This dish is a regular in Syrian and Lebanese homes, eaten alongside meat and vegetable dishes. The bronze, glistening vermicelli add another visual as well as textural dimension to the dish. These tiny vermicelli can be found in Middle-Eastern specialty stores. This dish is also lovely if eaten with a slathering of yoghurt. A Syrian lady taught me the 2:3 for rice:water ratio, which always seems to produce a light and fluffy grain. —shayma
oil (canola, sunflower or peanut)
vermicelli (can be found in Lebanese, Turkish, Syrian, Egyptian stores)
Wash the Basmati rice in water till the milky colour turns clear. Let the rice soak for minimum 30 minutes, preferably one hour.
Heat oil on medium heat in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pan. When the oil is hot, add the vermicelli and stir till they begin to change colour a bit, around 3 minutes.
Add the rice, hot water, salt. Cover pot with a tea towel and lid.
Turn the heat to low and allow the rice to cook for 18 minutes. (If you are using an electric burner, you could transfer the pot to a new burner- sometimes the coil takes too much time to cool down, burning the rice in the process).
Turn the heat off and let the rice rest for another 10 minutes. Decant with a wide-rimmed spatula or teacup saucer, to prevent the grains from breaking.
Shayma Saadat is a cookery teacher, food writer, stylist and photographer who focuses on the food of her heritage - Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, which she refers to as Silk Route cuisine. Shayma lives in Toronto with her husband and son. You can follow her culinary journey on Instagram @SpiceSpoon.