eggplant casserole, kafta, and roasted chicken, and its almost always accompanied for a simple Arabic chopped salad.
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Arabic Rice with Vermicelli
- 1 cup vermicelli noodles
- 3 cups long grain rice basmati preferred
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 chicken stock cube optional, can replace with vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 cups water
- Start by washing the rice several times until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
- In a non-stick pot, heat the vegetable oil on medium heat. Then add the vermicelli noodles and cook until golden brown. Ensure you stir constantly as they tend to burn quickly. This should take 5-7 minutes
- Once they are a golden brown, add the drained rice, the salt, and the stock cube. Stir together for for a few minutes so the rice grains are coated in the oil
- Add the water, mix well, and allow it to come to a boil for a few minutes.
- Once it starts to boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Leave it undisturbed for 20 minutes
- Once 20 minutes is up, turn off the heat and keep the pot covered for another 5 minutes
- Fluff with a fork and serve with some fresh parsley and toasted nuts if desired
- The water ratio specified in this recipe is for long grain rice. For medium or short grain rice, use slightly less water. Long grain rice is the most forgiving, so I recommend using it
- The chicken stock is completely optional but it takes the flavour to another level