Buttery Rice with Toasted Vermicelli (Ruz Bil Sh’arieh)

The combination of rice and pasta in this store cupboard recipe makes for an addictively fluffy texture.

From the book

Falastin: A Cookbook by &
Falastin: A Cookbook
A love letter to Palestinian food and culture from the Ottolenghi co-authors..
With a mix of traditional and modern recipes for everything from one-pots to perfumed sweet treats.
With beautiful photography and stories from unheard Palestinian voices.


There’s an old wives’ tale that a woman used to add pasta to rice only if she was an unconfident cook or couldn’t cook rice properly. The theory was that adding pasta was a guaranteed way to prevent the rice from sticking together. True or otherwise, it’s a guaranteed way to get it seriously fluffy and it’s a good few steps up from regular steamed rice. The pasta brings texture, the butter brings comfort and the cinnamon brings a hint of spice.

Ingredients note: Don’t get the flat Asian rice noodles here: you want the Italian wheat vermicelli nests. They are like spaghetti, but thinner. Regular spaghetti makes a fine alternative.

Serves 4 as a side


300g basmati rice
35g unsalted butter
1 cinnamon stick
50g vermicelli wheat noodles or spaghetti, as an alternative, roughly broken into 3cm pieces
520ml hot water or hot chicken stock (optional)
salt and black pepper


Place the rice in a bowl and allow tap water to run over it until the water is clear. Set aside to soak for at least an hour (or overnight, if you are getting ahead). Transfer the soaked rice to a sieve placed over a bowl and leave to drain for about 15 minutes.

Put 25g of butter and the cinnamon into a medium saucepan, for which you have a lid, and place on a medium-high heat. Add the vermicelli or spaghetti and cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously, until deeply golden. Mix in the rice for about 30 seconds, then add the water (or stock), along with 1½ teaspoons of salt (or slightly less – about 1 teaspoon – if using stock and it is salty) and a good grind of black pepper. Cover the pan tightly with foil and put the lid on top of this. Reduce the heat to low and leave to cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes, covered, to steam.

Remove the lid and foil and dot with the remaining 10g of butter. Set aside for another 10 minutes, covered with the foil and lid, or just the lid, before serving.

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