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Arabic Style Vermicelli Rice

posted on: Apr 24, 2019

By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer

There is special Arab style rice that goes with everything, an all-around favorite dish for even the pickiest eaters. Vermicelli rice, also knowns as “Sha’reeya” rice in Arabic, is popular throughout the Levant, from Lebanon and Palestine to Syria and Jordan. Thin vermicelli noodles are broken then sauteed in olive oil and butter until they are golden brown, which adds a buttery and nutty flavor to the rice. This is a foundational grain dish meant to go with all of the Arabic stews and kebabs. However many find this rice so delicious they eat it plain, or even with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar as a dessert.

A similar variation of this rice called Fideo is also very popular in Mexico. There is speculation that the migration of this dish must have come to Mexico with the Spanish, who had enormous influence from the Moors that occupied Spain.   Both the Arab and Mexican methods use broken up dried noodles toasted in fat before adding to rice or soups. Universal dishes like this particular pilaf often share a common thread, or history despite being on opposite sides of the globe. This recipe is vegetarian, using water to cook the rice, but you can also change it up by using any kind of broth or use an extra tablespoon of olive oil instead of the butter to make it completely vegan.

You can check out the easy method in the video  below:

Recipe for Arabic Style Vermicelli Rice


  • 2 cups white rice
  • ½ cup vermicelli noodles broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 cups plus 2 tbsp water


In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil, then add the vermicelli noodles. Saute the noodles until browned and crispy, then add the rice and stir for another minute. Add the water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.  


Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, host of the cooking show called Feast in the Middle East, and soon to be cookbook author. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond.  You can check out her cooking video tutorials and cultural commentary on growing up Arab American at    Her recipes can also be found at