Finishing out our week of Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean inspired food is this wonderful Lebanese rice, which came to me from Comptoir Libanais via my sister-in-law. Thank you Su!
It can be made very successfully with olive oil in place of butter, but I love the nutty flavour you get from the browned butter so that’s what I recommend below.
Serves: 6-8 as a side with other dishes. If you’re only making half that amount I would still suggest using 30g-40g of butter as you want enough to fry the vermicelli in.
- 200g Basmati rice
- 50g vermicelli pasta
- 50g butter
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
- pinch of salt
- 500ml boiling water
Start by rinsing your rice. I do this by placing the rice in a small mixing bowl and filling it with water. Give it a stir with your fingers, then leave it to sit for a minute or two while you get on with other things. Drain it through a sieve to get rid of the starchy water, then return it to the bowl and repeat the whole process two or three more times. Leave the rice to drain in the sieve while you get on with the next bit.
Crush the vermicelli between your hands (it’s a wonderful stress reliever). You are aiming for most of the pieces to be 1-2cm long. In a medium saucepan with a reasonably tight-fitting lid, melt the butter over a medium-high heat. When the butter is mostly melted, add the vermicelli and cumin seeds (if using). Fry the vermicelli until it’s quite a dark brown (see below), stirring to make sure it’s browning evenly and not burning.
Add the rice and salt, and stir for another minute to combine everything. Add the boiling water and stir again. Wait a moment for the water to start bubbling (you don’t need it to be totally boiling), then put on the lid and reduce to a very low heat. Leave to cook for approx 15 minutes. To test if it’s ready, use a spoon or spatula to pull the rice away from the side of the pan. There should be no water left, and the rice should be slightly stuck to the base of the pan. Remove from the heat and leave to rest with the lid on for at least 5 minutes. It will stay hot kept like this for half an hour or more if you are waiting for other dishes. Move the rice to a serving dish, and try not to eat it all on the way to the table.