vermicelli rice (roz bil shaghrieh)

vermicelli rice
(roz bil shaghrieh)

I am always interested in new ways of cooking the everyday basics. Adding crushed vermicelli pasta to rice while it is cooking is traditional in the middle east, particularly Egypt and Lebanon. I discovered that it also adds a lovely nutty taste to the rice and a rather interesting soft texture.

This is Claudia Roden's recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks, Arabesque: A taste of Morocco, Turkey + Lebanon.

I have added red lentils, largely because I like the texture of them with rice, something I learned from eating the Indian dish, khichá¹›i. I lobbed in an onion and a clove of garlic too for good measure!

Vermicelli are very fine noodles, which can be bought ready-cut from Turkish or Middle Eastern grocers. Alternatively buy vermicelli nests and crush them yourself into lengths of about two centimetres.

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy

1 x onion, finely chopped
1 x garlic clove, very finely chopped
300ml basmati (or other long grain) rice
150ml red lentils
100g vermicelli
25g butter
650ml water


  1. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and dry fry the vermicelli until lightly browned. (Stir often, as they brown quickly).
  2. You can wash the rice in cold water, although I don't usually bother. If you do, rinse in a sieve under a cold tap then set aside to drain.
  3. Heat a little oil and the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Gently fry for 10 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and continue to fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Tip in the rice and lentils. Stir well to ensure that all the rice and lentils are well mixed in with the buttery onions.
  5. Add the water and another pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, add the toasted vermicelli and stir well. Put the lid on the saucepan and reduce the heat to its lowest temperature. Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat. Stir and set aside for 5 minutes before serving.


  • Delicious served with spiced lamb meatballs or a tomato and vegetable sauce.
  • Stuff vegetables such as peppers or courgettes with this rice mix.
  • The secret to good rice is to measure by volume rather than weight, so measure out both rice and water using a cup or measuring jug. I usually cook rice in the proportion of one part rice to one part water - 1:1 or 1:1¼.


Anonymous said...

We had this tonight with your ras el hanout lamb tagine and o cozinheiro este algarve's Tunisian carrots.
Oh my goodness!


Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Aw Fran, thank you so much :) Sounds like a winning combination though and actually quite a good reminder for me - I need to make some lamb tagine again!

Anonymous said...

We usually buy lamb for this sort of thing from our butcher already diced but today we bought a shoulder and cut it up ourselves. (Actually, my beloved cut it up while I was making oxtail soup.)
The difference in price was astonishing. I know the bone takes up a bit of the weight, but even so! Shankside shoulder £5.50 p/kg and diced lamb £12.50 p/kg.
No going back.