Rice dishes have become very popular in Middle Eastern and Arab cuisine. It is rare to find a lunch or dinner table with no rice. In fact, rice is usually part of the main meal for millions of people across the Middle East.
This is a list of many of the tastiest and most common rice dishes in the Middle East.
Want to explore more Middles Eastern and Arabic dishes? Check out this Middles Eastern Cuisine Cookbook.
Flavorful Middle Eastern & Arabic Rice Dishes
1. Kabsah (Saudi Rice Dish)
Kabsah is a good starting point for this post. It is an iconic rice dish in Saudi Arabia. It might as well be the national dish of the Saudi people. To propose a single recipe would be an oversimplification. Kabsah comes in various varieties of ingredients and spices. However, it must contain some flesh and a load of rice. Basically, it’s made with chicken and rice. This is the cheapest and most common variation. The types of rice and spices may vary from place to place.
2. Tahdig (Persian Rice)
There are several variations of Persian rice. However, Tahdig is one that is especially unique and considered a delight in Iran. Basically, it’s almost a kind of browned (burned) Rice cake. It is made in a unique fashion that really gives an added dimension to an otherwise regular rice dish.
3. Qatari Rice Dish Machboos
Machboos is a rice and meat dish that is rich in spices. It is similar to Saudi Kabsah in the way it is cooked and served. It’s a mixture of all the ingredients cooked together and served up on a huge platter. A unique characteristic of Machboos is its special blend of Qatari spices. The slow-cooked meat, fresh spices, and rice all make for a well-balanced and tasteful middle eastern rice dish.
4. Koshari (Egyptian Rice Dish)
Koshari is almost as iconic as the Pyramids in Egypt. There is no way to describe how big this dish is. It is the most significant and popular rice dish. It is as complex as it is loved. It can be described as a mix of rice, pasta, chickpeas, and lentils. Topped off with a spicy tomato paste, it is an explosion of taste. Koshari is a regular daily treat on the streets of Cairo.
5. Mansaf (Jordanian Rice Pilaf)
Mansaf is the staple rice dish of Jordan and its neighboring Syria. It is also the stereotypical meat and rice dish served on a platter. There are a few variations with regard to the spices and ingredients. Mansaf has a special side condiment, Jameed, which is fermented goat yogurt. Mansaf is the meal of choice on big occasions and family meetings.
6. Lebanese Rice Pilaf With Vermicelli
Rice has become a staple across the Middle East and Lebanon is no different. Lebanese rice is well-known for its taste that comes from the roasted vermicelli and pine nuts that are sprinkled over the top. It is eaten with just about everything in Lebanon. Some say that the secret to its great taste lies in the mixture of butter and olive oil that is added right at the beginning.
7. Tebit (Iraqi Slow Cooked Rice)
Iraqi Tebit is an Arabian slow-cooked rice and chicken dish usually served on special occasions in Iraq. It is made with basmati rice and chicken flavored with saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon. Tebit is a comforting and yummy dish that you should try when you have the chance.
8. Shirin Polo (Persian Wedding Rice)
Shirin Polo rice is another middle eastern rice dish that is perfect for weddings or large celebrations. The rice is cooked with chicken or lamb, vegetables, and nuts, and then served with a sweet sauce.
9. Timman (Iraqi Saffron Rice)
Iraqi Timman Rice is a saffron-flavored rice dish that is typically served with lamb or chicken but it can be served alone as well. It is a popular rice dish in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. There are other versions of this dish where some use carrots or fava beans as the flavoring ingredients of the rice.
10. Pilav (Turkish Rice)
Turkish rice, also known as Pirinc or pilav is a delightful alternative to regular rice. It is smaller in size and cooked in a way that gives it this juicy, sticky feel that I can’t get enough of. It is usually served with the iconic Fasuliye ‘beans’. Pilav is an excellent side to any Turkish main, whether vegetables or meat.
11. Maqluba (Palestinian Upside-Down Rice)
Makloubeh is a Palestinian dish of rice, vegetables, and meat cooked together in one pot. It is usually made with chicken or lamb, but can also be made with beef. Makloubeh is traditionally served by flipping the pot upside down on the serving plate so that the rice is on the bottom and the meat and vegetables are on top.
12. Moroccan Paella (Rice with Seafood)
Moroccan Paella is one of the Arabian rice dishes that are made with seafood. Paella is actually a Spanish dish but it has been adopted by the Moroccan cuisine. The dish is made with rice, saffron, seafood (), and vegetables. It ist is a very popular dish in Northern Morocco.
13. Murabyan (Kuwaiti Rice with Shrimp)
Kuwait is a small country, but the diversity of its cuisine is impressive. Murabyan is one of Kuwait’s traditional rice dishes with a seafood twist. This hearty and filling Middle Eastern rice dish is flavored with sauteed onions, saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon and topped with a lot of Shrimp.
14. Ruz Mbowkh (Lybian Rice with vegetables)
Ruz Mbowkh also known as Ruz bi Khudra is a traditional Arabic rice dish from Libya. It’s simply a plate of well-cooked rice topped with a variety of vegetables with a gooey and delicious sauce. This dish is great for vegetarians or vegans that feel not only for a filling meal but a yummy one as well.
15. Rouz Jerbi (Tunisian Djerbian Rice)
If you have ever been to Tunisia you will recognize that this Arabic rice dish is very much loved there. Rouz Jerbi is a healthy meal made of steamed rice, a ton of vegetables, and protein (It could be chicken, meat, or seafood). If you are vegetarian or vegan don’t worry you can et this rice dish without the animal protein. It is suitable for all taste buds.
16. Yemeni Chicken Mandi
The long list of Middle Eastern rice dishes won’t be complete without the Yemeni Chicken Mendi. It’s a very popular dish not only in Yemen but also in other countries in the Arabian Peninsula. Chicken Mendi is basically chicken and rice cooked together in a pot. The chicken is usually marinated beforehand in spices like black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cumin, and turmeric.
17. Mujadara (Lebanese Lentils and Rice)
So much goodness in one dish! This is a hearty and filling meal that is perfect for lunch or dinner but no one will judge you if you have it for breakfast. Mujadara is a popular dish in the Middle East and is made with rice, lentils, and caramelized onions. It is usually served with a dollop of yogurt on top but you can also add a fried egg for extra protein.
18. Syrian Rice Cake
While you are drooling over these spicy Middle Eastern rice dishes, Syrians prefer making cakes out of rice. One of their popular appetizers is called “Ruz W Bazella”, a cake made of rice and peas.
The cake is made of layers of cooked beef, peas, rice, and finally a layer of crispy nuts.
19. Kabuli (Omani Chicken Rice)
Omani Chicken Kabouli is a healthy and hearty Middle Eastern rice dish that is perfect for any occasion. Similar to the Saudi rice dish Kabsa, Kabuli is made with Basmati rice flavored with Omani a special spice blend, topped with chicken and garnished with various ingredients such as dates, and nuts.
This dish is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters!
20. Algerian Wedding Rice
The Algerian rice is prepared particularly for weddings. It is a sweet dish, which is perfect for such special happy occasions. The recipe is not complicated and the result is always impressive. Algerian wedding rice is a combination of steamed rice, raisins, almonds, and orange blossom water.
That’s all for now! I hope you will enjoy trying out some of these Middle Eastern and Arabic rice dishes. If you do, please leave a comment below and let me know which is your favorite!
Happy Middle Eatern Rice Cookin!