Perfect Rice with Toasted Vermicelli an important side dish

When it comes to rice whether plain white or rice with vermicelli رز بالشعرية, it is considered a very important side dish within the Palestinian cuisine. We have numerous stews, meat and vegetable dishes and they all are primarily served with a side of rice. I guess that also can be the case with some other cultures, such as Chinese or Persian dishes …etc. However, how Palestinian rice is cooked or how it should turn out differs from Chinese or Persian rice per se.

The Palestinian rice has to be cooked well enough that the rice is fully cooked. Fluffy but not sticky which may be a preference for Chinese rice. Also not burnt which is popular in Persian cuisine. Interesting how different cultures perceive cooked rice. The two latest can be considered bad rice from a Palestinian perspective.

For anyone who grew up in Palestine, making just the perfect rice is a big deal. If the rice is not made for the standards mentioned above, silly but true that one is judged for not being a good cook. I know my mother would always brag about her rice. “Each tiny rice is exactly the same size as the other” she would claim. A popular saying for rice I guess (kol habeh wi oukhtha).

I may be biased to my mother’s rice, but I have to agree she makes the best rice ever. As good as I am at making rice when I visit home, I just love to eat her rice especially right after it’s cooked. I love to squeeze some lemon, sprinkle salt and a drizzle of olive oil over a small bowl of rice, and just enjoy it like that. My mother is still my hero not only in making food but also rice.

Peppering Rice

The photos above and below are how rice looks before and after soaking for 15 minutes

If you are one of those who is having a hard time perfecting your rice. I’m here to share with you the easiest and simplest way to do it, and also which kind of rice to use. We grew up using Egyptian rice with most of our dishes.

That was another thing that I was challenged with when I first moved here, which rice I can use that is close to Egyptian rice. I know some grocery stores carry Egyptian rice at the moment but it’s not available everywhere. So here are my recommendations for which type of rice I use.

Pick any short-grain white rice or Cal-rose rice, two types that I easily find in most places. The trick is actually to soak the rice for about 15 minutes prior to cooking. That will help tremendously in making the rice fluffy, fully cooked and not sticky.

Meanwhile, in a cooking pot heat oil or butter, add vermicelli and continually steer to toast it evenly until vermicelli turn golden brown. Watch carefully not to over-brown or burn it. Vermicelli is very thin and gets toasted quickly, so keep an eye on it with continual steering, this should take 3-4 minutes only.

Rinse rice from water and add it over the pot, add salt and continue to stir so it will be well-coated with the oil and vermicelli. Now add boiled water, once it starts boiling cover the pot and turns the heat on low. Let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Makes 2 servings

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Perfect Rice with Toasted Vermicelli an important side dish

  • Author: Wafa Shami


  • 1 cup short-grain white rice or Cal Rose
  • 1 tablespoon oil (butter or any oil)
  • 1/3 cup vermicelli
  • 1 cup of boiled water
  • salt


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