Egyptian rice is a classic rice dish made across the middle east, using medium grain rice. It's cooked with vermicelli noodles, oil or butter, and broth for a very flavourful final dish. If you struggle to cook perfect medium grain rice, then this recipe is for you!
What is Egyptian Rice?
Egyptian rice is medium grain rice that is made across Egypt and the middle east. It is traditionally cooked with vermicelli noodles and served alongside traditional middle eastern stews like molokhia, okra stew, and fasolia.
In Arabic, Egyptian rice is called "Roz Masri".
Because Egyptian rice is medium grain, it is cooked slightly differently than long grain basmati rice, as I explain in this rice post. Medium grain rice requires less water than long grain rice, otherwise it is at risk of getting mushy!
Authentic Egyptian rice is also cooked with plenty of fat like butter or ghee, as well as using chicken broth to give it a lot of flavour. The addition of fat to the rice actually helps prevent it from becoming sticky as well. This medium grain rice recipe also serves as the base for Egyptian Koshari, a dish made of lentils, rice, pasta, and chickpeas.
In other Middle Eastern countries, using long grain basmati rice is more prevalent than short grain rice. If you prefer basmati rice, try this vermicelli rice recipe made with long grain rice.
Middle Eastern Vermicelli Noodles
Egyptian rice is always made with vermicelli noodles. But ensure you use the right type of noodle. In the west, rice noodles are commonly termed "vermicelli noodles", which is the wrong type.
Vermicelli noodles used in the middle east, as pictured below, are very fine wheat noodles or pasta, typically sold broken up into ½ inch pieces. If you don't have any, you can use any fine pasta, such as angel hair pasta. Break it up into fine pieces and use as directed.
Ingredient's You'll Need to Make this Recipe
The ingredients for Egyptian rice are straight forward. The most important part of this recipe are the quantities of each ingredient. You'll need:
- Medium grain Egyptian rice. This is sold at Middle Eastern stores, or simply buy Calrose rice, commonly found at supermarkets. I would avoid using short grain rice to ensure you get fluffy results.
- Vermicelli noodles, as pictured here. If you don't have any, feel free to use any fine pasta like angel hair pasta. Break it up into small pieces. Find it at Middle Eastern stores or supermarkets.
- Vegetable oil, or ghee. I typically use avocado oil for this recipe.
- Chicken broth, or vegetable broth if you'd like to make this vegetarian. If you don't have any broth, you can replace with water. But broth yields more flavourful rice.
- Salt. It's very important to ensure the rice is seasoned well.
How To Make This Recipe, Step by Step
You will need a total of 1 hour to make Egyptian rice from start to finish. It's a very simple process, so let's walk through it.
First, wash the Egyptian rice really well until the water starts to run clear. Then, soak the rice for 30 minutes. Then, drain and set aside.
I've tested this rice with no soaking, with a 15 minute soak, and with a 30 minute soak. The 30 minutes works the best for extra fluffy grains!
TIP: Do not skip the soaking step! Medium grain rice should be soaked to ensure the rice cooks to the correct softness without getting too mushy.
After 30 minutes, start by heating the oil in a rice pot over the stove. Then, add the vermicelli noodles.
Stir them around until they turn a golden brown colour. Make sure you keep stirring for a few minutes and don't leave them alone. They tend to burn really fast.
Once the vermicelli noodles are golden, add the drained rice. Stir the rice and noodles together for a few minutes to toast the rice. Do this gently to avoid breaking any rice grains.
Next, add the broth and the salt. Stir to combine and allow it to come to a boil on medium heat.
TIP: Make sure you taste the broth after you add the salt. It should taste visibly salty. If not, add more salt to ensure the rice will be seasoned well.
Once you see bubbles to indicate that the rice is boiling, cover it with a tight fitting lid and decrease the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes undisturbed.
After 20 minutes, turn off the heat. Fluff it with a fork, then allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
How to Troubleshoot Your Rice
Rice can be tricky to cook. Following this recipe exactly will yield excellent results. But I know that sometimes you may encounter a few bumps. Here's how to troubleshoot your rice depending on the situation:
- My rice is not cooked enough. If you taste the rice after cooking and the grains still feel a bit firm, you can take roughly ½ cup of water and splash it over the rice, then cover the lid and allow it to steam an additional 10 minutes on very low heat. Check it again and repeat as needed.
- My rice is too mushy! You have either soaked the rice for too long, or you used too much water. Unfortunately it's hard to recover mushy rice. Make sure you measure precisely next time!
- My rice is under seasoned. This means that you did not add enough salt to the rice and broth. You can take ½ cup of hot boiling water, add a bit of salt and dissolve it. Then splash it over your rice, mix, and steam for 10 minutes on low heat. This usually helps to rectify under seasoned rice. But now you know to season it more next time!
What to Serve with Egyptian Rice
Egyptian rice is a staple side dish with every middle eastern stew. Here are a few popular stews I highly recommend you try with this rice:
- Fasolia yabsa which is a white bean or cannellini bean stew. It's hearty, simple, and flavourful!
- Okra stew, also called Bamya in Arabic, is a classic okra and lamb stew, cooked in a tomato and garlic broth. So good!
- Molokhia, which is a classic stew served across the middle east, made with Jute mallow. It's cooked in a flavourful chicken broth.
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Fluffy Egyptian Rice (Medium Grain Rice)
- 2 cups Egyptian rice medium grain, also sub Calrose rice
- ½ cup vermicelli noodles pasta noodles not rice noodles
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth substitute water
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- Rinse rice in a bowl of water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes
- Heat up the oil over medium heat in a non-stick rice pot
- Add the vermicelli noodles and cook them while continuing to stir until the noodles turns golden brown, about 4-5 minutes
- Drain the rice and add it to the pot, continue to stir the rice in with the noodles for a few minutes
- Add the salt and the broth and mix well a few times
- Bring mixture to a boil before covering with a paper towel and a tight fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes undisturbed
- Remove lid and paper towel, fluff rice with a fork, cover with a lid and let it rest 10 more minutes before serving
- If you can't find Egyptian rice, use Calrose rice or any other brand of rice that is medium grain
- I recommend using chicken or vegetable broth instead of water for more flavour
- It's important to soak the rice for 30 minutes. If you skip this step, the rice will not be soft enough, and cooking it longer will make it mushy
- Make sure that you taste the broth after seasoning with salt to ensure it is visibly salty