armenian rice / lebanese rice pilaf

[arishdaov printz / riz bish'ayriyyeh / ruz bish/irreeyeh / roz bil shariyah ?]

Not being an international culinary expert, it is hard to decide who gets the credit for this dish—the Armenians or the Lebanese. In fact it appears to be a widespread Middle Eastern staple with slight regional variations. The two tone mixture of browned vermicelli noodles and white rice with optional scattered pine nuts makes it an attractive [and tasty] addition to the dinner table.

Whatever its origin, this is a frequent starch component in the Middle Eastern / Armenian diaspora dinner menu at the in-laws, and is an absolutely necessary complementary dish to the red wine pot roast we inherited from them. We always serve it with a couple of heaping tablespoons of some good quality plain yogurt on the side of each serving portion to eat together as a kind of accompanying sauce. We like doing this so much that we have transferred the yogurt serving practice to our Italian risottos, to which even a few of our Italian guests responded approvingly.


1 c 2c long grain rice
1/2 c 1 c vermicelli spaghetti-like egg noodles broken into small pieces
2 T 1/4 c optional pine nuts (variation of basic recipe)
2 T 4 T butter (can be substituted by oil or mixture)
2 1/2 c 5 c water
1 t 2 t veggie broth paste /cube (optional chicken broth substitute)
1/2 t 1 t salt


  1. Wash the rice by raking your fingers though it in a bowl (like raking leaves in the fall) under running water (or rinse 2 to 3 times) until the water runs clear, to remove the extra starch. A plastic rice cleaning bowl with a water escape grid on one side makes this step easier. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat butter in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the noodles (and optional pine nuts) and stir to coat them. Cook about 7-10 minutes stirring constantly until golden brown but not dark brown.
  3. Add rice and saute about a minute.
  4. Pour in water, salt, and veggie broth paste/cube and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook for 20-30 minutes untl the water is completely absorbed [and the rice is nicely softened].
  6. Turn off heat and let sit 10 minutes.
  7. Serve on a large serving platter.


  1. The optional pine nuts can also be browned before the noodles and set aside, then sprinkled over the top of the rice on its serving plate for an attractive presentation.
  2. Cooked chick peas can also be added to make this dish more substantial.
  3. Isgouhi used to make this with twice as much butter (one American stick for 2 cups of rice) before increasing American health conscious considerations modified her traditional ways.
  4. The whole food awareness of the third millennium led to using faster cooking brown rice in place of the long grain white rice, leading to a more nutritious as well as tasty improvement on the original dish. Trader Joe's has brown Jasmine rice and also brown Basmati rice, both of which work well in this recipe.
  5. Illustrations available.
armrice.htm: 27-feb-2008 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]