Classic Aleppian Rice Pilaf

November 2, 2018



Recipe excerpted from Syria © 2018, Emily Lycopolus. Recipe and

images  by DL Acken reprinted with the  permission of  TouchWood



Rice is a highly valued grain in Middle Eastern cuisine simply because

historically it was difficult to obtain. In Aleppo, the main trading center,

many types of rice were available, hence the name of this dish.


The Lime infused olive oil adds a lovely but subtle and refreshing

flavor to this dish, and the aroma is remarkable.


Classic Aleppian Rice Pilaf,  Serves Six


Makes 4–5 cups of cooked rice


1/4 cup Lime infused olive oil

2 cups short-grain rice (basmati or jasmine work well)

3 cups water

6–8 strands saffron


A fun twist on this classic dish that is often served on Syrian tables

is to add vermicelli to the rice. To make the dish this way, add 1

cup of broken vermicelli noodles to the oil and toast before adding

rice. Be careful when the noodles are toasting as they do burn

easily, so keep an eye on it.


In a frying pan with a lid, warm the oil over medium heat, then add

the rice. Toast the rice until it is fully translucent and has absorbed

all the olive oil, 1–2 minutes. It’s crucial to stir it constantly during

this time.


Pour in the water, add the saffron, and stir a few times to fully

incorporate. Increase the heat to high, and bring the water to a

boil. As soon as it starts to boil, turn down the heat to its lowest

setting, cover the pan, and let cook for 30–45 minutes, or until

the rice has absorbed all the water and is fluffy on top.


Gently poke a few holes in the top of the rice, but don’t press down

to the very bottom, to release the steam. Cook for an additional 10

–15 minutes, still on the lowest-possible setting, with the lid tipped

a little to release any extra moisture from the pan.


Using a wooden spoon, carefully check the bottom of the frying

pan. The rice should be golden brown with a thick, toasted crust

on the bottom. If it’s not completely golden, continue to cook on

low heat for up to 15 more minutes, watching it closely and

checking every few minutes so it doesn’t burn.


Remove from the heat, remove the lid, and place a serving plate

over top the pan. Turn it upside down over the serving plate—

the rice should release in one piece. If desired, fluff the rice,

mixing in the crusty bottom for some crispy texture throughout.


For more of Emily's Syria Recipes click HERE




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