The ultimate side dish in the Lebanese cuisine, ruz mfallfal is a light accompaniment to the various vegetables-meat stews. The secret of fluffy rice is the choice of the grains and the amount of fat and water you use. When I started giving courses I was indecisive what kind of rice to use. My main objective was not to spoil the rice experience for my students. I almost immediately opted for Parboiled rice as you can’t go much wrong with it, and your rice is never mushy. Rice cooking is a personal experience, and once you are confident enough to obtain fluffy and presentable rice, you can still change into white long or short grain rice, the quality usually used by home cooks in Lebanon. I myself still prefer parboiled rice, and I am very content!
The vermicelli adds a certain kick, and my beginner students are fascinated by the fact that we cook rice and noodles together. When I go through the menu, and before them reading the recipes, they all think the noodles are cooked and added to the rice. Instead the noodles are toasted in fat to a nicely golden brown colour before adding the rice and the hot stock or water to them. I also recommend using sunflower oil if someone is watching for his or her calorie intake, ghee or clarified butter for a richer taste. Whatever kind of fat you eventually use, you need to attend to your vermicelli while toasting all the time, as vermicelli burns very quickly. My ultimate advice in 2018; avoid being distracted by your social media accounts…my advice in 1995; don’t engage in a long telephone call unless you are holding a handy device and still watching over your vermicelli. To be on the safe side, I always insist, forget the world around you for a few minutes!
One last thing to mention: what speaks for ruz mfallfal is its ability of comforting empty stomachs or sick stomachs anytime all the time especially when served with plain yoghurt.
Ruz Mfallfal - Rice with Vermicelli
- 400 g Parboiled Rice
- 50 ml sunflower oil
- 50 g vermicelli
- 900 ml low-salt vegetable stock
- ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- Rinse the rice with cold water and soak in cold water for 10 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a medium pot over moderate heat and cook the vermicelli for about 5 minutes or until light brown in colour, stirring all the time. Be careful, vermicelli can easily burn.
- Add the drained rice, the stock and salt. Bring to a boil, uncovered over high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot as a side dish to all kinds of stews.