Mideastweb: Middle East

Syrian Rice Recipes

Rice is a staple food in Asia, and a base of many Middle Eastern dishes. "Syrian Rice" is the name given to a number of rice and rice-pasta based dishes that usually include chicken broth.

Shireeah - Syrian Rice Pilaf with Garbanzo Beans

A friend sends this recipe:

1 cup fine pasta (spaghettinivermicelli, angel hair pasta or other thin pasta), broken into 3/4" (about 2 C)  pieces.

Sautee in 4 tablespoons of  butter until dark brown

1/2 cup of rice

1 quarter cup chicken broth

Bring broth to boil and add rice. Cook for 12 minutes then add pasta  (and remaining butter, if any) and cook for 5 minutes;

Add 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained. Cook for 3-4 minutes more.

Let stand for 10 minutes, then serve

Syrian Rice with meat and pine nuts

Syrian Allspice


4 cups long grain rice

0.5 Kilo (1 lb)butter

1 kg (about 2 lb) ground meat

200 grams (about 1/2 lb.) pine nuts

0.5 Kg (about a pound) chicken necks & backs (to boil for broth)

Additional chicken broth if needed.

Boil the chicken necks and backs to make about 8 cups of chicken broth. Strain the broth until it is clear. If the broth is not sufficient, you can use the extra broth to make up the difference.

Cook the 2 pounds hamburger on top of stove at the same time. Sautee the pine nuts carefully:  melt butter on a low flame in a frying pan, and then add pine nuts, stirring the nuts often so they don't burn, until they are light brown. Remove from heat and let them cool.

Bring the broth to a boil. Pour the 4 cups of rice into the broth and stir just once to make sure it is mixed. When the rice is almost done (about 3/4), add the butter and pine nuts to the rice and mix thoroughly. Add Syrian allspice and salt to taste. 

Syrian Rice - Fried

1 cup. vermicelli pasta

1 cup rice

About 100 grams (or 1 stick) of butter

3 cups of water

1 bouillon cube of chicken broth


Place the butter in a pot over low to medium heat. Crush the vermicelli with your hands into small pieces (about 1 cm), and brown it in the butter until it is completely brown. Place the rice in mixture and mix until the rice is coated completely. Add water and salt (to taste) and the bouillon.

 Cover and bring to boil. Reduce to medium heat for 10 minutes, the reduce to low heat for the next 10 minutes. Water should be evaporated. Close the flame but keep it on the burner so mixture will be steamed.

Syrian Rice with Orzo

"Orzo" is really barley, but in the United States it is also the name of a commercial product - a pasta that is about the size of rice grains, or "mock rice."

1 cup rice

1/4 cup Orzo

2 tbsp. butter

2 cups water or chicken broth

Brown the Orzo in butter. Add rice and salt, mix together. Add water, bring to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

More Middle East Recipes

About Middle Eastern Cooking and Recipes

Middle Eastern cuisine is a refined art.  It is influenced by dozens of cultures, and its spicy dishes reflect the fact that the Middle East was either the source or the way station for spices that came to Europe from all over Asia. Lamb, rice and various legumes (especially lentils and chickpeas)  are staples of main course dishes. Many dishes use burghul (cracked wheat or smead) in salads and chopped meat combinations.  Middle East foods include lots of salads made from both fresh vegetables in season, and cooked or pickled vegetables, and fruit in quantities.

Middle Eastern food is healthy - the famous Mediterranean diet seems to promote healthy hearts and digestive systems. Olive oil is the healthy and tasty "universal solvent" of Middle Eastern cuisine.  Small green olives, hot green peppers and pickled or fried eggplant are served as side dishes along with dips such as tahini (made from sesame seed oil) and Humus (chickpeas and tahineh). Za'atar is a spice that grows wild in Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. It is similar to oregano - but it is not oregano. Za'atar is the basis of a spice mix that is also called za'atar and contains za'atar, salt, tanning spices and other ingredients. Za'atar may be sprinkled on dishes such as humus or labani (labaneh). 


Middle Eastern foods are usually eaten with (or in) pita bread. A pita is a flatish bread (it is the origin of the Italian word "Pizza") originally baked in a simple oven. Pita can be slightly risen and the size of a small platter. That kind of pita can be opened inside to form a pocket for salad or meat or falafel. Pita can also be baked in long flat sheets (Iraqi Pita). Salads and dips can be rolled up inside. Pita can also be baked with onions, Za'atar etc. on top. Ijjeh is a kind of fast food made by baking an egg mix on top of a pita.

Middle Eastern cuisine was spread through parts of Europe that were ruled by the Ottoman Empire, including Greece, Cyprus, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Rumania, where lamb pilaf, okrah, kebab, eggplant and other dishes are popular in their local variants.

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If you have good recipes or serving suggestions - please send them to us!

Thanks are due to Melissa Fayyed and Rami Neudorfer and others who contributed recipes.

Sahten! - Bete'avon! (Hearty Appetite)

Ami Isseroff

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Middle East Recipes